After endless promotional movie clips, Lifetime Movie Network (LMN) finally premiered "Deadly Honeymoon" tonight. The movie is loosely based (very loosely based) on the tragic death of George Smith IV during his honeymoon cruise with our client, Jennifer Hagel, aboard Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas cruise ship in July 2005.
The movie follows two young newlyweds from Denver, Colorado as they embark on their honeymoon cruise from their "picture-perfect" wedding in Hawaii. The actors in the TV movie are Chris Carmack as "Trevor Forrest" and Summer Glau who plays his newly wed wife, "Lindsey."
LMN describes the dream vacation evolving into a night of "wild partying, infidelity and strange encounters with a group of passengers."
The next morning the passengers awake to find Trevor missing, presumed to have fallen overboard to his death. But as the investigation proceeds, an FBI Investigator who just happens to be aboard the cruise ship questions whether Trevor’s death really was just an accident.
I had never heard of the Lifetime Movie Network before. Now I know why.
The movie is very dramatic. But like most Hollywood productions it is ridiculous, having little to so with the actual facts of the case. I can't imagine being a member of the Hagel or Smith families having to watch this nonsense.
In reality, was there "partying" during George Smith's cruise? Yes, but what cruise ship doesn't have partying and drinking? Was there "infidelity?" No. Were there "strange encounters" with other passengers? Yes. Passengers Josh Askin, Rusty Koffman and the two Rosenbergs who were last with George Smith on the night in question are motley characters, in my opinion. Two nights after George Smith disappeared, they were accused of raping or watching the assault of a young woman on the cruise ship. But Royal Caribbean had already sent their defense lawyers to the scene, and the charges were quickly dropped. Greg Rosenberg, one of the men in George Smith's cabin before Mr. Smith went overboard, is reportedly serving time today on drug trafficking charges. He is in prison at this moment.
But does this movie, provide any insight into what happened on July 5, 2005 when the Brilliance of the Seas was sailing to Kusadasi, Turkey? No.
In real life, disappearances on cruise ships, whether due to crime or not, are rarely solved. This is due to the failure of the cruise industry to protect U.S. passenger on foreign-flagged cruise ships like the Brilliance of the Seas. And the failure of the Federal Bureau of Investigations to prosecute crimes which occur on the high seas.
In the last 10 years, over 130 passengers have "disappeared." Most cases remain mysteries. This is something that cruise lines don't want the U.S. public to know.
July 6, 2010 Update - Five Years Later:
September 14, 2010 Update On George Smith Disappearance Case:
There is now a final settlement - Cruise Disappearance Case of George Smith IV - Civil Case Settled But Is Justice Done?
Credit: Lifetime Movie Network