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'Conviction' and Hilary Swank draw fire from slain woman's family

October 14, 2010 |  1:27 pm

Getprev Hilary Swank has called "Conviction," the Fox Searchlight film she stars in, a "feel-good" story.

But apparently, there's nothing about the movie, which hits theaters Friday, that makes Melrose and Charles Brow feel good. They're the children of Katharina Brow, a diner waitress who was found stabbed to death in her trailer home in 1980. A local troublemaker named Kenny Waters was charged with her murder, and spent 18 years in prison. But he was released after his sister, Betty Anne Waters, brought to light DNA evidence that proved his innocence. Subsequently, no one has been charged with Katharina Brow's murder.

That's the real-life story that's told in "Conviction," in which Swank plays Betty Anne Waters, a single mother who put herself through law school to help her brother.

On Thursday, Brow's children held a news conference with their lawyer, Gloria Allred, to express their disappointment that they had not been contacted by the "Conviction" filmmakers or by Swank, who executive produced the film.

"We are angry and disappointed that in the making of the film, neither executive producer Hilary Swank nor anyone else connected to the film ever contacted us to see how we would feel about the fact that our mother’s murder is the basis for events which transpired as a result of her tragedy," Melrose Brow said.

She and her brother have requested a meeting with Swank, during which Brow says she would like to ask the actress a number of questions, including why the movie was made and how the film's profits will be used.

“I want to find out what the movie’s made and, as the profits come in, if they’ll use those profits to help us with trying to find out who the perpetrator is,” Brow said in an interview after the news conference. She and her family are not seeking compensation, but would like money to go toward a search for the killer, she said.

Fox Searchlight did not respond to an immediate request for comment. Swank's representative said the actress had no comment.

The Brow family has not had the opportunity to see "Conviction" yet because they have not been invited to any private screenings before its release, Allred said. Katharina Brow's murder, although the impetus for the film's plot, does not occupy much of the movie itself. In the film, after she is slain, Brow is shown in a mildly graphic scene, bloodied and sprawled across a floor. But little else is revealed about her in the movie.

In a recent interview, Swank said she had prepared diligently for "Conviction." She traveled to the East Coast to visit Waters, who drove Swank through her hometown of Ayer, Mass., pointing out "where she lived, where her trailer was, where she used to eat, the candy store she used to steal from," the actress recalled.

Swank said she took the responsibility of portraying the Waters family accurately on screen seriously. 

"I wouldn’t be able to live with myself [if] I somehow didn’t portray the story in a way that [Betty Anne] felt reflected her story," Swank said. "I was at the premiere with her in Toronto, and I don’t want the credits to roll and have her look at me and go, 'What are you thinking? That’s not how it happened at all.' So it’s an enormous responsibility. You can't take a lot of liberty with the storytelling."

--Amy Kaufman

Photo: Hilary Swank. Credit: Jay Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (17)

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please tell us Gloria, the bumper sticker on your car, does it say "my other car is an ambulance"?

This is ridiculous! Oh, boo hoo, no one from Hollywood met with me to ask about the story... oh boo hoo... was there a contractual requirement? No. Was their input critical to the movie? Producers apparently thought, no. Oh boo hoo, what a bunch of babies with the publicity magnet Gloria Allred...

This movie is not about the slain woman. It's about Waters and here family and how they dealt with this tragedy. I don't think anyone connected with this movie owes anything to the Brow family. Whats wrong Allred no more mistresses of tiger woods to represent.

In my opinion this is why Swank did not contact the Brow family, and I did see the movie at a screening: The movie is not based on Mrs. Brow's tragic death and unsolved murder it is based on Betty Anne Waters' fight to free her INNOCENT brother. The main tragedy in this movie is about innocent men and women who were sentenced to jail time with little or false evidence matching them to the scene of the crime and the breakthrough of DNA testing to free the innocent. It is gross and disgusting how Mrs. Brow was killed, but that is not the focus of the movie at all.

If DNA exonerated the guy, then these people have no say in the matter. The guy is innocent, and they need to mind their own business.

If you want your story make your own movie! Its the cops responsibility and the state to find the killer noy a movie studio!

If the Brow family was smart, and wanted to use this opportunity to solve their mother's murder, why in the world did they hire Gloria Allred? She has no credibility whatsoever.

WOW! I just saw the trailer for the movie and it looks incredible!! Thank you Allred and Brow family for your stupid news conference. Otherwise I may have missed this film.

Man, Alred hadnt even gotten the chance to crawl under her rock from the last sham...

Hilary, your personal integrity is compromised with the distribution of this film in Britain. Please be careful. Contact me if you need more information

So much for kindness or empathy to anyone that has ever suffered a violent death in their family.

It's understandable that the Brow siblings are troubled over a film that is centered around a traumatic event that occurred in their lives 30 years ago. Although the film apparently only touches on the topic of their story, this story is not about them. It's about Betty Anne and her brother--which makes for a more interesting idea that hasn't been tired out like all the other murder cases that would be only slightly more exciting if on the small screen.
The story is not about the Brows, it's about the bottom line (entertainment) and if they really want funding to find the killer, then do a 5k or something.

with all due respect, the movie is ALSO about a man who was falsely convicted & lost 18 years of his life!!!! as horrible as it is that ms. brow's children not only lost their mother in such a violent manner & that this movie undoubtedly brings up much pain for them,they should not lose sight of the fact that they were not the only victims here!! he lost 18 years in prison that he will never get back!!

My mother was one of the police officers that help convict Kenny Waters of murder. That poor woman fought for her life and her blood was all over her mobile home. No DNA testing in the 1980s. Some blood was found in the courthouse records, it was all the victims. My mom said there was blood everywhere. Just because Kenny Waters blood wasnt found means 2 things. Too much of Katharina's blood or that Kenny didnt get hurt badly enough to draw blood. Kenny was seen by 2 of his girlfriends washing his bloody clothes and Kenny was also caught selling Ms Brows jewelry. There is so much the public doesnt know, and to make a movie of such a tragic death and not portraying all sides, or talking with the Brow family is such an injustice for the family.

The one good thing is that shortly after Waters was released from prison, he was climbing over a wall and fell, and days later he died. I do believe that Katharina Brow was on that fence and gave him a push. Rot in hell Waters.

For the lady whose mother was a police officer. May you rot in hell with him!

This is a story about love and faith...how far would we go for our loved one? It's a tragedy what happened to Mrs. Brow, unfortunately this movie is not about her murder, but the hatred that was and still lingers in people today. God only knows how many innocent people are still behind bars. And never will be free, because there might not be any DNA, but a fake testimony that put them behind bars to begin with.

To the lady whose mother was one the cops. If it wasn't for the croked cops, Kenny would not have been in jail in the first place. It was croked, no good cops, that made those women lie on witness stand. Shame on them for that! Shame on them for not finding the real killer.


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