The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has demanded that Warner Bros. and the producers of Clint Eastwood’s “Richard Jewell” publicly admit that some events in the film “were imagined for artistic purposes and artistic license.”
The controversy centers around the film’s depiction of journalist Kathy Scruggs sleeping with an FBI agent to get information about Jewell. Scruggs was the reporter who broke the story that Jewell, who had helped evacuate the site of the Centennial Olympic Park bombing during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, was subsequently placed under investigation by the FBI before being exonerated.
In a letter released by Hollywood attorney Martin Singer, who is representing the Cox Enterprises-owned newspaper, he says that in addition to inaccurately characterizing Scruggs’ behavior, the film also misrepresents the role that the AJC played in exonerating Jewell.
AJC editor Kevin G. Riley told Variety that reporters who worked with Scruggs were disturbed by the film’s depiction of her behavior. “The film literally makes things up and adds to misunderstandings about how serious news organizations work,” he said.
Ron Martz, who shared a byline with Scruggs on the story that broke the news about Jewell being a suspect, says that no one linked with the film ever got in touch with him.
In addition to asking the producers of the film to issue a statement acknowledging that some of the depicted events were imagined, the AJC also wants a “prominent disclaimer” attached to the film itself.
“Richard Jewell” opens in theaters Dec. 13.