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With his Birth of a Nation hitting theaters Oct. 7, embattled writer-director-star Nate Parker is set to appear on CBS’ 60 Minutes, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter. Anderson Cooper is the correspondent, and the segment will air this Sunday.
Parker, whose film centers on the Nat Turner slave rebellion of 1831, has been under fire since the summer, when he spoke in several interviews about a 1999 trial in which he and Jean Celestin (who later co-wrote The Birth of a Nation) were accused of raping a classmate at Penn State. Parker, who maintained the sex was consensual, was acquitted, while Celestin was convicted. (Celestin’s case was overturned on appeal.)
After it was revealed this summer that the accuser committed suicide in 2012, Parker issued a lengthy statement saying, “I am filled with profound sorrow.” As questions about the film’s fate at both the box office and in the awards race continued, one of actresses in his film, Gabrielle Union, penned an op-ed sharing her thoughts about the controversy, rape and consent (Union herself is a rape survivor).
Fox Searchlight, which paid a record $17.5 million for the gritty drama at the Sundance Film Festival, has been treading carefully in the run-up to the release. Parker appeared with his cast for a premiere at the Toronto Film Festival and held a press conference at which he deflected questions about his past to focus on the film. But a screening and panel at the AFI were canceled and several media outlets (including THR) were not permitted to attend the film’s Los Angeles premiere last week.
The 60 Minutes segment is said to have been booked months ago, before the controversy erupted, but Cooper is sure to ask Parker about the resurfaced details of the case. The interview will be Parker’s first major television appearance on behalf of the film.
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