George Clooney, Sony Dial Into Rupert Murdoch’s British Tabloid Phone-Hacking Scandal

BREAKING: The son of a journalist, George Clooney chronicled a high-water mark for the craft, when Edward R. Murrow stood up to Red-baiting Senator Joseph McCarthy in Good Night, And Good Luck. Clooney will next direct a film covering the opposite end of the spectrum. He’ll helm for Sony Pictures an adaptation of the Nick Davies book Hack Attack, a dissection of the British phone-hacking scandal that became a commonplace news gathering technique within Rupert Murdoch’s news empire. Clooney and his Smokehouse partner Grant Heslov will produce.

Hack AttackOver six years, Davies investigated News Corp and its subsidiary, News International, in a book that showed how they gained an advantage over their tabloid rivals by hacking into the voicemail messages of elected officials, celebrities, and even ordinary British citizens and the victims of terror attacks. When it was finally uncovered — the low point came when journos hacked the phone and deleted messages in 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 and was a giant embarrassment to Murdoch as celebrities including Hugh Grant went public with how their privacy had been compromised for salacious tabloid stories. The book was published August 12.

“This has all the elements — lying, corruption, blackmail — at the highest levels of government by the biggest newspaper in London,” Clooney said in a statement. “And the fact that it’s true is the best part. Nick is a brave and stubborn reporter and we consider it an honor to put his book to film.” The film will start production next year.

rupSaid Sony production president Michael De Luca: “As the son of a journalist, George has a sharp interest in the role journalism plays in all of our lives — whether that’s for good, as in Good Night, And Good Luck, or for bad. With Hack Attack, George will explore the dark side of that world, a business where all of the rules of journalism are broken in the race for an easy and ever-larger payday.” De Luca will oversee it.

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