George Clooney to Direct Phone-Hacking Scandal Movie for Sony

12:00 PM PST 09/03/2014 by Rebecca Ford
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George Clooney

'Hack Attack' explores the Rupert Murdoch media scandal

George Clooney has made the call on his next directing project. The actor-producer-director will helm an adaptation of the book Hack Attack, exploring the British phone-hacking scandal surrounding Rupert Murdoch's news empire.

Clooney and Grant Heslov will produce through their Smokehouse banner for Sony. Shooting is scheduled to start next year.

The film is based on journalist Nick Davies' book Hack Attack: The Inside Story of How the Truth Caught Up With Rupert Murdoch, which hit shelves in July. Davies spent six years investigating Murdoch's News Corp. and its subsidiary, News International. His book exposes the company's habit of hacking into the voicemail messages of elected officials, celebrities and even ordinary British citizens.

The 2011 scandal led to the shuttering of News of the World after 168 years of publication and spurred a government inquiry that would bring to light shocking business practices. The publication's former executive editor Neil Wallis and former editor Rebekah Brooks were both arrested, along with more than 10 others, in relation to the hacking accusations.

Michael De Luca, president of production for Columbia Pictures, will oversee the project for Sony.

"This has all the elements — lying, corruption, blackmail — at the highest levels of government by the biggest newspaper in London," said Clooney in a statement. "And the fact that it's true is the best part. Nick is a brave and stubborn reporter and we consider it an honor to put his book to film."

Clooney gravitates toward directing projects inspired by historical events that often mix politics and journalism, with his most recent being 2014's The Monuments Men. He previously directed the political drama The Ides of March and the Edward R. Murrow drama Good Night, and Good Luck. As an actor, he'll next be seen in Tomorrowland and will appear in the Coen brothers' next project, Hail, Caesar! He's repped by CAA and Lichter Grossman.

"As the son of a journalist, George has a sharp interest in the role journalism plays in all of our lives — whether that's for good, as in Good Night, and Good Luck, or for bad," said De Luca in a statement. "With Hack Attack, George will explore the dark side of that world, a business where all of the rules of journalism are broken in the race for an easy and ever-larger payday."

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