EXCLUSIVE: The Theory Of Everything writer-producer Anthony McCarten is in talks to adapt the Nick Davies bestseller Hack Attack for Sony Pictures, George Clooney and his Smoke House partner Grant Heslov. Clooney, the son of a journalist who helmed the high-water-mark-in-journalism Edward R. Murrow film Good Night, And Good Luck, plans to direct a film that looks at the seamy side of the craft.
The film focuses on the scandalous practice of how British tabloids routinely hacked into the phones of politicians, celebs, cops, hookers, royalty and terror attack victims to get scoops. The low point came when journos hacked the phone and deleted messages of missing 13-year-old schoolgirl Milly Dowler, who later was found murdered. The results were seismic: The 168-year-old tab News Of The World folded, and a government inquiry aired the unsavory business practices. It was a giant embarrassment to Rupert Murdoch as celebrities including Hugh Grant went public with how their privacy had been compromised for salacious tabloid stories.
The book by The Guardian reporter Davies was published August 12 and was bought by Sony in early September in a splashy sale.
Numerous parties competed for those book rights, including some who’d been victims of hacking. Finding a narrative is the key for this to be an All The President’s Men-type tale that Clooney envisions. McCarten is an intriguing writer to figure the movie out. He is basking in acclaim for The Theory Of Everything — the film’s Hollywood premiere was last night –after taking a decade to figure out how to turn the romance between Stephen Hawking and his first wife Jane, the young woman who fell in love with the physicist when he was an able-bodied college student. She refused to allow his genius to be silenced, even after his motor skills failed him and he was confined to a wheelchair, unable to speak or move much at all.
The James Marsh-directed Focus Features film is shaping up to be a strong contender in all categories of the Oscar race, including Best Adapted Screenplay by McCarten.
McCarten is repped by ICM Partners.