So much for one of the three “Hillary” film projects destined for American audiences.
CNN has canceled plans to air an ambitious documentary about Hillary Rodham Clinton that would have aired in the timely 2014-2015 window just as the presidential race ignites. Charles Ferguson, the Oscar-winning filmmaker behind the project, has backed out following his encounters with Mrs. Clinton’s associates.
Mr. Ferguson reported Monday that once he signed the contract with the network, he had been “interrogated” by Clinton press secretary Nick Merrill, even as media strategist Phillipe Reines took his concerns about the documentary’s “conflicts of interest” to Politico, which published them. Liberal media analyst David Brock also joined in, suggesting the documentary “would revive old, discredited Clinton scandal stories.” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus also followed with threats to bar CNN from future Republican debates if the project were completed.
CNN originally promised that the Clinton documentary would be “a comprehensive look at the professional and personal life of one of the most powerful women in American politics,” with a theatrical run before airing on the news network. Mr. Ferguson, however, was discovering how carefully the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state was proceeding in a possible White House run, carefully controlling her brand and her treasure chest.
“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,” Mr. Ferguson wrote in his own account published Monday in The Huffington Post.
“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,” the filmmaker said, declaring, “Neither political party wanted the film made.”
Mr. Ferguson, who won a 2011 Academy Award for “Inside Job,” his documentary on the 2008 economic meltdown, concluded: “So I’m canceling. 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.”
CNN simply accepted his decision and has moved on. The network’s new film division already has aired documentaries on Richard M. Nixon and the American flag that once flew over ground zero in New York, and has more projects in the planning.
“While CNN is not moving forward with its Hillary Clinton infomercial, it’s clearly not of their choosing but rather because the filmmaker quit in large part because of the RNC’s actions,” RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said.
There are still two more “Hillary” projects in production, though.
NBC has cast Diane Lane to play Mrs. Clinton in a dramatized miniseries based on the life and times of the former first lady.
Also underway is “Rodham,” a feature-length independent film showcasing a young Hillary Rodham before she met a certain young man from Arkansas. Advance peeks at the working script revealed there are some lovey-dovey moments between a 26-year-old Miss Rodham and 27-year-old Bill Clinton.
Screenwriter Young-il Kim has downplayed the media obsession with romance, however. “I didn’t write ‘50 Shades of Rodham,’” he told Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper earlier this year.