Daily Beast Reporter Involved in Altercation on Set of Pro-Life Film 'Roe v. Wade'
Will Sommer, the journalist, describes the incident as an "assault" by a crewmember. Producer Nick Loeb shares an audio snippet of the scuffle.
A reporter getting an up-close look at Nick Loeb shooting his pro-life movie Roe v. Wade was involved in a scuffle on Thursday at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. where a crewmember allegedly grabbed the journalist's notepad.
"Hey, you gotta give me my notes back asshole," Daily Beast reporter Will Sommer says in a snippet of audio recorded during the altercation.
"Stop following me," says the unnamed crewmember.
The film's producer and co-director Nick Loeb, speaking with The Hollywood Reporter about the incident, claims that the two men caused such a stir that U.S. Park Police officers had to intervene. (Sommer says he called police to get involved.) Audio of the scuffle is embedded below.
"He snuck onto the set. Ran on, actually," alleges Loeb. "He started writing down the dialogue our actors were speaking. One of our volunteer interns took a sheet of paper the reporter was writing on and told him he wasn't allowed to use our copyrighted material."
Sommer replied in an email to THR that, "I was seated on the steps with other members of the public for several minutes before this incident. I had identified myself as a member of the press to multiple members of the crew and one of the actors, had my notebook out, and at no point was told to leave."
The journalist added: "The intern grabbed my entire notebook without saying anything, walked away quickly, and refused to wait for the police. When I walked over to him and urged him to wait for the police while we sorted out the issue, he continued to walk away, so I walked with him while I called police. At one point he ripped a number of the pages out, crumpled them up, and tried to hide them in his clothes or bag."
Sommer wrote about the incident in a first-person story on the news website with a headline of, "Roe v. Wade Movie Crew Member Assaulted Reporter."
Producer Loeb says actors Wade Williams and Corbin Bernsen, each of whom play a Supreme Court justice in the movie about the landmark case guaranteeing a woman's right to abortion, witnessed the debacle. "The reporter was right there, copying down my lines," Williams said.
To calm things down, Loeb says the reporter was given the opportunity to interview Bernsen. "He wouldn't leave us alone, so Corbin did us a favor. Corbin was like, 'Hey, I'm in the middle. I'm pro-choice,'" Loeb says.
Sgt. James Dingeldein of the Park Police said two officers responded to the incident, a K9 unit assigned to the film and a beat cop assigned to the area.
"It was not a physical fight but a verbal altercation," Dingeldein said. "An officer separated them and at some point the notebook was returned. They continued to argue back and forth down by the Reflecting Pool. Neither party requested a written report."
Cathy Allyn, who is co-directing and co-producing with Loeb, said she stood near Sommer and had no idea he was a reporter.
"He just charged on set and started tailing Wade Williams and jotting down all of his lines. He made a scene in the middle of a take, screaming obscenities," she said.
Roe v. Wade has been a lightning rod of drama since it began shooting in secrecy on June 15 and actors, crewmembers, even a director, walked off once they found out the film had a pro-life bent to it (more about the film's synopsis).
The film, with financing from investors Loeb will not name, is expected to wrap shooting within four days, and he is negotiating a distribution deal, he said Thursday.
Updated 2:25 p.m. July 12: Added statements from Sgt. James Dingeldein and Cathy Allyn.