Plot: Recovering alcoholic and womanizing reporter Steve Everett (Clint Eastwood), who can't stay out of trouble with his bosses (mostly because he is sleeping with their wives), inherits a human interest story about a prisoner, Frank Louis Beachum (Isaiah Washington), who is sentenced to die at midnight for the murder of a pregnant woman who owed him ninety-six dollars. However, Steve immediately figures out that the key witness lied about what he saw, and believes the prisoner is innocent. He then sets out to prove his belief in the final twelve hours of Frank's life. Editor-in-Chief Alan Mann (James Woods) is the only man who still believes in Steve's talents. Editor Bob Findley (Denis Leary) wants him fired for his direct belligerence and the fact that he slept with Bob's wife, Patricia (Laila Robins).
Alternative Plot: Journalist Steve Everett (Clint Eastwood) has been sober two months, but things are still going badly. Steve's marriage to Barbara (Diane Venora) is barely holding together, and his editor (Denis Leary) hates him, since Steve has been having an affair with his wife. A chance assignment finds Everett interviewing death row inmate Frank Beachum (Isaiah Washington). When Everett uncovers evidence indicating Beachum may be innocent, he must race against time to uncover the truth.