Fox Cancels James Mangold's Patty Hearst Biopic

The move comes after Hearst criticized author Jeffrey Toobin, whose book was to be the basis for the film.
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Patty Hearst

Twentieth Century Fox is not moving ahead with its Patty Hearst biopic, which was to have been directed by James Mangold.

“Twentieth Century Fox Film and its production partners have decided to cancel the studio’s planned project based on the book American Heiress,” the studio said Thursday in a statement.

The move comes after Hearst blasted Jeffrey Toobin, the author of American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst, which was serving as the basis for the biopic. Toobin’s work also is behind the upcoming CNN documentary The Radical Story of Patty Hearst, which is set to air starting Feb. 11. CNN has not yet determined a response to Hearst's statement.

Hearst was the heiress to the Hearst newspaper empire but gained international attention in 1974 when, at the age of 19, she was kidnapped by the left-wing group Symbionese Liberation Army. She was retrieved 19 months after she was abducted, but by this time, she appeared to have joined the group and was committing crimes with them. Hearst, however, maintained that she was acting under the threat of death and had been brainwashed. Her sensational trial ended with her being convicted for armed robbery and serving 22 months in jail.

In a statement, Hearst attacked both CNN and Fox, saying she was inspired by Oprah Winfrey’s speech at the Golden Globes and taking a stand with the #MeToo movement.

The book “romanticizes my rape and torture and calls my abduction a 'rollicking adventure,'” she said. 

Hearst said she was “saddened and appalled that Fox 2000 agreed to finance and produce a movie based on Toobin’s book (with a similarly themed screenplay, also written by men) and that CNN has agreed to continue to perpetuate a one-sided dialogue romanticizing my torture and rape by hosting a podcast and docuseries through Toobin’s distorted lens. I refuse to give Jeffrey Toobin, 21st Century Fox, CNN or anyone else involved in these projects about my life the power to make me a victim again, or the power to provide a platform where victim blaming is OK.”

Mangold was coming off the success of last year's Logan when he signed on to direct the biopic. Elle Fanning was on board to portray Hearst, and the project was heading toward a spring start.