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Monday, September 04, 2006

Amber movie retells abduction, Tonight on Lifetime Television


Amber movie retells abduction
By NATHANIEL JONES
STAR-TELEGRAM STAFF WRITER

Although the actress in a new Amber Hagerman movie appears bigger and older than the real Amber, the storyline is a chilling replay of Jan. 13, 1996, the day the 9-year-old was snatched from her bike and never seen alive again.

Her abduction and death led to the nationwide Amber Alert broadcast system, which has resulted in more than 200 children being returned to their families.

On Monday, the first nationally broadcast movie about her abduction, The Amber Alert Story , is scheduled to air on the Lifetime channel.

Producer Joseph Nasser and his brother Jack financed the made-for-television movie, which tells the story of how Amber’s mother, Donna Norris, fought to implement a system that would help other abducted children.

“This is one of those beautiful, inspirational stories that sends a message,” said Joseph Nasser. “Not only are we trying to help solve a murder, we are educating parents on the circumstances surrounding Amber’s abduction.”

Amber’s mother could not be reached for comment.

The movie relives the day Amber was abducted near an abandoned Winn-Dixie grocery store on East Abram Street.

The movie comes close to depicting the working-class neighborhood of small, single-garage homes near the area where Amber was abducted. The movie even describes the black pickup that a witness, from his back yard, described for police.

The movie is a little too Texan. It shows cowboy-hat-wearing investigators and “Congressman Frost,” who talk with strong Southern drawls.

Joseph Nasser acknowledges that the actors probably “overdid it on the accents.”

He said Amber’s mother, who now lives in Hurst, provided most of the information for the movie.

Nasser, who has worked on the movie for five years, said he purchased the movie rights from Amber’s mother for well over $10,000. He added that he made up the names of investigators, police officers and reporters so that he could get around paying them movie rights. “The message means more than the money,” he said. “This is about children and their safety.”

In between the Amber scenes, the Nasser brothers tell the story of Nichole Taylor Timmons of Riverside, Calif., who was abducted from her mother’s home in 2002 by a family friend. Because the Amber Alert system flashed Nichole’s picture, her abductor kept on the move until a Nevada policeman saw them. The suspect was arrested, and Nichole was safely returned home.

The Arlington Police Department continues to receive tips related to the Amber case, said Christy Gilfour, an Arlington police spokeswoman.

Nasser said he’s keeping a slim hope that the movie will help solve the slaying.

“I’m praying that someone will watch this move and think they may know the person or maybe knew someone who wore a cowboy hat and drove a pickup truck,” Nasser said. “I’m just praying for that slim possibility.”

IN THE KNOW ‘The Amber Alert Story’

Airs 8 p.m. Monday on Lifetime

For more information on Joseph and Jack Nasser and The Amber Hagerman Story, visit www.moviesfortv.com.

Nathaniel Jones, 817-548-5414
njones@star-telegram.com

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