Warner Bros pledges to defend ‘Richard Jewell’ over newspaper claims

Screen | 12/9/2019 | Jeremy Kay
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The furore over Richard Jewell has escalated in the run-up to the North American release of Clint Eastwood’s latest drama on Friday (13), as Warner Bros pledged to defend the film following a legal demand by an Atlanta newspaper that the studio issue a statement over the use of dramatic licence and run a disclaimer.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) disputes facts in the film and has taken umbrage over the depiction of its reporting on the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing. Of particular concern to the publication is a suggestion in the film that the deceased crime reporter Kathy Scruggs, played by Olivia Wilde, used sex to get a scoop that heroic security guard Jewell had become a suspect in the fatal bombing.

Letter - Behalf - AJC - Warner - Bros

A letter sent on behalf of AJC to Warner Bros, Eastwood and others on Monday (9) read, “It is highly ironic that a film purporting to tell a tragic story of how the reputation of an FBI suspect was grievously tarnished appears bent on a path to severely tarnish the reputation of the AJC, a newspaper with a respected 150-year-old publishing legacy.”

The AJC argued that Richard Jewell “falsely portrays the AJC and its personnel as extraordinarily reckless, using unprofessional and highly inappropriate reporting methods, and engaging in constitutional malice by recklessly disregarding information inconsistent with its planned reporting.

Height - Irony - Film - Creation - Dissemination

“This, too, is the height of irony since all those involved in the film’s creation and dissemination and its false portrayal of the AJC are the ones who have acted recklessly and are engaging in constitutional malice.”

The legal demand makes clear that a defamation lawsuit could be in the offing should Warner Bros not comply with its request, and that given the film’s international distribution plan, papers could also be filed in the UK, Australia and France, among others.

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