EXCLUSIVE: Annapurna and Plan B have partnered to acquire the rights to give Spotlight-like treatment to the story of how New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey worked with editor Rebecca Corbett to break the biggest scandal story Hollywood has seen in decades, the one that took down Harvey Weinstein. The stories landed the reporters a Pulitzer earlier this month.
The bombshell first story ran last October 5, when Kantor and Twohey revealed an array of alleged sexual harassment and assaults against women by The Weinstein Company co-chairman and indie film mogul Weinstein that dated back decades. The article included details of hush money paid to cover up the sexual indiscretions and first-person accounts by actresses while Weinstein denied — and continues to deny — an charges of non-consensual sexual indiscretions, and the article hit Hollywood like a bombshell.
Weinstein was immediately fired by the TWC Board of Directors, and a once viable company atrophied and plunged into Chapter 11 bankruptcy, its fate to be decided early next month. Weinstein quickly became a pariah who is being investigated by law enforcement in New York, Los Angeles and the UK. And dozens of other men, ranging from directors to executives, comedians and actors, have taken tumbles as women felt emboldened to come forward to detail the indignities they were forced to endure from powerful men all over the industry.
The drums were already beating with the scandals involving Bill Cosby and Fox News titans Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, but the Weinstein story became a catalyst for the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. It has created serious effort involving the top men and women in show business not only to clean up deplorable behavior in the workplace, but to create hiring and advancement opportunities not only for women but also minorities and members of the LGBTQ community.
The thrust of the film isn’t Weinstein or his scandal. This is about an all-women team of journalists who persevered through threats of litigation and intimidation, to break a game-changing story, told in a procedural manner like Spotlight and All the President’s Men.
Kantor and Twohey just shared the Pulitzer Prize for their explosive reporting alongside Ronan Farrow, whose equally superb dispatches in The New Yorker began dropping days after that first NYT scoop. It was the most seismic journalism-driven Hollywood scandal since the days of David Begelman, and much of the intrigue involved the ways that Weinstein tried unsuccessfully to keep the stories from being published.
Plan B, the production partnership between Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, have made such topical films as Best Picture winners 12 Years a Slave and Moonlight, and the producer last year relocated its first-look deal from Paramount to Annapurna. Their first project together is the Adam McKay-directed film that has Christian Bale playing polarizing former Vice President Dick Cheney, and they are teamed on Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight follow-up If Beale Street Could Talk. Annapurna, in turn, regularly sparks to content with social relevance, from last year’s Detroit to Zero Dark Thirty. While Spotlight became a movie long after those Boston Globe reporters won the Pulitzer for exposing an institutional cover-up of pedophile priests within the Boston diocese of the Catholic Church, Plan B and Annapurna will be getting into the Weinstein saga in real time, much the way that Mark Boal and Kathryn Bigelow did on Annapurna’s Zero Dark Thirty.
The rights deal was put together by Anonymous Content, which recently signed the newspaper to broker movie and TV opportunities for its investigative journalism. AC repped both the paper and the journalists. After breaking the Pentagon Papers story and watching the Best Picture nominee The Post get made by Steven Spielberg with Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep about the Washington Post‘s role in being runner-up, the Grey Lady is wasting no time here in securing a top issue-oriented producer and studio to find the handle to tell its role in breaking the Weinstein story.