UPDATE: Pressure from Democrats and Republicans puts an end to the highly anticipated project.
CNN Films will not continue with its upcoming documentary about Hillary Clinton after directorCharles H. Ferguson backed away from the project.
“Charles Ferguson has informed us that he is not moving forward with his documentary about Hillary Clinton,” a CNN spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter. “Charles is an Academy Award-winning director who CNN Films was excited to be working with, but we understand and respect his decision.”
CNN will not be proceeding with the film after Ferguson chose not to move forward, THR has confirmed.
Ferguson said he struggled to find sources and interview subjects for the project, as both supporters and opponents of Clinton were unwilling to cooperate, he wrote in a Huffington Post column.
“When I approached people for interviews, I discovered that nobody, and I mean nobody, was interested in helping me make this film. Not Democrats, not Republicans — and certainly nobody who works with the Clintons, wants access to the Clintons, or dreams of a position in a Hillary Clinton administration. Not even journalists who want access, which can easily be taken away,” Ferguson wrote. “I even sensed potential difficulty in licensing archival footage from [PatRobertson‘s] CBN and from Fox. After approaching well over a hundred people, only two persons who had ever dealt with Mrs. Clinton would agree to an on-camera interview, and I suspected that even they would back out.”
Ferguson said he became aware, through his work on the film, that both the Republican and Democratic parties didn’t want the film made.
“Quietly and privately, prominent Democrats made it known both to CNN and to me that they weren’t delighted with the film,” he wrote.
This summer, the Republican National Committee voted to ban 2016 primary debates from CNN due to the documentary.
“There are forces out there that want to divide our party. But we’re not going to let them get in the way of our mission — whether they’re naysayers or news networks,” said RNC chairman Reince Priebus in prepared remarks at the organization’s summer meeting in Boston. “That’s why we said to the media, with a united voice, that a network that spends millions to spotlight Hillary Clinton is a network with an obvious bias. And that’s a network that won’t be hosting a single Republican primary debate.”
NBC had also planned a miniseries about the former secretary of state, leading the RNC to ban its networks from 2016 primary debates; however, many at NBCUniversal now believe that project won’t happen either.
Ferguson also wrote that the day after he signed a contract to do the film, he was interrogated by Clinton’s press secretary, Nick Merrill, who would not grant his request for an off-the-record conversation with the former secretary of state.
Further attempts to talk to Clinton were also unsuccessful.
Clinton aide Philippe Reines also contacted various people at CNN, interrogated them and expressed concerns about his documentary, Ferguson wrote.
“After painful reflection, I decided that I couldn’t make a film of which I would be proud. And so I’m cancelling. (Not because of any pressure from CNN — quite the contrary.) It’s a victory for the Clintons, and for the money machines that both political parties have now become. But I don’t think that it’s a victory for the media, or for the American people,” Ferguson wrote.
NBC’s Hillary Clinton Nightmare: Who Loses Most (Analysis)
5:00 AM PDT 8/21/2013 by Kim Masters
Robert Greenblatt prompts a political firestorm as GOP outcry and questions about what NBCU’s Steve Burke knew tarnish a miniseries that insiders predict will disappear.
This story first appeared in the Sept. 6 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
OUR EDITOR RECOMMENDS
As soon as NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblattrevealed July 27 that the network was planning a four-hour miniseries about Hillary Clinton, a veteran broadcast executive with no ties to the project talked it over with a colleague, who shared his surprise. “We immediately said, ‘What a clusterf— this is going to be,’ ” he recalls.
Whether such a miniseries could pull in big ratings is a matter for debate, but industry observers agree that for NBC, the potential upside, even in success, is far outweighed by the gale-force blowback. That already includes the Republican National Committee’s Aug. 16 vote to boycott NBC (and CNN, which has commissioned a Clinton documentary from Inside Job Oscar winner Charles Ferguson) during the 2016 presidential primary debates, even though, as Greenblatt has noted, no script has been written and nothing has been put into production. Greenblatt’s move also has enraged segments of NBC’s news division. Political director Chuck Todd has called the Clinton project a “nightmare,” and chief foreign-affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell has said it is “a really bad idea given the timing.”
