Tension between Warner Bros. and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution over “Richard Jewell” has escalated after the newspaper sent a legal threat to the studio on Tuesday urging Warner Bros. to add a disclaimer to the Clint Eastwood-directed drama that notes the film takes dramatic liberties with the true story at its center. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution hinted at legal action should Warner Bros. not comply with its demand. The newspaper has been highly critical of “Richard Jewell,” most strongly over its depiction of reporter Kathy Scruggs. Olivia Wilde stars as Scruggs in the film, which includes one scene in which it’s implied Wilde trades sex for news scoops.
Scruggs' portrayal in “Richard Jewell” was condemned last month by Atlanta Journal-Constitution editor in chief Kevin Riley, who said in a statement to IndieWire “there is no evidence that this ever happened” and called the film's suggestion that Scruggs traded sex for news tips “offensive and deeply troubling in the #MeToo era.”
Warner Bros. responded to the newspaper’s December 9 legal threat by firmly standing by Eastwood’s movie. In real life, Scruggs was one of the reporters who named Richard Jewell as a suspect in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic bombing. Scruggs was innocent, but the newspaper’s report helped put Jewell’s life under scrutiny for an extended period of time. Warner Bros. suggested that by threatening legal action over “Richard Jewell” the newspaper is attempting to divert attention away from its questionable reporting at the time.
“The film is based on a wide range of highly credible source material,” Warner Bros.' statement reads via Variety. “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. 'Richard Jewell' focuses on the real victim, seeks to tell his story, confirm his innocence and restore his name. The AJC's claims are baseless and we will vigorously defend against them.”
Olivia Wilde has also defended the film and its portrayal of her character. Speaking to reporters at the Gotham Awards earlier this month, Wilde said, “I think it's a shame that she has been reduced to one inferred moment in the film. It's a basic misunderstanding of feminism as pious sexlessness. It happens a lot to women; we're expected to be one-dimensional if we are to be considered feminists. There's a complexity to Kathy, as there is to all of us, and I really admired her.”
When Kathy Bates smashed that sledgehammer into James Caan's ankles 30 years ago in Misery, the world may have collectively cringed, but it made Bates an unforgettable force in Hollywood history.
The then 42-year-old actress wasn't a household name when she took on that role of homicidal nurse Annie Wilkes. She'd had theatrical successes, and appeared in a few smaller films and television shows like St. Elsewhere and L.A. Law. And yet, that year, she took home an Oscar, proving the game wasn't up for women over 35. Not by a long shot.
This year, Bates is enjoying her fourth Oscar nomination, this time for Richard Jewell, the Clint Eastwood-directed true tale of a heroic security guard falsely accused of planting a bomb at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, although he actually found the device and saved many lives.
Despite the Academy recognition, it's only very recently, in conversation with Eastwood, that she allowed herself to consider her success.
“I said to Clint, 'I've been doing this for 50 years, but I finally feel like I hit the big time.'” She says. “And I don't mean with all the marching bands and the confetti, I mean, working with another incredible director, and doing a story that matters.”
And Richard Jewell really does matter, in that telling the true story of a wrongly-accused person will always matter. Jewell surely deserves all the public exoneration a big-name feature film can deliver, even after his untimely death at 44 in 2007.
The film details his intense media and FBI hounding, while his mother Bobi, played by Bates, suffers under the weight of defending her son.
Feeling “extremely nervous”, Bates flew to Atlanta ahead of the shoot for her first ever meeting with Eastwood. “I remember asking him why he wanted to make this movie,” she says, “and at first he looked up with those eyes and I thought, 'Oh God, here we go.' Then he said, 'Well, I think it's a movie I'd like to see.' He was so angry at how Richard had been treated. He felt this was an American tragedy, and that it needed to be told.”
So, she went to work, researching Bobi Jewell. And then they met. “We sat and talked for two or three hours and I recorded her voice. We went through the script and she corrected a few things. She teared up quite a few times. She was very determined. She gave me the Vanity Fair article that Marie Brenner had written that the film is based on. Bobi looked very different then, she was more my size, so that made me feel good. At one point I said, 'I just want to get this right for you Bobi.' And almost like a little girl, she said, 'Well, just be me.' And I thought, 'Oh...
Tom Ascheim is headed to WarnerMedia. The former Freeform President has been named President of Global Kids, Young Adults and Classics for Warner Bros. He will oversee Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and Boomerang, the studios of Cartoon Network and Warner Bros. Animation in Los Angeles and will have global responsibility for the Turner Classic Movies channel. He will start in the summer, reporting to Warner Bros. chair and CEO Ann Sarnoff.
The news comes as Ascheim earlier today stepped down as President of Freeform after six and a half years at the Disney network, triggering immediate speculation that he had lined up another job.
At Warner Bros, he reunites with Sarnoff with whom he previously worked at Nickelodeon.
“I am excited that Tom will be joining Warner Bros,” Sarnoff said. “He is an excellent executive and collaborative leader with an impressive track record and deep experience in the kids and young adult worlds. I had the benefit of seeing Tom's skills firsthand when we were at Nickelodeon and really look forward to working with him again.”
Ascheim’s appointment helps fill the void left by the departure at the end of 2019 of Christina Miller, who stepped down as President of Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Boomerang and TCM after almost 15 years with the company. Ascheim’s larger portfolio includes oversight of production operations, including Warner Bros. Animation.
The content under Ascheim’s purview are distributed in 192 countries around the world. The division's networks are in 500 million homes and delivered through over 65 channels in 31 languages. Ascheim will work with executives at Warner Bros. and the WarnerMedia Global Distribution and Advertising Sales team to develop and implement global and local strategies for the brands.
“I am thrilled to be joining Warner Bros. and especially excited to be working with the deeply talented folks at Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Boomerang, TCM and Warner Bros. Animation,” said Ascheim. “I’ve been watching their work since I was a child and it’s thrilling to be part of such a storied group. I’m equally excited to be working again with Ann Sarnoff who remains one of the best people I’ve ever had the privilege to work with.”
Ascheim joined Freeform when it was still ABC Family in December 2013 and oversaw its rebrand into Freeform. Original series on Freeform include hit comedy grown-ish as well as dramas The Bold Type, Siren, Good Trouble, Party of Five, the newest addition, Motherland: Fort Salem, and the upcoming Last Summer produced by Jessica Biel.
A well liked executive, Ascheim has spent much of his career catering tp younger audiences. He joined the millennial-focued Freeform after serving as General Manager of...