Execution of Justice - Production Notes:

11/23/98: Peter is presently in Toronto filming Execution of Justice in which he plays slain San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in the U.S.. The film, which will debut on Showtime, stars Tim Daly (executive producer) as assassin Dan White, who also killed San Francisco Mayor George Moscone on November 27, 1978. White's case has become known as the "Twinkie defense" after his sentence was reduced from first-degree murder to voluntary manslaughter. The verdict set off the so-called White Night riots. White served five years in prison and committed suicide in 1985. This film, based on Emily Mann's play, is directed by Leon Ischaso with Michael Butler's script. No broadcast date has been set yet.

12/03/98:San Francisco Supervisor Tom Ammiano got a call this week from the makers of an HBO movie being shot in Toronto about the killings of George Moscone and Harvey Milk (who's being played by Peter Coyote). Ammiano, president-elect of the supes, was asked if he wanted to play some small role in the production; he says he's not sure what it is, ``but I don't think it's Dianne Feinstein,'' who had the job then. (San Francisco Chronicle)

12/06/98: Peter Coyote, in town for the TV-movie Execution of Justice, and Tom Skerritt (Secret of the Unicorn) dined at Sushi Garden Tuesday night with producer Sarah Hayward. (Toronto Star)

12/09/98: San Francisco Slayings Portrayed - Tim Daly, best known as one of the stars in the TV series Wings, is co-starring as San Francisco City Supervisor Dan White in Execution of Justice. In 1978, White gunned down his gay colleague Harvey Milk (played by Peter Coyote) and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone (Stephen Young) at City Hall. The Showtime picture is beating out the long-in- preparation The Mayor of Castro Street. Daly insists his picture is more about Dan White. "And it's a role I said I've got to play!'' (Hollywood: Variety)

12/10/98: (San Francisco Chronicle)

Showtime film recalls life of the man who killed Milk and Moscone - Toronto as a double for San Francisco?

It seems unlikely -- and that's what actor Tim Daly thought when he first decided to play Dan White in Execution of Justice, currently on a 22-day shoot in Toronto. It's the first screen dramatization of White's assassination of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk in November 1978.

"It really sucks that we're here,'' Daly said yesterday by phone from the chilly set of the Showtime Network film that will be broadcast in the spring. ``But it has to do with filthy lucre. A U.S. dollar buys so much more in Canadian dollars that we had no choice. "We would have loved to shoot in San Francisco, because the city's a character in the story. I was sad from the moment we conceived this project that we couldn't, but we're doing our best to make Toronto look like we did shoot there.''

Daly is not only the star but the executive producer of Execution of Justice, based on Emily Mann's 1984 play about the buildup of rage and the downfall of White 20 years ago. It was produced on Broadway at the Virginia Theatre in 1986 and was mounted the year before at Berkeley Rep and San Jose Rep in a combined production with Eureka Theatre.

Bay Area actor Peter Coyote plays Milk, Amy Van Nostrand (Daly's actress wife) plays Mary Ann White, Stephen Young (Patton) is Moscone and Khalil Kain plays Sister Boom Boom. Daly's actress sister Tyne Daly (Cagney & Lacey) also has a small role. The film's director is Leon Ichaso.

Daly, who lives in Providence, R.I., said he has wanted to portray White for years - "We made an effort to get (rights to) The Mayor of Castro Street by Randy Shilts. That was way back in the early '80s. "I thought Dan White was the perfect part for me, because I'm interested in these all-American types who turn out to be such psychos,'' said Daly, who played the charming Joe Hackett on NBC's popular Wings sitcom. "I also played David Koresh in In the Line of Duty: Ambush in Waco, an NBC movie of the week. "I guess I'm just stuck with American weirdos.''

Both Daly and Coyote said they were struck with how much they looked like White and Milk after costume and makeup. "It's uncanny,'' said Coyote in a phone interview. "I got this chill when I saw Tim on the set. I mean, I was working in San Francisco politics for the California Arts Council and Jerry Brown when that tragic day occurred, and I'll never forget what Dan White looked like. But I have to say that I'm also seeing how much I look like Harvey, too, once they do my face and futz with my hair,'' Coyote said.

Daly said he pursued the story from the White angle "because I have this feeling that the story of Dan White remains frighteningly timely,'' said Daly, acknowledging that his resemblance to the convicted former supervisor "owes something to the silly Glenn Campbell haircut I have.''

"Since Harvey was assassinated, there have been huge changes in the gay community. There's more openness, more acceptance, and, in a way, that story has been told. But we're still experiencing in this country these disenfranchised white males, these disgruntled postal workers or whatever who are filled with rage and hate and commit heinous crimes against people -- that to me is a powerful, troubling story that, sadly, won't go away,'' Daly said.

"Execution really is an attempt to tell White's story, and if we do our jobs right, people will vastly disagree about our film - some will say we were too easy, some will say we're too hard on him.''

Toronto's popular Church Street, hub of the city's gay community, was used as a double for Castro Street in one of the film's most complex exterior shots. The street is nowhere near as colorful in its "out'' sensibilities as Castro is, the filmmakers agreed.

"We re-created the Gay Pride Parade,'' said Daly. "But we are going to intercut documentary footage from the real parade shot 21 years ago in San Francisco. We also created our own version of the candlelight vigil.''

A number of scenes will be shot in San Francisco - second-unit photography takes place next month in the Castro and other neighborhoods - and the film will be peppered with newsreel sequences and flashbacks.

A few prominent San Franciscans - Supervisor Tom Ammiano is the only name disclosed so far - will also be asked to give "testimonials'' that look back at the tragic events, said Daly.

Coyote said he took the Milk part because "I respected him - he was a charming, smart guy. But the script really digs into the degeneration of a straight-up Irish Catholic San Francisco boy who saw his town changing and people casting dirt in the face of his values.''

The deal that Daly, through his Daly-Harris Productions, cut with Showtime allows for theatrical distribution of Execution of Justice.


[ The Official Peter Coyote Web Site ]