Just as a major studio film based on Sen. Ted Kennedy’s murder of Mary Jo Kopechne is set to hit theaters, various other Hollywood projects based on Democrat scandals have been canceled, according to a series of reports.
In one case, executive producer Ryan Murphy said he will not proceed with his announced plan to debut a fourth season of American Crime Story based on the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky sex scandal.
Murphy reversed his decision to feature the Clinton scandal — he had already optioned author and CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Tobin’s 2000 book A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President, to use as source material — scoffing about the storyline and saying that only Lewinsky should tell her own story.
“I told her, ‘Nobody should tell your story but you, and it’s kind of gross if they do,'” Murphy told the Hollywood Reporter. “‘If you want to produce it with me, I would love that; but you should be the producer, and you should make all the goddamn money.'”
Elsewhere, the History Channel announced that it has dumped plans to produce a six-episode series exploring the Clinton’s impeachment.
The History Channel series, named The Breach: Inside the Impeachment of Bill Clinton, was meant to be a full examination of Bill Clinton’s relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky and the days leading to Clinton’s impeachment in the House of Representatives in 1998. The series was to be based on Peter Baker’s best-selling non-fiction book, The Breach: Inside the Impeachment and Trial of William Jefferson Clinton.
Meanwhile, various studios are moving ahead with anti-President Donald Trump projects, some of which have already appeared before viewers.
Netflix recently picked up the British-made documentary, Trump: An American Dream in which Trump is accused of working with the Mafia while building his real estate empire. That is only the first Netflix treatment of Trump. The outlet’s The Confidence Man, an episode of the documentary series entitled, Dirty Money, also treated viewers to a purported exposé of Trump’s business career.
To be sure, there are many more anti-Trump screen projects in the works.
CBS Films announced this week that it has purchased the rights to Michael Isikoff and David Corn’s “Russian Roulette,” the story of the Russian attempt to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.
Hollywood’s reticence to foot projects based on Democrat scandals finds no parallels for fare about the Republican party. For decades, Hollywood has produced films and TV projects ridiculing such Republican figures as Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush.
In 2006, for instance, a movie entitled Death of a President debuted depicting the assassination of George W. Bush. The film was widely celebrated by liberals.
For his part, President Ronald Regan has been the object of onscreen ridicule for decades. Indeed, just this year the Tom Cruise vehicle American Made fabricated history to implicate President Reagan and retry the Iran Contra scandal as it told the story of a CIA operative who flew drugs into the country supposedly on government-approved missions.
In 2016 it was announced that a film would be produced to make fun of Reagan during his last two years in the White House as he began to suffer symptoms of the Alzheimer’s disease that finally took his life in 2004. The film was supposed to be a “comedy” depicting a president who had no idea where he was as he closed out his presidency. Actor Will Ferrell was said to be looking at taking the lead role, but the actor soon quit the production after a backlash ensued.
Richard Nixon has been a target of liberal filmmakers for years. There was the 1999 film Dick, a comedy set during the Watergate Scandal, Oliver Stone’s 1995 screed Tricky Dicky, and many, many others too numerous to mention. Nixon is inevitably portrayed as an American monster, torn by his insecurities and unmindful of what is good for the country.
Late night TV comedy show Saturday Night Live is a perfect microcosm of how the media has long-lambasted Republican presidents.
Ultimately, films depicting Republicans as venal figures abound while projects that negatively portray Democrat politicians or scandals are far and few between, despite the rich well of possible historical plots and figures from which to choose.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.