Will the Amanda Knox story hurt Hayden Panettiere, or vice versa?
Hayden Panettiere stars Monday night in a dramatization of the Amanda Knox story -- and the Lifetime movie has stirred up drama of its own, with Knox's family fighting unsuccessfully to have the broadcast blocked until after her appeal is complete.
In "Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy," the former "Heroes" star portrays an American student who in December 2009 was convicted in the 2007 sexual assault and stabbing death of British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy, where they were studying. Knox's Italian ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito was also convicted; they got 26 and 25 years, respectively.
A report out Monday in London said Lifetime had cut a scene showing Panettiere as Knox attacking the Kercher character with a knife as she's held down by the Sollecito character.
Knox's parents were ordered Tuesday to stand trial in Italy on slander charges stemming from their allegations in a British newspaper interview that police abused their daughter verbally and physically before she was arrested. Last April, appeals were filed from all sides, with the prosecution calling the sentences too lenient, and the defense attorneys questioning police tactics and DNA evidence. Review of the appeals began in December.
So how has Panettiere been handling it as she promoted the movie?
"I've definitely gotten harsh questions, but then I talk about the fact that the movie is very fact-driven and classy," Panettiere told The Times. "It's nothing that would incriminate her or sway a judge's opinion of her in a court of law. That's the main concern here."
"Lifetime was like, 'Don't say whether you think she is guilty or innocent,'" Panettiere said. "But I couldn't even tell you, because I haven't decided."
The 16-year sentence of Rudy Guede, another man convicted in the killing, has been upheld.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Photo: Hayden Panettiere, photographed on the Warner Bros. lot on Feb. 17, 2011. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times