How Series Director Newbie Ben Stiller Brought ‘Escape at Dannemora’ to Anxious Cinematic Life

How Series Director Newbie Ben Stiller Brought ‘Escape at Dannemora’ to Anxious Cinematic Life
When Ben Stiller agreed to direct all eight hours of the true prison escape saga “Escape at Dannemora” (Showtime), he had no idea what he was in for. The director of six movies had never helmed a mini-series or series, except for his sketch comedy “The Ben Stiller Show” in the early ’90s; he had directed one pilot (Fox’s “Heat Vision and Jack”). “It was new territory for me,” he said on the phone. “I didn’t know what it would involve.”

When Stiller read the scripts brought to him by showrunners Michael Tolkin and Brett Johnson (“Ray Donovan”), he knew the story had been fictionalized. “I didn’t know enough about what actually happened,” he said. “I read the Inspector General’s 160-page report and decided to start from scratch. They were my partners throughout. We’d block out what the episodes would be, but they’d have to sit down and write.
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