Sources at NBCUniversal maintain that CEO Steve Burke is not pressuring Greenblatt to drop the miniseries. But many at the company now believe the project will never happen. “I don’t think anybody anticipated it would become such a headache so quickly,” says an NBCU source.
It might be that NBC already has found an exit. THR revealed Aug. 16 that Fox Television Studios has declined to produce the miniseries, ostensibly for financial and not political reasons. Other studios have passed as well, including NBCU’s own Universal Television (not for lack of know-how; Bela Bajaria, who runs the TV production arm, was senior vp movies and miniseries at CBS). If the Clinton plan fades because NBCU pursues an unmakeable deal, some might still believe the real issue was politics. But the company could argue that this hardly was the first project to succumb to the difficult economics of the business. Greenblatt seemed to set the stage for that outcome in an Aug. 16 statement noting that the Clinton project “is in development, the first stage of any television series or movie, many of which never go to production.” (He declined further comment.)
Even if the idea vanishes, many wonder how NBC got itself into this mess. Why would Greenblatt approve such a radioactive project just before briefing TV critics at NBC’s summer gathering? And what did the politically conservative Burke know, and when did he know it? “Either Burke didn’t see the issue, which was bad, or he thought it was still OK to do it, which was bad, or he didn’t know about it, which was bad,” says the broadcast veteran. “Do you think Les [Moonves at CBS] would have gone down this road?”
An NBCU source says Burke was aware of the project before Greenblatt announced it, but sources with ties to the network believe Greenblatt did not seek Burke’s blessing or flag the deal in a meaningful way. (Greenblatt likely knew the project would be controversial given that he was president of entertainment at Showtime in 2003 when CBS dumped its The Reagans miniseries there after conservatives attacked it.)
Some believe Greenblatt had two understandable interests: making a splashy announcement at the press tour, as programming chiefs like to do, and pursuing ratings for his challenged network. Insiders think Greenblatt also genuinely was sold on the idea of Diane Lane playing Clinton and is fascinated by the subject himself. In such a situation, associates say Greenblatt would be likely to dig in his heels, as he has with passion projects like NBC’s low-rated Smash. For instance, sources say Greenblatt lately has been reserving his enthusiasm primarily for the upcoming limited seriesDracula with Jonathan Rhys Meyers, which premieres Oct. 25, and the live three-hour The Sound of Music event starring Carrie Underwood, set to air Dec. 5.
Although the Clinton project underscores the conflict between the networks’ news and entertainment divisions, the public statements by Todd and Mitchell, who both appear on NBC and MSNBC, expose the divide between NBC News and the liberal-leaning cable network.
“It’s a bit rich for Todd and Mitchell to cry foul now about their journalistic purity being contaminated by commercial and ideological considerations,” says independent TV news analystAndrew Tyndall. “As if the MSNBC lineup where Todd and Mitchell ply their trade every day is not shared with activist ideologues such as Al Sharpton and Ed Schultz.”
To that end, sources at NBC News say that it was not simply Republican ire that set the news division on edge. Rather, it was the specter of retaliation from the former first lady and secretary of state, who very well could be a leading 2016 presidential candidate. The Clintons’ penchant for grudges is legendary. And Hillary in 2008 threatened to boycott an MSNBC-sponsored debate over former anchor David Shuster‘s comment that Chelsea Clinton had been “pimped out” for her mother’s campaign. Any scripted Clinton project almost certainly would include content objectionable to Bill and Hillary. “The Clintons are the ones to worry about,” says an NBC source. “Who needs those headaches?”
In the end, probably not Greenblatt. NBCU sources predict the executive will let the furor die down and the project will simply disappear without a big announcement. In hindsight, says a top exec at one television studio, a Clinton miniseries makes sense for Greenblatt — except for one thing: “He’s not running a cable channel anymore.”
ferguson: inside job – farlig mand at have rendende.
NBC Scraps Hillary Clinton Miniseries
1:57 PM PDT 9/30/2013 by Lesley Goldberg
“After reviewing and prioritizing our slate of movie/miniseries development, we’ve decided that we will no longer continue developing the Hillary Clinton miniseries,” the network said in a statement Monday.
