In the summer of 2015, an actual prison escape captivated the US as two inmates managed to break free with help from a prison employee. These weren’t just any criminals; these two men, David Sweat and Richard Matt were both convicted of murder and serving life sentences in the maximum security prison. The Clinton Correctional Facility Escape, as it was called, set off a manhunt that lasted from June 6 to June 28 in upstate New York.
As the story unfolded, it began to read more and more like something right out of Hollywood. The two escapees had befriended a woman, Joyce Mitchell, who worked in the prison’s tailor shop. It was implied that Mitchell had an affair with both Matt and Sweat, and that there was even a plan to kill her husband soon after the escape. Mitchell was originally pegged to be the getaway car driver, but backed out after Matt and Sweat had passed the point of no return. Even without a driver, Matt and Sweat managed to almost cross the Canadian border (some 70 miles north of the prison) after being on the run for three weeks.
This real life, harrowing story proved too good to pass up. Deadline is reporting that Ben Stiller is close to sealing an eight-episode deal with Showtime. The limited series would be called Escape at Clinton Correctional, and is slated to star Benicio del Toro as Richard Matt and Patricia Arquette as Joyce Mitchell. Deadline notes that del Toro and Arquette are not locked in yet, but their deals are expected to go through.
The escape not only made for terrifying television, it also prompted New York state’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, to open an investigation into the incident. After a year of data collection, interviews, and convictions being doled out, it was determined that there was widespread systematic corruption that allowed these events to play out. From Matt and Sweat exchanging favors for tools that were used to secure their escape, to employees (including Joyce Mitchell) now serving prison sentences for collusion.
The series will be directed by Stiller, with former Mad Men scribe Brett Johnson, and Michael Tolkin, penning the series. No strangers to Showtime, both Johnson and Tolkin worked together on the network’s hit series Ray Donovan. Stiller and the two writers will share executive producer credits as well, with Bryan Zuriff (Ray Donovan), Michael De Luca (Captain Phillips), and Nicky Weinstock of Red Hour Productions.
Once del Toro and Arquette are official confirmed, it is expected that the casting announcement for David Sweat won’t be far behind.
Escape at Clinton Correctional does not yet have a release date.