The controversy surrounding Richard Jewell is heating up.
Warner Bros. has released a statement responding to the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s demand for a disclaimer saying the late journalist Kathy Scruggs (portrayed in the film by Olivia Wilde) did not sleep with an FBI source for information in real life.
“The film is based on a wide range of highly credible source material,” the studio’s statement, obtained by EW, says. “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 AJC’s claims are baseless and we will vigorously defend against them.”
Richard Jewell is based on the true story of how the titular security guard (played by Paul Walter Hauser) became the FBI’s prime suspect in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing, which resulted in his formerly quiet life getting upended. In the film, Scruggs is depicted attempting to trade sex with an FBI agent (played by Jon Hamm) for a tip that Jewell is the lead suspect in the case. This scene prompted AJC Editor-in-Chief Kevin Riley to speak out in defense of Scruggs, who died in 2001, and her legacy. The AJC even hired Hollywood attorney Martin D. Singer to send a letter to WB and director Clint Eastwood demanding that the filmmakers release a statement acknowledging that the portrayal of Scruggs in the film is not based on facts.
According to WB, the disclaimer currently at the end of the film says, “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.”
But other journalists are speaking out on social media against the depiction, real or dramatized, of a female journalist attempting to trade sex for information, especially since it did not happen in real life.
WB did not immediately respond to EW’s request for comment.