'Lincoln' Scores Second '60 Minutes' Piece as 'Zero Dark Thirty' Is Rejected
CBS News' Bill Owens says the show was "pitched hard," but selling the Osama bin Laden manhunt as breaking news didn't fly: "It's not a documentary; it's a movie."
This story first appeared in the Jan. 25 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
In a high-stakes Oscar campaign, there is one media platform strategists crave above all others: 60 Minutes.
The CBS weekly newsmagazine regularly attracts more than 13 million viewers and confers an imprimatur of quality and intellectual heft because it devotes few segments to Hollywood. So far this season, 60 Minutes has aired profiles of Lincoln director Steven Spielberg (on his relationship with his parents), Les Miserables star Hugh Jackman (correspondent Scott Pelley is said to be a big Broadway fan), This Is 40 filmmaker Judd Apatow and a feature on the 50th anniversary of James Bond anchored by Anderson Cooper.
Now 60 Minutes executive producer and CBS News chairman Jeff Fager tells THR the show is working on another piece about Lincoln that is likely to air Feb. 10 or 17 (before Oscar voting ends Feb. 19) and will feature Spielberg, Daniel Day-Lewis and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, who wrote the book on which the film is partly based.
One movie 60 Minutes will not be featuring is Zero Dark Thirty. The show was "pitched hard," says executive editor Bill Owens, but the newsmagazine profiled director Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker in 2009, and the pic's representatives were selling Zero Dark Thirty almost as a documentary, touting the filmmakers' CIA access (which has led to a Senate investigation).
For a show that prides itself on breaking its own news, that was something of a tone-deaf pitch. "Why would we do that?" asks Owens. "It's not a documentary; it's a movie. We'd go out and find our own Jessica Chastain character."