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What to do when your film’s real-life protagonist becomes embroiled in scandal? Megyn Kelly’s sudden departure from NBC News draws attention to two projects in the works at Showtime and Lionsgate.
At Showtime, an eight-episode limited series from producer Jason Blum, based on Gabriel Sherman’s book The Loudest Voice in the Room, includes a script in which Megyn Kelly is said to appear in a few scenes. However, a Kelly character has not been cast yet (Naomi Watts will play Gretchen Carlson and Russell Crowe will portray Ailes). THR initially reported that Kelly had been omitted from the series based on a Showtime rep who said that Kelly will not be featured. The rep later clarified that Kelly could still appear.
“Megyn Kelly has always been a minor character in our limited series — mentioned or appearing in a handful of scenes over the course of the eight episodes,” the Showtime rep said in a statement after this story was initially published. “The role has yet to be cast. No changes have been made to this role since the project was first announced.”
Sherman, who co-wrote the first episode with Spotlight writer Tom McCarthy, said, “Megyn Kelly was a peripheral participant in Ailes’s downfall. As I reported at the time, it was Gretchen Carlson and her lawyer Nancy Erika Smith that drove the events that led to Ailes’s ouster. Kelly’s decision to meet with Paul Weiss lawyers was important — she was Fox’s biggest star at the time — but by the time she spoke to investigators Ailes’s fate had been sealed. Any dramatization that makes her a central character in Ailes’s takedown is pure fiction.”
Meanwhile, Jay Roach’s untitled film about the Fox News women who brought down Roger Ailes with their claims of sexual harassment includes Charlize Theron portraying Kelly in a central role.
Though the filmmakers have been calling the film an ensemble piece, Theron is top-billed and also a producer. Production began in Los Angeles on Oct. 22, three days before NBC canceled Megyn Kelly Today after Kelly’s comments about blackface, leaving the filmmakers in an awkward position — move forward with a tarnished heroine or delay production by refashioning Theron’s Kelly and tweaking Charles Randolph’s script into a roman a clef.
The movie already overcame one challenge earlier this month after it was dropped by Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures, leaving the filmmakers scrambling to find a new distributor. On Oct. 9, Lionsgate stepped in to release the film, which also stars Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie and John Lithgow (though a source said the deal is not officially closed yet but is very near the finish line).
Oct. 30, 9:35 pm. Updated headline and story throughout. A Showtime representative stated that the Kelly character has yet to be cast and may appear in the limited series in a minor role.
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