Synopsis: (1981 - TV film) This true story is based on the
controversial trial surrounding the murder of Dr. Herman Tarnower, a
respected cardiologist and author of The Scarsdale Diet. Jean
Harris, a 58-year-old socialite, is charged with the fatal shooting of
March 10, 1980 in Purchase, N.Y.. However, Harris (Burstyn) claims the
death was a "tragic accident" and maintains that Dr. Tarnower
accidentally died while trying to prevent her from committing suicide. The prosecution, led by DA George Bolen (Coyote)
insists Tarnower's death was intentional. Bolen struggles to prove that
Jean Harris intentionally shot Dr. Tarnower in a jealous rage because
she had been jilted for his beautiful young assistant.
Director: George Schaefer
Screenplay: George Lefferts based on
Running time: 147 minutes
Peter's role: District Attorney George Bolen
Cast: Ellen Burstyn, Martin Balsam,
Richard A. Dysart and Millie Slavin
Premiered: May 7 & 8, 1981 on NBC
"Burstyn is beautifully cast, wonderfully credible and marvelously
sympathetic as Harris, fashionable girls' school headmistreess and Tarnower's
jilted paramour... She is supported admirably by another fine actor, Martin
Balsam, as defense lawyer, Atty. Joel Aurnou... Among the most dramatic moments are Burstyn's testimony describing the
killing, an agonizing, moment-by-moment remembrance; and her speech to
the court just before sentencing... It could be one of the least costly productions of its magnititude because
there was little expense over and above the salaries and videotaping costs."
Did you know?
Ellen Burstyn was nominated for an
Emmy Award for her performance.
This movie premiered five weeks after the outcome of Jean Harris' trial.
400 pages of the 10,000 pages of testimony were selected and then 200
were used. Every word, phrase and sentence - even the "uhs,"
"ahs" and "buts" uttered by witnesses and court officials
- heard during the four-hour production are taken verbatim from the court
Coyote Web Site ]