Robert Redford and Cate Blanchett are in talks to play Don Rather and Mary Mapes in an upcoming, although currently unfinanced, film focussing on the 'Rathergate' scandal. James Vanderbilt, screenwriter of The Amazing Spiderman, is set to make his directional debut with the political thriller.
It's only been ten years since Don Rather reported on a CBS news programme about the Killian documents, which supposedly showed how former President George W. Bush managed to avoid serving his National Service in Vietnam. A film on the subject, and Rather's subsequent departure from the network, is in the works and Robert Redford is currently in talks with producers to play Rather. Cate Blanchett is also thought to be in negotiations to play Mary Mapes, Rather's producer, as Deadline reports.
Robert Redford is in talks to play Dan Rather in an upcoming film.
Mapes was fired after the incident and wrote a book, entitled Truth and Duty: The Press, the President and the Privilege of Power, which will form the basis of the screenplay. James Vanderbilt, the screenwriter best known for penning The Amazing Spiderman, will make his directional debut with the film currently referred to as 'Rathergate'.
The Killian documents supposedly showed how Bush's father, then ambassador and future president George Bush Senior, made a series of calls requesting his son was placed at the top of lists for the Texas Air National Guard. Thus ensuring his son would remain in the US, and mostly importantly away from Vietnam, when he graduated from Yale University in 1968. The documents were leaked by Bush's commanding officer, Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, and the controversy bore his name.
Cate Blanchett could play Mary Mapes.
However, after Mapes and Rather decided to air the report on the news show 60 Minutes Wednesday and posted copies of the documents online, their provenance was called into question. Audiences and media outlets, including CBS after initially defending their news team, claimed the papers were forgeries. The debate is still ongoing and the negative effect of the news cycle on Bush's 2004 re-election campaign cannot be denied.
The film will presumably deal with the question of whether Rather and Mapes were aware of the provenance of the documents and how the network dealt with the accusations. As they were eventually forced out, Mapes resigning in 2004 and Rather the year after, many have accused CBS of scapegoating, including Rather when he filed a lawsuit against the network in 2007. As the film is intended to be a political thriller, it will be interesting to see what side of the Killian documents debate the film makers choose to fall on.
Both Blanchett and Redford are not afraid to tackle political and controversial roles. Redford starred as journalist Bob Woodward in the 1976 film All the President's Men, based on the book of the same name by Woodward and Carl Bernstein, which follows the two reporters investigating the Watergate scandal. Blanchett starred in 2003 as journalist Veronica Guerin, in a film of the same name, whose investigations into the Dublin drug trade led to her murder in 1996.
The debate still wages over whether George W Bush avoided serving in Vietnam.