NBC has scrapped its controversial Hillary Clinton miniseries project.
OUR EDITOR RECOMMENDS
“After reviewing and prioritizing our slate of movie/miniseries development, we’ve decided that we will no longer continue developing the Hillary Clinton miniseries,” the network said in a statement Monday.
The news comes hours after CNN Films opted tocancel its planned documentary on the former secretary of state and first lady after pressure from both Democrats and Republicans.
NBC announced in July that it was developing a four-hour miniseries based on Clinton starringDiane Lane, with plans to air the effort before Clinton was likely to announce her candidacy for president. The project was due to be written byFrozen River‘s Courtney Hunt and would have recounted Clinton’s life as a wife, mother, politician and cabinet member from 1998 to the present. The script would have started with Clinton living in the White House as her husband Bill Clinton is serving the second of his two terms as president and would have included her likely run for president.
But the announcement by NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt sparked an almost instant political firestorm. The Republican National Committee voted Aug. 16 to boycott NBC (and CNN) during the 2016 presidential primary debates — even though no script had been written and nothing had been put into production. The project also enraged segments of NBC’s news division. Political director Chuck Todd called the Clinton project a “nightmare,” and chief foreign-affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell said the concept was a “really bad idea given the timing.”
Sources told THR that NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke was not pressuring Greenblatt to drop the mini, but many within the company believed the project would never happen. Fox Television Studios declined to produce the mini, ostensibly for financial and not political reasons. Other studios passed on the project, including NBCUniversal’s own Universal Television. An NBCU source told THR that Burke was aware of the project before Greenblatt announced it, but sources with ties to the network believe Greenblatt did not seek Burke’s blessing or flag the deal before announcing it.
Greenblatt likely knew the Hillary project would be controversial given that he was president of entertainment at Showtime in 2003 when sister company CBS dumped itsThe Reagans miniseries on the cable net after conservatives attacked it.
NBC also is developing another controversial miniseries, this one about Johnny Carson based on Bill Zehme‘s long-gestating book Carson the Magnificent. After announcing the project Sept. 19, Greenblatt told THR that he won’t produce the mini without the blessing of Carson’s family and expressed optimism that it would work out.
Beyond the Carson mini, NBC also is developing an updated remake of Rosemary’s Babyand a new version of Stephen King‘s Tommyknockers. Also in the works is Mark Burnett‘s limited series Plymouth and a follow-up to History’s The Bible, among others.
ferguson i huffington post
Director, Wall Street documentary ‘Inside Job’; Author, ‘Predator Nation’
GET UPDATES FROM CHARLES FERGUSON
Why I Am Cancelling My Documentary on Hillary Clinton
Posted: 09/30/2013 8:22 am
GET MEDIA NEWSLETTERS:
In late 2012, CNN Films approached me about directing a documentary. We discussed a number of potential subjects, and eventually settled on Hillary Rodham Clinton. The film would be ambitious, controversial, and highly visible. But I felt that it was important, that I was qualified to do it, and that I could be fair. CNN gave me complete control (“final cut”) over the theatrical version, and a generous budget.
And then the fun began. The day after the contract was signed, I received a message from Nick Merrill, Hillary Clinton’s press secretary. He already knew about the film, and clearly had a source within CNN. He interrogated me; at first I answered, but eventually I stopped. When I requested an off-the-record, private conversation with Mrs. Clinton, Merrill replied that she was busy writing her book, and not speaking to the media.
Next came Phillipe Reines, Hillary Clinton’s media fixer, who contacted various people at CNN, interrogated them, and expressed concern about alleged conflicts of interest generated because my film was a for-profit endeavor (as nearly all documentaries and news organizations are). When I contacted him, he declined to speak with me. He then repeated his allegations to Politico, which published them.
CNN and I decided to publicly confirm the film project to clear the air. Immediately afterwards, the chairman of the Republican National Committee announced that the Republicans would boycott CNN with regard to the Republican presidential primary debates in 2016. Shortly afterwards, the entire RNC voted to endorse this position. This did not surprise me. What did surprise me was that, quietly and privately, prominent Democrats made it known both to CNN and to me that they weren’t delighted with the film, either.
