Laura Dern was ‘afraid’ going into maximum-security prison to film

Laura Dern’s in “Trial by Fire.”

It’s a killer story about Cameron Todd Willingham, an alleged killer incarcerated on death row, legally executed and now believed to have been innocent.

Laura: “It’s a true story. I play divorced single parent everyday simple humane citizen Elizabeth Gilbert, who didn’t know him but fought for his freedom. Due to a reach-out program, where with a mere gesture you just show kindness to one who might need it, she, assuming his guilt, wrote him. A correspondence developed. Visiting him in prison, she learned of the injustice.

“Elizabeth and I have met. Generous with her time, she gave us his letters. She didn’t save him but her original 10-minute gesture of writing a simple hopeful letter has since saved the life of others and subsequently impacted a massive number of innocent people.”

The New Yorker published David Grann’s award-winning story about this. When it turned into a movie, Laura told the producers she wanted to play Elizabeth.

And what was it like filming in prison?

“On other films I’ve worked in jails, so I’ve experienced it. This one was maximum-security. The environment is invented to enforce that. Weapons were everywhere. You’re pushed around. I went in afraid. I came out in heartbreak. Like this was a waste of human life.”

Heartbreak to television’s a great leap, but what’s next for Dern?

“Doesn’t seem believable but . . . next week I’m right back here again. It’s p.r. for Season 2 of HBO’s ‘Big Little Lies.’”

Pay attention

A Word-for-word Doris Day comment to me: “I’ve never found any men to compare to my pets. I don’t think husbands or lovers are even necessary” . . . AND, listen, anyone desperate to find Kathleen Turner, she seems to be a semi-regular at Demarchelier restaurant . . . ANOTHER listen. Any cheapo who can’t spring for a Rembrandt, be it known a Met shirt sells at the Met Museum for — ready? — $600.

Gov soiree exclusive

Tonight Cuomo’s throwing former staffers a party.

Exclusive. Private. Super secret. Alumni only.

The thing’s so hushed that El Supremo himself probably doesn’t even know where it is. I’ll tell him. It’s a West Side private clandestine penthouse. Rules are invitees may not bring a friend, spouse, goldfish, headhunter or camera. Guests include fund-raisers, etceteras, maybe even lobbyists, who once called the Gov “boss.”

Not RSVPing will be those unfortunately detained. Like former aide Joe Percoco, ex Economic Development czar Alain Kaloyeros and anyone else whose graduation may be from pinstripes to prison stripes. Needless to say, due to some unfortunate miscalculation my invite has gone straight to spam.

Sleeper hit gets 3rd chapter

Super success is “John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum,” third installment of Keanu Reeves’ super adrenaline rotten badass assassin John Wick.

Its producer Basil Iwanyk: “Who knew? Nobody figured it for a hit. No one believed we had anything, let alone a hit. In the beginning, we weren’t sure it would even get off the ground. We showed it to every studio. Nobody wanted it.”

Canadian innovation

Following Hudson Yards’ downtown rebuild, next to try juicing up is Toronto.

It’s contacted Sidewalk Labs, an NYC op which rebuilds and technically advances aging cities so they can take a shot at turning into the 21st century. Toronto’s first new skyscraper opens in 2024.

Wall Street: “Because of oil, the Arabs have most of their wealth in the ground. Because of the stock market, so do we.”

Only in New York, kids, only in New York.

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