In the twilight of his career, legendary Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood may have made his most controversial film to-date with “Richard Jewell.”
Highlighting the the events surrounding the Centennial Olympic Park bombing at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia and the personal struggles and eventual vindication of the film’s namesake, Eastwood’s latest effort has incurred the wrath of the media — and one very powerful Hollywood lawyer.
Originally criticized by The Daily Beast as a “MAGA screed” that unnecessarily vilifies the government and media, critics of of “Richard Jewell” are now focusing their attention on the film’s controversial depiction of the late reporter Kathy Scruggs.
As reported in The Wrap, Eastwood’s new flick reportedly portrays the former Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter (played by Olivia Wilde) as essentially trading sex for inside information from FBI agent Tom Shaw (portrayed by “Mad Men” actor Jon Hamm) about the agency’s ill-fated investigation into Jewell as a suspect.
Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern typified the rage of some journalists with the following post to Twitter:
Please do not pay to see movies that feature fictional female journalists who sleep with with sources for a story. It's an egregiously sexist, demeaning, insulting trope and at this stage I don't see an appropriate response other than a flat-out boycott. https://t.co/UvxsYXd6MK
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) December 9, 2019
Amid the film’s controversy, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has turned to top Hollywood attorney Martin D. Singer, who has sent a threatening letter to journalist Marie Brenner (whose prior work for Vanity Fair served as source material for Eastwood’s film) and screenwriter Billy Ray. In it, Singer says the film “falsely portrays the AJC and its personnel as extraordinarily reckless…” The high-powered attorney then demands the filmmakers release a public statement describing the “artistic license” exercised in the move, before warning: “You … disregard this letter’s demands at your peril.”
Warner Bros., the production company behind Eastwood’s effort, is standing by its director and his work, as reported by Variety. In part, Warner Bros. said in a statement: “The film is based on a wide range of highly credible source material. There is no disputing that Richard Jewell was an innocent man whose reputation and life were shredded by a miscarriage of justice. It is unfortunate and the ultimate irony that the Atlanta Journal Constitution, having been a part of the rush to judgment of Richard Jewell, is now trying to malign our filmmakers and cast.”
If nothing else, the controversy surrounding “Richard Jewell” has a lot of people talking. How this will impact box office figures remains to be seen.
Written by Red Blue Divide editorial staff.