Next came David Brock, who published an open letter on his highly partisan Democratic website Media Matters, in which he endorsed the Republican National Committee’s position, repeating Reines’ conflict of interest allegations and suggesting that my documentary would revive old, discredited Clinton scandal stories. Coming from Mr. Brock, this was rather amusing. David Brock began life as an ultraconservative “investigative journalist,” quotation marks very much intended, spreading scandal with little regard for truth. He first attracted attention with The Real Anita Hill, his nasty (and factually wrong) hatchet job on the woman who, during Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearings, said that Thomas had sexually harassed her. Years later, he apologized and switched to the Democrats.
When Brock published his letter about my film, I got in touch with several prominent Democrats who knew Hillary Clinton. I told them that this campaign against the film and against CNN was counterproductive. They conveyed this message to Mrs. Clinton personally, along with my request to speak with her. The answer that came back was, basically, over my dead body.
None of this deterred or even greatly bothered me. I flew to New York and had a two hour meeting with CNN’s President Jeff Zucker and his senior staff. They were great. They asked me how I was holding up — I said fine. They pledged their support, expressed dismay that things were so nasty, and told me to go forth and make my film. I did so.
In June, I attended a dinner for Bill Clinton, which was educational. Clinton spoke passionately about his foundation, about African wildlife, inequality, childhood obesity, and much else with enormous factual command, emotion, and rhetorical power. But he and I also spoke privately. I asked him about the financial crisis. He paused and then became even more soulful, thoughtful, passionate, and articulate. And then he proceeded to tell me the most amazing lies I’ve heard in quite a while.
For example, Mr. Clinton sorrowfully lamented his inability to stop the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which banned all regulation of private (OTC) derivatives trading, and thereby greatly worsened the crisis. Mr. Clinton said that he and Larry Summers had argued with Alan Greenspan, but couldn’t budge him, and then Congress passed the law by a veto-proof supermajority, tying his hands. Well, actually, the reason that the law passed by that overwhelming margin was because of the Clinton Administration’s strong advocacy, including Congressional testimony by Larry Summers and harsh public and private attacks on advocates of regulation by Summers and Robert Rubin.
Wow, I thought, this guy is a really good actor. And I also saw one reason why Hillary Clinton might not be thrilled about my movie. I discovered others. In Arkansas, she joined the boards of Walmart and Tyson Foods. One of the largest donors to the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation is the government of Saudi Arabia. The Clintons’ personal net worth now probably exceeds $200 million, and while earned legally, both the money’s sources and the Clintons’ public statements indicate a strong aversion to rocking boats or making powerful enemies.
It was not always thus. When Bill Clinton became President, he and Hillary initially attempted courageous reforms: allowing gays to serve in the military, a carbon tax, health care reform. But they got their heads handed to them: Colin Powell went on television telling America that if gays served in the military, morale would suffer. And the Clintons also learned about money, because back then they had none. When they were mercilessly hounded by Kenneth Starr and Congressional Republicans, culminating in impeachment, their legal bills soared and the Clintons fell many millions of dollars into debt. (To be sure, Bill Clinton poured gasoline on the fire by lying.) It is very clear that the Clintons then decided never to be at anyone’s mercy again. And since Bill Clinton first became Governor of Arkansas, the cost of Presidential campaigns has gone from $66 million (both parties combined, in 1976) to an estimated $5 billion for 2016, when Hillary will run. So more than ever, the Clintons need money and the people who supply it.
I would have loved to explore all this. But when I approached people for interviews, I discovered that nobody, and I mean nobody, was interested in helping me make this film. Not Democrats, not Republicans — and certainly nobody who works with the Clintons, wants access to the Clintons, or dreams of a position in a Hillary Clinton administration. Not even journalists who want access, which can easily be taken away. I even sensed potential difficulty in licensing archival footage from CBN (Pat Robertson) and from Fox. After approaching well over a hundred people, only two persons who had ever dealt with Mrs. Clinton would agree to an on-camera interview, and I suspected that even they would back out.
