20 Dec DEFAMATION (US) – WARNER BROS. BOSSES FIRE BACK AT RICHARD JEWELL MOVIE DEFAMATION CLAIMS
Atlanta’s leading newspaper, Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) is gearing up to take on Clint Eastwood’s latest film, Richard Jewell, in an argument about the on-screen portrayal of one of its legendary reporters.
The paper says the depiction in the movie of the now-deceased reporter Kathy Scruggs, played by Olivia Wilde, is “offensive” and “highly defamatory”.
Richard Jewell depicts Scruggs as sleeping with an FBI agent in return for information from a source in the aftermath of the 1996 Olympic Bombing in Atlanta.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has repeatedly denounced the movie’s treatment of the veteran reporter, who broke the news that the FBI was focusing on Jewell in the investigation.
“Such a portrayal makes it appear that the AJC sexually exploited its staff and/or that it facilitated or condoned offering sexual gratification to sources in exchange for stories. That is entirely false and malicious, and it is extremely defamatory and damaging,” says the letter sent on behalf of the paper, to Eastwood, screenwriter Billy Ray and Warner Brothers executives.
‘It’s not how the AJC operates’, said Kevin Riley, the paper’s editor, after Warner Bros. dismissed the paper’s claims as “baseless”.
Warner Brothers said in a statement that 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 disclaimer at the end of the film is: ‘The film is based on actual historical events. Dialogue and certain events and characters contained in the film were created for the purposes of dramatization,” the studio added.