- How could there be a hate crime without hatred is a question that screenwriter and dissident jury foreman, Eric Zaccar
, has been asked many times since he began working on his script for the upcoming independent feature, "Without Hate." The all too topical film, that is slated to begin production in New York this summer, will dramatize the true story of Michael Sandy
, the 29-year-old gay man who was lured from an internet chat room to his arguably accidental death.
Zaccar, best known for left leaning plays, like the satire on the Clinton-Lewinsky absurdities, "Starr's On Broadway," himself made headlines by renouncing his single guilty verdict against one of the young defendants. After visiting prisons, reading all available material, interviewing people on every side of the case, and of course, being in court for the entire trial, Zaccar still maintains his controversial position.
"The judge, the jurors and even the DA acknowledged, from day one, that there was no hatred involved here," Zaccar states. "What happened to Michael Sandy was a terrible tragedy, and these kids all know they did something wrong and should be punished. But nobody stole anything, no one carried any weapons, and no one even threw a solid punch. They were trying to scam someone out of $30!"
was a 19-year-old college honor student with no criminal record, whose father was one of the most decorated hero firemen of both World Trade Center disasters. Anthony Fortunato
was 20, in college and working at his family's law firm. Both young men could realistically spend up to 21 years in prison.
Seasoned independent film producer and Emmy
winning director Sylvia Caminer
, whose new documentary, "Project Tanzania," will be making its New York Premiere at the SoHo Film Festival on April 15, will be at the helm. Familiar New York actors from film, television, theater and even major market radio, are coming together under the guidance of casting wizard Caroline Sinclair
. There might even be a rather prominent politician, and one of the principal players in the case, portraying characters based on themselves. Dolger Films and Design Catcher Productions will be the parent producers.
"Nobody bothered to go after the hit and run driver who actually killed Michael Sandy," Zaccar continues. "It was easier to make these kids into poster children for the state's new hate crime law that says that you don't actually have to hate anyone, you just have to target a specific group." The recent story of the 11-year-old boy, charged with a hate crime for bullying a little girl in school, is the latest example of how this theoretically valuable and important law has been misapplied. "So far, the screenplay has swayed even some pretty adamant activists," Zaccar claims.