Clint Eastwood's new film Richard Jewell tells the true story about a bombing at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and the titular character who was falsely accused of carrying out the attack. He was named a suspect by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the subject of a media firestorm for months until he was finally cleared.
In the film, Olivia Wilde plays Kathy Scruggs, a female reporter who was credited with doing most of the reporting on the bombing at the time. Wilde's character in the film, however, is seen using sex to obtain information. The real Scruggs died in 2001, so she isn't alive to speak on the film. But the AJC calls Warner Bros. depiction of Scruggs insulting and sent a letter to Eastwood and the studio.
“We hereby demand that you immediately issue a statement publicly acknowledging that some events were imagined for dramatic purposes and artistic license and dramatization were used in the film’s portrayal of events and characters,” the letter reads, obtained by Variety. “We further demand that you add a prominent disclaimer to the film to that effect.”
Some of Scruggs' colleagues were appalled by her depiction in the film. “I think this letter makes it clear how seriously we take the misrepresentation of our reporters’ actions and of the actions of the newspaper during that time,” Kevin G. Riley, editor of the Journal-Constitution, told Variety. “We have been clear about how disturbed we are in the film’s use of a Hollywood trope about reporters and how it misrepresents how seriously journalists concern themselves with reporting accurately and ethically.”
Wilde, however, wondered why Jon Hamm's character, an FBI agent Scruggs' Wilde was suggested to have slept with, wasn't faced with the same level of scrunity that her character was.
“She was incredibly successful as a cop reporter. She had a very close relationship with the cops and the FBI helping to tell their story, and yes, by all accounts she had relationships with different people in that field,” the actress told Deadline. “But what I resented was this character being boiled down to one inferred scene and I don’t hear anyone complaining about Jon Hamm’s character as being inferred that he also had a relationship with a reporter. It feels unfair that Kathy has been minimized in this way."
Richard Jewell is set to hit theaters on Dec. 13.