Patricia Hearst, the heiress whose kidnapping became one of the most storied crimes of the 1970s, has issued a lengthy statement harshly denouncing upcoming film and TV projects based on her ordeal, and says she was inspired to do so by the MeToo movement and the Time’s Up presence at the Golden Globe Awards ceremony.
She had especially strong words for author Jeffrey Toobin, whose unauthorized biography American Heiress is being turned into the feature film and who is an executive producer of the CNN docuseries The Radical Story of Patty Hearst.
“I am further saddened and appalled that Fox 2000 agreed to finance and produce a movie based on Toobin’s book (with a similarly themed screenplay, also written by men) and that CNN has agreed to continue to perpetuate a one-sided dialogue romanticizing my torture and rape by hosting a podcast and docuseries through Toobin’s distorted lens,” said Hearst in a statement released by her daughter Lydia Hearst’s spokesperson.
The untitled James Mangold-directed film, based on Toobin’s book, is set to star Elle Fanning and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II.
The CNN original series, The Radical Story of Patty Hearst, is set to debut Sunday, Feb. 11 with two back-to-back episodes at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. ET/PT. According to CNN, the six-part docuseries “follows the transformation of Patty Hearst from heiress to terrorist in a saga of privilege, celebrity, politics, media, revolution, and violence. Over 40 years later, newly discovered evidence, archival footage, cinematic recreations and exclusive firsthand accounts shed light on one of the biggest and most bizarre stories in modern American history.”
The docuseries, CNN has said, includes unprecedented access to key figures in the story including Bill Harris, the man that abducted Hearst from her apartment in 1974 and Steven Weed, the fiancé who witnessed it all: “The series weaves through her upbringing, kidnapping, transformation into a terrorist, subsequent arrest and trial, and her transition back into American royalty.”
Toobin (The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story) serves as one of the series’ executive producers. Full title of his 2016 book on Hearst: American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst.
In addition to the series, CNN is planning a weekly podcast, “Patty Has a Gun: The Life and Crimes of Patricia Hearst,” co-hosted by Toobin and CNN’s Brian Stelter, available beginning Friday, Jan. 26 on iTunes.
The Radical Story of Patty Hearst is produced by Bat Bridge Entertainment with executive producers Toobin, Pat Kondelis, Jody Wingrove, Marla Quintana, Julio Quintana, Amy Entelis and Lizzie Fox. The hour-long series is set to air over three consecutive weeks with two back-to-back episodes airing Sundays at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. ET/PT on CNN.
Here is Hearst’s statement in full:
This past weekend at the Golden Globes so many strong women put together an incredibly moving testimony to the fact that times are changing. I’m so grateful for people like Reese Witherspoon, America Ferrera, and Eva Longoria who have taken a stand for women everywhere. When Oprah gave her acceptance speech it moved so many of us…she said, “[Recy] lived as we all have lived, too many years in a culture broken by brutally powerful men. For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men, but their time is up.” That hit home for me more than you can imagine. It’s no secret that I was abducted, raped, and tortured at 19. What followed was a series of events that were the direct result of a child having been destroyed both inside and out.
Over the years I have been approached many times to discuss my ordeal, and I have answered many questions. I have spoken the truth about my experience and even wrote a 499-page book where I lay it all out, as painful as it was to relive. Each time I do, it puts me back in the nightmare which, as you might imagine, is deeply painful. This is why for the last several years, I have declined to answer any more questions. It’s very hard on me, and not something I want my daughters to be reminded of. When approached by Jeffrey Toobin in what could only be construed as an incredibly arrogant and egotistical fashion, he stated in an email that I should talk to him, saying, “you’ve written your own book and given many interviews”, yet he continued with, “It would be in your best interest to talk to me. I’m a high profile writer. This book will get a lot of attention. It will be seen as the last word on the subject.” It was offensive to me that a man would have the audacity to tell a woman that he would have the last word on her trauma. Naturally, I declined his request.
Jeffery Toobin’s unauthorized book, American Heiress, which cites one of my kidnappers as its main source, romanticizes my rape and torture and calls my abduction a “rollicking adventure.” This project is attempting to rewrite history and directly flies in the face of the present #MeToo movement where so much progress is being made in regard to listening, and providing a voice, to those who have suffered abuse. I am further saddened and appalled that Fox 2000 agreed to finance and produce a movie based on Toobin’s book (with a similarly themed screenplay, also written by men) and that CNN has agreed to continue to perpetuate a one-sided dialogue romanticizing my torture and rape by hosting a podcast and docuseries through Toobin’s distorted lens. I refuse to give Jeffrey Toobin, 21st Century Fox, CNN or anyone else involved in these projects about my life the power to make me a victim again, or the power to provide a platform where victim blaming is ok.
As hard as it was to do, I have grown well past the 19-year old me and gone on to become a proud wife, mother, and grandmother. I have no interest in revisiting such a violent and hurtful time in my life. Aren’t we living in a better world than this? I sincerely hope the answer is a resounding “Yes.” I am joyful and inspired by all of the women who have been brave enough to come forward with their truths. I stand with you, I support you, and I applaud you. #ListenToWomen #TIMESUP #MeToo
– Patricia Hearst
Neither CNN nor Fox 2000 had immediate comment.