Showtime has given a formal order to “Escape at Dannemora,” the prison break project starring Benicio del Toro and Patricia Arquette, Variety has learned.
“Escape at Dannemora,” which has been greenlit for an eight-hour run, is the latest limited series for Showtime, following “Twin Peaks.”
Paul Dano will also star alongside Del Toro and Arquette. All eight episodes will be directed by Stiller who is also executive producer on the series.
“Escape at Dannemora” — formerly titled “Escape at Clinton Correctional” — is based on the real-life 2015 prison break in upstate New York in the summer of 2015, which spawned a massive manhunt for two convicted murderers who were aided in their escape by a married female prison employee with whom they both became sexually entangled. Del Toro will play convicted murderer Richard Matt who masterminds the escape; Arquette will play Tilly Mitchell, a working class, married woman who works at the prison and becomes sexually involved with both convicts, inducing her to assist them with their escape; and Dano will play David Sweat, a convicted cop-killer who uses his good looks to seduce Tilly and becomes a reluctant partner in Richard Matt’s plot.
The series will be written by Brett Johnson and Michael Tolkin, who met while working as writers on Showtime’s “Ray Donovan.” Both scribes will serve as executive producers with Bryan Zuriff, Michael De Luca though his Michael De Luca Productions, Nicky Weinstock for Red Hour Productions and Stiller.
“We are all very intent on trying to tell this singular story in a way that shows the reality and humanity of the people involved,” said Stiller. “While the genre is a prison escape story, at its core it is a story about real people, some criminals and some not, who make some bad choices that have huge consequences. I think that’s what’s so compelling about this.”
Arquette commented, “I’m very excited about ‘Escape at Dannemora’ and about working with Ben, Benicio, Michael, Brett and Showtime on this fascinating and dark American love story rooted in real and self-deceptive incarceration.”
Stiller is repped by WME. Del Toro is repped by CAA and LBI Entertainment. Arquette is repped by The Gersh Agency and 3 Arts Entertainment. Dano is repped by WME and Anonymous Content. He will also make his directorial debut with the upcoming film “Wildlife,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan.
No premiere date has been set. The series will shoot at actual locations in Upstate New York. Production begins later this year.