Thirty years ago today, a female jogger was beaten and raped in Central Park. Five young men of color were unjustly convicted of the crime, only to be exonerated in 2002. Now the story of the so-called Central Park Five has been turned into a Netflix mini-series, and the first full trailer for it has just been released. It features what appears to be Felicity Huffman’s first acting appearance since pleading guilty in the college admissions scandal.
“When They See Us” was created and directed by Ava DuVernay, who has previously dealt with stories of racial injustice in the feature film “Selma,” about civil rights marchers, as well as the documentary “13th,” about mass incarceration. She cast five little-known actors as the wrongly accused teenagers, and several more recognizable faces can be seen in the powerfully dramatic trailer, including Vera Farmiga as a prosecutor, Joshua Jackson as a defense attorney, and John Leguizamo and Michael Kenneth Williams as the fathers of two defendants.
Linda Fairstein, the former head of the sex crimes unit in the Manhattan district attorney’s office, is played by Huffman, who has said she plans to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud for paying a college consultant to arrange for cheating on her daughter’s SAT.
“I am ashamed of the pain I have caused my daughter, my family, my friends, my colleagues, and the educational community,” Huffman said in a statement accompanying the announcement of her plea deal, adding, “My desire to help my daughter is no excuse to break the law or engage in dishonesty.”
Huffman will also appear in another forthcoming Netflix project, the parenting-themed film comedy “Otherhood,” but its release has been delayed.
(Fairstein, who has since become a novelist, made headlines herself in November when the Mystery Writers of America withdrew an award for her because of her role in the Central Park Five case.)
The streaming service will release all four episodes of “When They See Us” on May 31.
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