Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten in 1970
By Nellie Andreeva
Lifetime will be revisiting one of the most gruesome crimes in 20th century America, the Mason Family murders. The network has greenlighted Manson’s Lost Girls (working title), an original movie about the circle of teenaged girls who fell under the demonic spell of Charles Manson and helped carry out brutal killings meant to start an apocalyptic race war. Manson will be played by Jeff Ward. Cast as Manson girls are MacKenzie Mauzy (Into the Woods) as Linda Kasabian, Eden Brolin (I Dream Too Much) as Susan Atkins and Greer Grammer (Awkward) as Leslie Van Houten. Christian Madsen (Divergent) plays Manson family member Tex Watson.
Manson’s Lost Girls, from Asylum Entertainment, tells the story of Linda Kasabian (Mauzy) as she first meets “the family” at the seemingly idyllic Spahn Ranch hippie commune, where she and her baby daughter are embraced with open arms. Seduced by the group’s free-love lifestyle, Linda revels in a profound sense of sisterhood and acceptance. She is especially taken with Manson, who soon draws her into criminal activities, including late-night “creepy crawls” breaking into and stealing from lavish homes. Linda begins to see the evil in Manson, but the others remain fiercely loyal. Once she becomes an accomplice in what Manson calls “Helter Skelter,” a drug-fueled murder spree that included the brutal death of actress Sharon Tate and her unborn child, Linda breaks away and turns herself in as a witness for the prosecution. Her testimony helps lead to the conviction of Manson and his followers for the infamous Tate-LaBianca murders. Steven Michaels, Jonathan Koch and Nancy Bennett executive produce.
Manson’s Lost Girls, written by Matthew Tabak (Plain Truth) and Stephen Kronish (The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe) and directed by Leslie Libman (NCIS), will likely get on the air before the long-gestating indie feature Manson Girls, to be directed by Susanna Lo, is completed. The film, which follows the girls’ pre-Manson teen years through their indoctrination into the Family and up to the bloody 1969 “Helter Skelter” campaign, is slated to film sometime this year.
The Manson Family murders also are the subject of NBC’s drama series Aquarius, starring David Duchovny, which was recently renewed for a second season. MacKenzie, most recently seen as Rapunzel in Disney’s Into the Woods, is repped by Gersh, manager Susan Nickells and attorney PJ Shapiro. Grammer is repped by APA and Strategic Talent Group. Ward is with Sweeney Entertainment.
Manson’s Lost Girls is part of Lifetime’s movie franchise focused on famous crimes. Additionally, the network has been growing its portfolio of “unauthorised” behind the scenes films that tackle such shows as Full House, Saved by the Bell, Beverly Hills, 90210 and, most recently, Melrose Place.