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Arias, the Lifetime movie

This TV publicity image released by Lifetime shows TaniRaymonde portraying convicted killer Jodi Arias scene from Lifetime movie 'Jodi Arias:

This TV publicity image released by Lifetime shows Tania Raymonde portraying convicted killer Jodi Arias in a scene from the Lifetime movie "Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret," premiering Saturday, June 22, at 8:00 p.m. EST. (AP Photo/Lifetime, Jack Zeman) ORG XMIT: NYET303

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Lifetime’s new movie about convicted killer Jodi Arias isn’t some slapdash effort designed to capitalize on a sensational murder case.

“This project was in the works over a year ago,” says screenwriter Richard Blaney, who wrote the script with Gregory Small. “This thing didn’t move as fast as everyone thinks. We completed the script in December.”

That was the same month that Arias’ televised trial commenced in the brutal 2008 slaying of Travis Alexander, a Mesa, Ariz., motivational speaker. Little did the writers know that the case would explode into something that simultaneously fascinated and repelled viewers and inspired endless amounts of chatter on social media.

“Once the trial kicked into gear, we didn’t anticipate it was going to grab the nation as much as it did,” Small says.“Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret” (repeating at 7 and 11 p.m. Monday) is not a movie about the trial, which resulted in a first-degree murder conviction for Arias. She is now awaiting sentencing.

Instead, the writers say, it is a look at the relationship between a woman who turned out to be capable of murder and a man who had the misfortune of getting romantically involved with her.

The writers spent long nights poring over videos, documents, forensic evidence and court materials to write the script. But once the trial started growing more outrageous through Arias’ sexually charged testimony, the folks at Lifetime knew they had something special.

“Every time Jodi Arias would open her mouth on the stand, we would get calls asking if we could work it into the script,” Blaney says.

Filming wasn’t easy for actress Tania Raymonde, who plays Arias in the film and who, until now, has been best-known for her work on TV’s “Lost.” As the public’s perception of Arias changed through the trial’s exposure on HLN, so did Raymonde’s interpretation of the role.

“The portrait I tried to paint of Jodi was constantly evolving, and this, I couldn’t really help,” she says. “We were filming a person’s life story that hasn’t been fully written yet. However, I had a couple strong initial feelings about Jodi that I kept close to my heart because I trust my intuition. As an actor, that’s all you’ve got.”

Despite the barrage of new information, the writers say their opinion of Arias never really shifted.

“We had a pretty good take on where she was coming from,” Blaney says with a touch of understatement. “We never really doubted that she was the bad guy.”

Gannett News Service

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