USA Network has set its sights on the Scott Peterson case, with sources telling FilmJerk.com that production on a movie-of-the-week entitled “A Perfect Husband” will begin filming on or around November 3 in San Diego. Continuing its tradition of presenting telepics torn from the headlines, producers are trying to hire actors and actresses who bear a resemblance to the some of the real-life people in the Peterson case, but are “not looking for absolute look-alikes.” The telepic is said to be scheduled to air sometime in 2004.
First reported missing on Christmas Eve 2002, Laci Peterson was nearly 8 months pregnant. Her decomposed body was found 4 months later on the shore of San Francisco Bay; Her unborn child’s body was discovered a mile away from her own crime scene. Scott Peterson, the Modesto fertilizer salesman accused of killing his family, has pleaded innocent to two counts of murder, with a preliminary hearing scheduled for Oct. 20. Peterson could face the death penalty if convicted.
The telepic is listed as “the true story of one of the most baffling and sensational investigations in recent history” and charts how, from the beginning stages, Peterson eventually fell under suspicion of his wife’s murder. There is no word on whether this film is authorized by any of those involved in the case.
Among the roles producers are looking to fill, revealed via casting documents obtained by FilmJerk.com, include:
- Scott Peterson: The role is listed as being between 30 to 35 years old (the real Peterson is 30, as of April), and “a charming, athletic, attractive man, loved by everyone. “A fertilizer salesman for a European firm, Scott is married to pretty, pregnant Laci Peterson. When Laci disappears without a trace at Christmastime in Modesto, Scott seems genuinely stunned. However, as the dedicated efforts of hundreds of volunteers fail to turn up any clues to Laci’s whereabouts, Scott’s behavior becomes increasingly erratic and suspicious. When his loyal friends and Laci’s family learn that he was having an affair with another woman at the time of Laci’s disappearance, their sympathy for Scott turns into hostility and suspicion, but Scott resolutely maintains his innocence while a media firestorm rages around him. The chain of evidence against Scott grows ever stronger and shortly after two grisly discoveries, Scott is arrested — apparently while fleeing to Mexico with $10,000 in cash.
- Tommy Vignatti: A slightly out-of-shape man and former high school jock, Tommy Vignatti is one of Laci’s closest friends since their time together in grade school. In recent years, Tommy has become quite close to his “golfing buddy,” Scott Peterson. Tommy and his wife are both horrified to learn of Laci’s disappearance, but they are completely supportive of Scott, whom they consider a victim of the sensationalistic media. Tommy owns and operates a popular Modesto restaurant, which becomes a mecca for reporters after the Laci Peterson story breaks. Tommy maintains his faith in Scott, even after his wife Kate, also Scott’s close friend, suspects his guilt. Later, however, after a disguised Scott Peterson is found near the Mexican border with $10,000 in cash on him, Tommy’s belief in Scott turns to a sense of outrage and betrayal. This character is listed as between 28 to 32 years old.
- Kate Vigantti: In her late 20s, this animated and visibly pregnant young woman has been Laci’s best friend since grade school. Kate is particularly perturbed by Laci’s disappearance, but holds out hope that Laci will still be found alive. Like her husband Tommy, Kate maintains a touching belief in Scott’s innocence — until her faith is badly shaken by Scott’s web of deceit and evasions.
- Sharon Rocha: Laci’s blonde mother, who is in her 50s, had always considered Laci and Scott to be a perfectly happy couple with a “fairy tale” marriage. She maintains that belief after Laci’s disappearance, an event which obviously devastates her. Sharon also sympathizes keenly with Scott, who pointedly insists that his marriage to Laci was ideal. When Sharon learns of Scott affair with Amber Frey, her faith in her son-in-law is irreparably damaged.
- Amber Frey: A massage therapist and the mother of a young daughter, Frey has been seriously dating Scott for some months. Amber has no idea that Scott is even married, much less that he is the husband of the Modesto woman recently reported missing. As soon as she learns of Scott’s deception, Frey informs the police— sending the media into a feeding frenzy. Sincerely sympathetic to the Peterson family, Frey later agrees to help the police by letting them put a tap on her phone. The character is listed as an attractive blonde in her late 20s.
- Detective Groghan: A straight-faced detective in shirt and tie, he’s a wily and dogged investigator who spearheads the search for Laci Peterson, and later amasses evidence in the growing case against Laci’s husband, Scott. Nobody’s fool, Grogan plays it cool, adopting a “hail-fellow, well-met” attitude around Scott that is disarming, but all the while, he’s waiting for Scott to make the mistake that will cement his guilt.
- Detective Buehler: Grogan’s partner, this tenacious police detective is also a point person for the Laci Peterson investigation. Although he obviously thinks that Scott is the guilty party, Buehler plays it absolutely sympathetic and friendly as he issues yet another search warrant to Scott. Later, however, he gloats to Grogan about how rattled Scott was during their encounter. Both Buehler and Groghan are listed as being between the ages of 38 and 44.
- Brent: Dark-haired and handsome, Laci’s brother is particularly distraught over his sister’s disappearance, and searches exhaustively for her, with no results. Brent firmly believes in Scott’s innocence at the outset of the search, even though his father is having second thoughts. Later, he calls a news conference to publicly proclaim his disenchantment with his brother in law, whom he now suspects is guilty.
Other characters currently being sought after for casting include: Dennis Rocha, Laci’s biological father, who is divorced from Laci’s mother, Sharon, who is outraged when Scott literally flees from him in Laci’s SUV; Angela Panato, a late 20s dark-eyed, dark-haired young woman who is also one of Laci’s best friends; and Donna Taylor, another of Laci’s good friends, who – like Panato– throws herself wholeheartedly into the massive search for Laci.
The above character information come from casting documents sent to actors and actresses’ agents by the production’s casting directors, in the hope of matching up roles to talent.
Although a director has not yet been named for the project, the writer is listed as Dave Erickson, who also wrote the network’s “Murder in Greenwich,” as well as Showtime’s “Power and Beauty.” Executive producing the movie-of-the-week is Diana Sokolow (“The Hamptons” and “Mother, May I Sleep with Dangerr”) and Rachel Vero (“Murder in Greenwich” and “Into Thin Air: Death on Everest”). Sony is listed as the production company.
Executive Producers: Diana Sokolow and Rachel Verno
Producer: Diana Kerew
Writer: Dave Erickson
Casting Directors: Molly Lopata and Stacey Rosen
Start Date: On or about November 3, 2003
Location: San Diego
Production Company: Sony