Hayden Panettiere

The executive producer behind Lifetime's controversial Amanda Knox: Murder On Trial in Italy is defending the project, calling it a nonjudgmental look at the American convicted of killing her roommate in Italy.

"This is a factual drama and we feel we did a very fair and balanced telling of the story, crafting a script from court records and other public documents," executive producer Craig Piligian tells TV Guide Magazine. "At the end of the movie people will be wondering whether she really did or didn't do the things she's accused of," he says. "We weren't leaning one way or another, but took a very even, fact-based approach, which ultimately allows the viewers to make their own decision." 

Lifetime is set to premiere the movie on February 21, but the channel has slightly altered their marketing in response to criticism from both Knox's lawyers and the family of victim Meredith Kercher. The channel recently removed the original teaser-trailer for the movie, which stars Hayden Panettiere as Knox, from its website and YouTube, and today replaced it with a new, slightly edited version. The new promo no longer includes scenes depicting Kercher being assaulted, which caused a stir in the U.K., where she is from, and which her father called "absolutely horrific."

Insiders also confirm that Amanda Knox will not air in Italy due to legal reasons, because Knox's case is ongoing. Knox's lawyers had sent a letter to Lifetime, asking the network to pull the clips down, arguing that the movie's depictions might jeopardize her chance of a fair trial. A Lifetime spokesman confirmed that the network received the letter, but beyond that, they have not commented on the controversy.

But the auspices behind the movie say they've made sure not to take sides in the debate over Knox's guilt or innocence. (She is currently serving a 26-year jail sentence for murder, sexual assault and obstruction of justice in the death of Kercher, but her supporters say she was wrongfully convicted in the midst of a media circus.) Piligian said he screened the movie internally to his staff, and even in-house there's no consensus on whether or not Knox was involved in the crimes. "Everyone's divided, and the viewing public will likely be divided as well... That's what makes this such a great story."

Amanda Knox is the first TV movie to come from Piligian's Pilgrim Films; the producer is known for reality shows such as Dirty Jobs, American Chopper and Top Shot

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