Linda Fairstein, the now infamous prosecutor in the Central Park Five case, didn't want to participate in the Netflix series When They See Us if the five accused men—Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, and Kharey Wise—were also being consulted, one of the show's producers alleges.
When They See Us executive producer Jane Rosenthal claims her team and Fairstein exchanged a number of emails regarding her possible involvement in the miniseries. Despite being under a gag order stemming from the 2012 Ken Burns-directed documentary The Central Park Five, Rosenthal considered that "perhaps she wanted to talk to us because she had other offers, and she was also concerned that we were talking to the five men."
"Her point of view was clearly that she didn’t want us talking to the five men if we were talking to her," Rosenthal revealed during a panel for the Netflix series at the Produced By conference, according to Variety. "Are we saying that, Jane? I guess we are," director Ava DuVernay replied. "That’s the tea that just got spilled."
If Fairstein were to have gotten involved with When They See Us, she was going to have to overlook the fact that DuVernay always wanted to tell the story from the perspective of the men who were wrongly accused of raping a female jogger in 1989.
"I promised them I would tell their story. I made a promise and I intended to keep it — we all did,” DuVernay said, per TheWrap. "It was an honor and a thrill to be able to right a wrong. A wrong was done here. We’re at fancy panels and we’re wearing pretty dresses, but this is a tragedy. This should not have happened. These boys were innocent and everything said they were innocent… To think that this happened then and to know that it’s still happening, is what got me up every morning."