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“Rathergate,” the scandal that erupted in September of 2004 after Dan Rather reported that George W. Bush had received special treatment while serving in the Air National Guard during the Vietnam War, will be the subject of an upcoming film starring Robert Redford as Rather and Cate Blanchett as CBS News producer Mary Mapes.
Rather, whose reputation was tainted after it was revealed that CBS News was unable to authenticate some of the documents upon which his report was based, found out about the film deal just one day before the news broke, via a call from Mapes. The film is based on Mapes’ 2005 memoir Truth and Duty: The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power.
“I want to emphasize that I’m no expert in the movie business. What I know about the movie business could be written on the back of a postage stamp,” Rather tells THR. “But I at least know enough to recognize that having the Sundance Kid make a film about political and corporate interference of news can only help audiences understand why a truly independent press and strong investigative reporting are so important in a country such as ours.”
Rather first met Redford in the mid-1970s and last saw him about three years ago at Redford’s Sundance Film Festival.
“He has more faith in truth-telling than most people in Hollywood,” adds Rather. “In no small part because of that I’m of course pleased and honored that he’s agreed to take on the challenge of trying to make a film about political and corporate interference with truth-telling investigative journalism.”
Rather, for his part, has stood by his 60 Minutes report over the years. He states that the internal investigation (that led to the firing of Mapes) could never prove that the documents were forgeries.
“I’m cautiously optimistic,” says Rather of the film. “Although I have no illusions. Not everybody is going to like the idea that a film is being made. And not everybody is going to like the film, however it turns out.”
James Vanderbilt, the screenwriter behind The Amazing Spider-Man and White House Down, will adapt the screenplay, and make his directorial debut with the Mythology Entertainment project. Brad Fischer, William Sherak, Vanderbilt and Mikkel Bondesen are producing.
Rather says he’s open to meeting with Redford for the film, but he has yet to hear from the actor.
“I’d be happy to help him any way I can. I might make the price for that his bringing along Ms. Blanchett,” jokes Rather, who has never met the two-time Oscar winner. “I’ve admired her work for a long time. I thought Blue Jasmine was a new high for her, and that’s mighty high.”
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