ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION TO CLINT EASTWOOD: “GET OFF MY LAWN”
The Atlanta Journal Constitution has retained Attorney Marty Singer to represent it in a dispute with Warner Brothers and Clint Eastwood over the new film “Richard Jewell.” According to IMDB, the movie tells the story of “American security guard Richard Jewell (Paul Walter Hauser) saves thousands of lives from an exploding bomb at the 1996 Olympics, but is vilified by journalists and the press who falsely report that he was a terrorist.”
That is not really true. Jewell sued the Atlanta Journal Constitution for libel based on its reporting, and he lost. The court ruled that the newspaper accurately reported that he was a suspect in the Olympic bombing. But that is not why the AJC has retained a high powered lawyer.
The film depicts a real life reporter, the late Kathy Scruggs as having traded sex for information with an FBI informant. That never happened. It is made up.
Now, I get that movies take some liberties. One of my favorite films ever, “Remember the Titans” culminates with the T.C. Williams High School football team winning the Virginia state championship on a 75 yard run by its injured quarterback. That didn’t happen. The Titans actually won 27-0, with the actual opponent netting minus 5 yards total offense. But who cares? “Remember the Titans” didn’t purport to “tell the untold story.” The “Richard Jewell” movie does. And that’s the problem.
I get that Clint Eastwood wants to paint a picture of a dishonest media railroading Richard Jewell. Admittedly the fact that the AJC never did that is problematic. But to invent a story line that knowingly and falsely disparages a reporter’s integrity is no way to solve that problem.
If you want to invent facts to push a phony narrative, that’s what fiction is for. But don’t sell a movie as the “truth” when it blatantly lies. Everyone involved with this travesty – and that includes Clint Eastwood, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell, John Hamm and Kathy Bates should be ashamed of themselves.