Allred – spoofed last weekend on "Saturday Night Live" as a publicity hound, famous for representing women whose plights quickly became media fodder – announced that she has sent a letter to Swank, and hoped for "a positive, thoughtful and caring response."
The letter requests a meeting between the children and Swank and the filmmakers. "[Melrose's] mother was not just a name, and was not and is not a person who should be used as a line in a script or just a way to make a profit for the entertainment industry," Allred wrote. The correspondence also included questions that Melrose would have asked the filmmakers had she been contacted.
Allred concedes this is not a legal issue, but a moral one. "It should be for Hollywood producers to reach out," said Allred, rather than having the burden fall on the victim's family members to get in touch with Hollywood. "You have time to make a movie, you have time to make a phone call."
And, Allred told ABCnews.com, a letter to a victim's family is insufficient. "There needs to be a conversation," she said. "Filmmakers should have the courtesy to listen to family members' concerns."
Although Allred said she has hopes for a new moral standard in Hollywood associated with this type of issue, not all legal experts think the matter is so simple.
"A film producer may be reluctant to talk to people not central to or depicted in the movie, because it may start a slippery slope," said Jimmy Nguyen, an entertainment and intellectual property lawyer at Wildman Harrold Allen & Dixon in Los Angeles.
Nguyen cites impracticality – there may be too many people to contact. "Family members contacted also may request monetary compensation, even though legally there is no obligation," he said. "And the family may make requests that would complicate making the film."
The key question for filmmakers, said Nguyen, should be, "Whose perspective is being shown?" In the case of "Conviction," he said, the focus is on Betty Anne Waters and her brother Kenny. And, he added, White had sold the rights to her story. The information about Brow used in "Conviction" was public knowledge, used in court documents.
Allred said she doesn't buy into the argument that producers' lives would be complicated if they reach out to the people in their films. "Nothing is more complicated than the life of a murder victim's family," she said.