This, of course, was the real consequence, and probably the real intent, of the announcements by the RNC, Philippe Reines, and David Brock. Neither political party wanted the film made. After painful reflection, I decided that I couldn’t make a film of which I would be proud. And so I’m cancelling. (Not because of any pressure from CNN — quite the contrary.) It’s a victory for the Clintons, and for the money machines that both political parties have now become. But I don’t think that it’s a victory for the media, or for the American people. I still believe that Mrs. Clinton has many virtues including great intelligence, fortitude, and a deep commitment to bettering the lives of women and children worldwide. But this is not her finest hour.
republikanerne banner nbc og cnn for deres dokumentarer
UPDATED: “We’re done putting up with this nonsense. There are plenty of other outlets,” said RNC chairman Reince Preibus.
The Republican National Committee has voted to ban 2016 primary debates from CNN and NBC over the Hillary Clinton projects that are in the works at the two networks. The RNC’s vote came at the organization’s summer meeting in Boston.
OUR EDITOR RECOMMENDS
“There are forces out there that want to divide our party. But we’re not going to let them get in the way of our mission — whether they’re naysayers or news networks,” said RNC chairman Reince Priebus in prepared remarks at the Boston meeting. “That’s why we said to the media, with a united voice, that a network that spends millions to spotlight Hillary Clinton is a network with an obvious bias. And that’s a network that won’t be hosting a single Republican primary debate.”
The dustup between the RNC and the two networks began Aug. 5 when Priebus disclosed letters he had written to NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt and CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker. In them, he argued that a miniseries from NBC and a documentary from CNN would amount to free advertising for Clinton, a presumed 2016 presidential candidate. Priebus gave the networks until Aug. 14 to cancel the projects and said that failure to do so could result in them being frozen out of GOP debate coverage.
“We’re done putting up with this nonsense. There are plenty of other outlets. We’ll still reach voters, maybe more voters. But CNN and NBC anchors will just have to watch on their competitors’ networks,” read Priebus’ remarks on Friday.
In a statement, CNN criticized the RNC for acting in haste.
“CNN Films, a division of CNN Worldwide, commissioned a documentary about Hillary Clinton earlier this year,” reads the statement. “It is expected to premiere in 2014 with a theatrical run prior to airing on CNN. The CNN broadcast date has not been determined. This documentary will be a nonfiction look at the life of a former first lady and secretary of state. The project is in the very early stages of development, months from completion with most of the reporting and the interviewing still to be done. Therefore speculation about the final program is just that. We encouraged all interested parties to wait until the program premieres before judgments are made about it. Unfortunately, the RNC was not willing to do that.”
An RNC spokesman told Politico on Friday that the ban would include CNN Espanol, the Spanish-language channel of CNN, and also Telemundo, a Spanish-language channel owned by NBCUniversal.
For more than a week, Priebus has been drumming up support for his plan to blackball CNN and NBC with appearances on the Fox News Channel and elsewhere. The RNC also created an online petition demanding that the networks ditch their plans for Clinton programming, and it produced a video series called: “Will the Hillary Films Include …?”
The online petition reads, in part: “CNN and NBC have both announced programming promoting former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ahead of her likely presidential campaign in 2016. These are clearly major networks’ thinly veiled attempt at putting a thumb on the scales of the 2016 presidential election.”
On Friday, NBC’s Greenblatt said: “The Hillary Clinton movie has not been ordered to production, only a script is being written at this time. It is ‘in development,’ the first stage of any television series or movie, many of which never go to production. Speculation, demands and declarations pertaining to something that isn’t created or produced yet seem premature.”
Meanwhile, Democrats pounced on the resolution Friday and also disparaged rumored plans that the GOP was seeking high-profile members of the conservative media to moderate Republican primary debates.
“Instead of modifying their policies to actually present smart solutions for middle class families, the only thing the GOP can unite behind is a plan to continue to limit the audiences — and voters — to whom they will communicate,” read the Democratic National Committee statement. “Now with reports that they are looking to have Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Mark Levin moderate their debates, it raises questions about whether the RNC will ever be serious about outreach, or if they will continue to speak to — and for — the fringes of their party.”