Back in mid-October, CBS turned down a multi-million dollar ad buy from Sony Classics to run spots for their Rathergate film Truth, which follows the 60 Minutes II blowout over the story on President George W. Bush’s military service. At today’s Deadline Contenders awards season event, the film’s director says he wasn’t exactly surprised by the network’s reaction.
Truth director James Vanderbilt spoke about the imbroglio today, a month after the fightin’ words by CBS spokesman Gil Schwartz, who was the key spokesman during the 2004 scandal (and a character in the movie). Schwartz told the AP, “It’s astounding how little truth there is in Truth. There are, in fact, too many distortions, evasions and baseless conspiracy theories to enumerate them all. The film tries to turn gross errors of journalism and judgment into acts of heroism and martyrdom.”
At today’s Contenders event, Vanderbilt addressed the ad boycott which included the network’s refusal to run Truth spots on Late Show With Stephen Colbert, the CBS Evening News, CBS This Morning and 60 Minutes. Said the director, “That was an interesting reaction. Nobody thought they would go ‘First of all, thank you for bringing this up again.’ I understand it. We always knew that there wasn’t any version of this film that would make everybody happy. But that’s not the reason to not make the movie.”
Despite CBS’ refusal to air Truth ads, the film’s actress Cate Blanchett (who portrays 60 Minutes producer Mary Mapes) was a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Colbert quipped during the show’s intro on October 8, “She stars as a CBS employee who gets fired and we might talk about something else instead.”
But as the old saying goes, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. And as Truth competes in a crowded awards atmosphere, particularly against another journalism pic Spotlight, controversy is nothing less than bliss.