Movies

Newspaper chief calls out Clint Eastwood’s new movie over controversial portrayal of its reporter

Clint Eastwood at the 2019 AFI Fest screening of Richard Jewell in Los Angeles on November 20.

Clint Eastwood at the 2019 AFI Fest screening of Richard Jewell in Los Angeles on November 20.   | Photo Credit: AP

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Richard Jewell’s portrayal of AJC’s reporter, Kathy Scruggs, is “it’s offensive and deeply troubling in the #MeToo era,” he says.

Veteran filmmaker Clint Eastwood’s upcoming feature Richard Jewell has been criticised by the editor-in-chief of a newspaper for the controversial portrayal of its reporter in the film.

The film is based on Richard Jewell, the real-life security guard whose world turned upside down after the FBI leaked to an overenthusiastic Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) reporter that he was a possible suspect for the pipe-bombing at Centennial Park during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

From that moment on, Jewell went from a hero to one of the most hated men in the U.S.

Paul Walter Hauser is playing the title role in the Warner Bros film alongside Sam Rockwell as Mr. Jewell’s attorney and Kathy Bates as his mother.

In a letter to The Wrap, AJC editor-in-chief Kevin G. Riley said the film tried to show that its reporter, Kathy Scruggs (portrayed by Olivia Wilde), slept with an FBI officer (Jon Hamm) in exchange for information, which he claimed as false.

“There is no evidence that this ever happened, and if the film portrays this, it’s offensive and deeply troubling in the #MeToo era,” Mr. Riley said in his letter.

He said that though he has not seen the film, he got to know about the film’s portrayal of Scruggs through his colleague who recently attended the movie’s preview screening.

“Kathy Scruggs was the AJC reporter who got the initial information that law enforcement was pursuing Jewell. Scruggs was known as an aggressive reporter and committed journalist who sought always to beat her competition,” Mr. Riley said.

He also defended the newspaper’s coverage of the FBI’s investigation into Jewell.

“The decision to publish was influenced by several factors, including the AJC’s confirmation from law-enforcement sources that they were focusing on Jewell, and highly visible FBI activity at Jewell’s apartment, where agents were preparing to execute a search warrant,” Mr. Riley wrote.

At the film’s AFI Fest world premiere, Mr. Eastwood told reporters that Jewell’s story was a “a great American tragedy”, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Jewell was cleared by the FBI after 88 days. He died in 2007 at the age of 44 due to heart attack.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 11:35:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/newspaper-chief-calls-out-clint-eastwoods-new-movie-over-controversial-portrayal-of-its-reporter/article30052361.ece

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