A Scorsese Documentary on Bill Clinton Is Stalled

23 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

A Scorsese Documentary on Bill Clinton Is Stalled.

Mr. Former President Bill Clinton has been fingered as the reason for the holdup of Martin Scorsese’s release of his years-in-the-making documentary on the famous first family.In what could be the third instance of a major film on either Bill or Hillary Clinton to be canceled, Martin Scorsese’s long-aborning project for HBO is also now imperiled.An unnamed source told the paper that Clinton wanted to approve the questions he would be asked in the film, and allegedly demanded final cut privilege.

The movie, which was once slated for likely release in the time frame of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s probable presidential run, is partially finished, The New York Timesreported. Scoresese’s partly finished documentary on Clinton has come to a halt due to disagreements about control and final cut, according to people briefed on the project. The Academy Award-winning film director spent the past two years filming Clinton, including his charitable trip to Africa, but the HBO project was reportedly shelved when Clinton insisted on approving the interview questions and wanted control of the final cut of the film.

Matt McKenna, a spokesman for Clinton, called the claims “inaccurate” without providing further detail while Scoresese’s spokesman declined to comment. An HBO rep told THR, “It’s not happening soon, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen.” The documentary was described as looking at Clinton’s Clinton’s perspectives on history, politics, culture and the world.

According to Times sources, Clinton sought to omit questions that could potentially damage his wife Hillary Clinton’s reputation as the 2016 presidential election nears and questions of her candidacy loom. There’s nothing untoward about a friend doing a film on a friend, or at least bankrolling it — in fact, it’s not uncommon at all — but it is an added level of complexity, particularly when a powerful director like Scorsese is involved and certainly calls into question a potential film’s objectivity. “President Clinton is one of the most compelling figures of our time, whose world view and perspective, combined with his uncommon intelligence, make him a singular voice on the world stage,” said (Richard) Plepler and (Michael) Lombardo, CEO and chief of programming, respectively. “This documentary, under Marty’s gifted direction, creates a unique opportunity for the President to reflect on myriad issues that have consumed his attention and passion throughout both his Presidency and post-Presidency.” “A towering figure who remains a major voice in world issues, President Clinton continues to shape the political dialogue both here and around the world,” observed Scorsese. “Through intimate conversations, I hope to provide greater insight into this transcendent figure.” “I am pleased that legendary director Martin Scorsese and HBO have agreed to do this film,” said President Clinton. “I look forward to sharing my perspective on my years as President, and my work in the years since, with HBO’s audience.” The other two films scrapped were more Hillary-specific — a CNN film on her career and an NBC miniseries on her.

Scorsese proved able to overcome the complications inherent in an attempt to build entertainment — however informative a documentary might be — around a figure whose wife stands on the verge of another presidential campaign. Chelsea Clinton, who left her lucrative NBC News job in August and works closely with her father, was expected to figure in the documentary in some way, and some in the Clinton circle had speculated that she would be credited as a producer. Clinton also proved to be a liability during the 2008 Democratic presidential primary when he made comments about then-Senator Barack Obama that many interpreted as racially insensitive. While “Clinton the Musical,” a stage satire focused on Clinton administration scandals, is now set for an Off Broadway run beginning in March, other Clinton-themed entertainment projects have faltered. Clinton in the face of pushback from Clinton aides and the Republican National Committee; NBC dropped a planned mini-series in which Diane Lane would have portrayed her.

Also, “Rodham,” a planned feature film about the romance between a young Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham, has been struggling through Hollywood’s development process since Lionsgate acquired rights to it in 2013. On the flip side, some political adversaries suspect the film will become a promotional tool, while others welcome it as a complicating factor in any Clinton campaign. Over all, the crackle of media attention and conflicting opinion have made the development process more difficult than usual, one person briefed on it said.

Already, two people said, at least one Hollywood actors’ agent sympathetic to the Clintons has communicated concerns about the possible impact of “Rodham.” Queries to Lionsgate, to Mr. Ponsoldt’s agents at the United Talent Agency and to producers at Temple Hill Entertainment and the Arlook Group, which are producing the movie, drew no response. Scorsese had earlier worked with HBO on documentaries about George Harrison and Fran Lebowitz, and he was an executive producer of the cable channel’s drama “Boardwalk Empire,” which recently ended its run.

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