Lifetime in Hard ‘Knox’ Spot

Three weeks before its scheduled Feb. 21 premiere, the slow-brewing controversy surrounding Lifetime’s Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy is finally threatening to boil over.

Amanda Knox, you’ll recall, is the U.S. exchange student who temporarily dominated international headlines when she and two men — including her then-boyfriend — were convicted in 2009 by an Italian court of sexually assaulting and killing Meredith Kercher, the British student with whom Knox shared a cottage in the Italian village of Perugia. Sentenced to 26 years in prison, Knox is currently seeking an appeal.

Based on testimony from her 11-month trial, Lifetime’s ripped-from-the-headlines docu-drama stars Heroes cheerleader Hayden Panettiere as “Foxy Knoxy.”

But attorneys for the former honors student from Seattle, now 23, aren’t impressed: They’ve demanded that Lifetime pull the picture, starting with the removal of an explicit preview video from its website.

Arguing that perceptions drawn from the film would influence their client’s appeal proceedings, on Thursday Knox’s lawyers warned Lifetime they’d see the network in court if the movie wasn’t canceled.

Reps from Lifetime’s parent company A&E have yet to publicly respond. But while promotion for Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy remains robust on Lifetime’s website  — behind-the-scenes photos, cast profiles, lots of comments — the video in question went missing early Wednesday. (Not that it matters much. The link’s been broken since Saturday.)

On Monday, Good Morning America heard reactions from both sides of the controversy, Amanda Knox and Hayden Panettiere:

It’s this sort of thing that makes us miss the old Lifetime, when the network’s most controversial issues were tackled on Golden Girls reruns.