The story of legendary undercover reporter Nellie Bly is coming to Lifetime — and EW has an exclusive first look at the TV movie.
Christina Ricci stars in Escape from the Madhouse: The Nellie Bly Story as 19th-century journalist Elizabeth Cochran Seaman, who published under the name of Nellie Bly. The movie is inspired by Seaman’s 1887 undercover stay at the Women’s Lunatic Asylum on New York’s Blackwell’s Island.
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story‘s Judith Light also stars as Matron Grady, the head nurse who tortured her patients into submission and Revenge‘s Josh Bowman plays Dr. Josiah. This marks Ricci’s return to Lifetime following her SAG-nominated performance in the limited series The Lizzie Borden Chronicles and that series’ prequel movie, Lizzie Borden Took An Axe.
On a mission to expose the deplorable conditions and mistreatment of asylum patients, Seaman — who also became widely known for her record-breaking trip around the world in 72 days — pretended to suffer from mental illness in order to be institutionalized to report from the inside.
In a press release, Lifetime describes the movie as delivering “an intense and fictionalized account of actual events surrounding Nellie’s stay beginning after Nellie has undergone treatment, leaving her with no recollection of how she came to the asylum or her real identity. Nellie’s unwillingness to submit to authority results in unspeakable torture at the hands of the head nurse, Matron Grady (Light). When Nellie captures the attention of Dr. Josiah (Bowman) who tries to help her, Grady’s barbaric tactics only intensify, leading Nellie to questions if she actually does belong in the asylum after all.”
Escape from the Madhouse: The Nellie Bly Story premieres Jan. 19, 2019 at 8 p.m. ET.