The Atlanta Child Murders (miniseries)
|The Atlanta Child Murders|
|Written by||Abby Mann|
|Directed by||John Erman|
James Earl Jones
|Country of origin||United States|
|Running time||245 minutes|
|Original run||February 10, 1985 – February 12, 1985|
The Atlanta Child Murders is a TV miniseries that aired on February 10 and 12, 1985 on CBS. Inspired by true events, the miniseries examines the so-called "Atlanta child murders" of the late 1970s and early 1980s.
- Calvin Levels – Wayne Williams
- Morgan Freeman – Ben Shelter
- James Earl Jones – Major Walker
- Rip Torn – Lewis Slaton
- Jason Robards – Alvin Binder
- Lynne Moody – Selena Cobb
- Ruby Dee – Faye Williams
- Gloria Foster – Camille Bell
- Paul Benjamin – Homer Williams
- Martin Sheen – Chet Dettlinger
- Andrew Robinson – Jack Mallard
Between the summer of 1979 and the spring of 1981, 29 African American children, adolescents and adults were murdered in Atlanta, Georgia. The killings gained nationwide attention, with many suspecting that they were the work of the Ku Klux Klan or a similar white supremacist group. However, in June 1981, a 23-year-old African American named Wayne Williams (Levels) was arrested for first-degree murder in the deaths of 27-year-old Nathaniel Carter and 29-year-old Jimmy Ray Payne. Eight months later, Williams was convicted of both killings and sentenced to two consecutive terms of life imprisonment. Some parties speculate that Williams was not the real killer, and that local law enforcement officials used him as a scapegoat to bring a seemingly unsolvable case to a close. However, it is generally presumed that Williams was the culprit in most of the murders, if not all of them. No one was ever tried in connection with the other killings.
- Atlanta officials criticized The Atlanta Child Murders, claiming that it distorted the facts of the case. After a series of negotiations, CBS executives agreed to insert a disclaimer alerting viewers that the film is based on fact but contains fictional elements.
- In 2000, Showtime aired a similarly-theme movie entitled Echo of Murder, starring James Belushi and Gregory Hines. When released on DVD, it was retitled Who Killed Atlanta's Children?
- Sally Bedell Smith (1985-02-09). "TV Notes; CBS Turning Cameras on Its Decision-Makers". The New York Times.
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