A few years back the family of James Pinckney Miller donated his materials to us. A 1941 Rice graduate, Miller wrote the teleplay and the screenplay for Days of Wine and Roses and the teleplay for Helter Skelter.
In the 1980s, he tackled another true crime topic, the story of the kidnapping and reappearance of Steven Stayner. Our J. P. Miller collection contains drafts of the mini-series, I Know My Name is Steven, which aired in May 1989. It also contains the preliminary research that Miller did with the Stayner family and others related to the case.
Recently digitized tapes from Miller’s collection form part of the research and the larger story for the new Hulu docu-series, Captive Audience: A Real American Horror Story. During the series, actors from the original mini-series lend their voices to transcripts created from the tapes in Miller’s archival collection.
While Woodson materials are used by researchers in different ways, the docu-series was an interesting way for Miller’s research to be re-purposed.
Returning back to the original mini-series, it was successful. It received four Emmy nominations and had high viewership. Reflecting on his work, Miller wrote the letter below.