WikiLeaks and its embattled founder Julian Assange keep trying to make it crystal clear they don’t support DreamWorks‘ upcoming The Fifth Estate. Today WikiLeaks published the first of Assange’s letters to Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays him in the October 18 release, denying the actor’s request to meet prior to production. The pic directed by Bill Condon is based on Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange and the World’s Most Dangerous Website by Daniel Domscheit-Berg and WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy by David Leigh and Luke Harding, which Assange calls “toxic” and “the two most discredited books on the market”. WikiLeaks previously posted a version of the Fifth Estate script online along with a rather exhaustive memo detailing everything the film gets wrong. Here’s the Assange letter:
Related: Julian Assange Calls ‘Fifth Estate’ A “Massive Propaganda Attack”
Thank you for trying to contact me. It is the first approach by anyone from the Dreamworks production to me or WikiLeaks.
My assistants communicated your request to me, and I have given it a lot of thought and examined your previous work, which I am fond of.
I think I would enjoy meeting you.
The bond that develops between an actor and a living subject is significant.
If the film reaches distribution we will forever be correlated in the public imagination. Our paths will be forever entwined. Each of us will be granted standing to comment on the other for many years to come and others will compare our characters and trajectories.
But I must speak directly. READ MORE »
A military judge today announced that Pfc. Bradley Manning is not guilty of aiding the enemy in the largest leak of classified and diplomatic information in American history. But you wouldn’t have known it if you were … Read More »
Focus World will debut the WikiLeaks docu from Oscar-winner Alex Gibney (Taxi To The Dark Side) on May 24, marking the first in a slew of upcoming films about the whistleblowing website and its founder Julian Assange. That includes DreamWorks and Participant’s Bill Condon-helmed … Read More »
Addressing an Oxford Union debate via videolink on Wednesday night, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange called DreamWorks’ upcoming Bill Condon-directed The Fifth Estate a “massive propaganda attack on WikiLeaks and the character of my staff.” Throughout the address, Assange, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since it offered him asylum in August, had what was purported to be a copy of the film’s script — though The Guardian says he never showed it to the camera. He told students the film was “fanning the flames” of war since, he claims, it starts inside a military complex in Iran with the suggestion a nuclear bomb is being built. He then asked, “How does this have anything to do with us? It is a lie upon lie.” The Fifth Estate started shooting this week with Benedict Cumberbatch as Assange and Daniel Bruhl as his confidant Daniel Domscheit-Berg and traces the early days of WikiLeaks through to the release of a series of controversial and history-changing information disclosures. The script is written by Josh Singer and based on Domscheit-Berg’s book Inside WikiLeaks: My Time With Julian Assange At The World’s Most Dangerous Website, and WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War On Secrecy by Guardian writers David Leigh and Luke Harding.
Related: Participant Media Joins DreamWorks For WikiLeaks Movie ‘The Fifth Estate’
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UPDATE, 10:40 AM: DreamWorks has confirmed my story, and they’ve got a title for the WikiLeaks feature – The Fifth Estate. (At right is also a first photo from the production featuring Benedict Cumberbatch as Assange and Daniel Bruhl as Berg.) I’m putting the press release after the original scoop.
PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, 9:44 AM: Participant Media is closing a deal to become DreamWorks‘ partner on the untitled feature film that Bill Condon is directing about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The studio has Benedict Cumberbatch playing Assange, with Daniel Bruhl playing Daniel Domscheit-Berg, whose book, Inside WikiLeaks: My Time With Julian Assange At The World’s Most Dangerous Website, was one of two books that were the primary source material for the script written by Josh Singer. Steve Golin and Michael Sugar are producing.
This becomes the fifth film partnership between DreamWorks and Participant, where Jeff Skoll and Jim Berk’s focus is to generate socially relevant subject matter. Those other collaborations are the Best Picture nominee Lincoln, The Help, The Kite Runner, and The Soloist.
Related: Q&A: Participant’s Jeff Skoll And Jim Berk
This gives a clear shot at a production start on the film at a time when there has been big interest in the rogue web entrepreneur Assange. That includes one that Zero Dark Thirty scribe Mark Boal partnered on with Management 360 and financier/producer Megan Ellison that’s based on The Boy Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, an article about Assange in The New York Times Magazine written by the newspaper’s executive editor Bill Keller. Read More »
James McAvoy is deep in negotiations to join DreamWorks’ WikiLeaks film, Deadline has confirmed. “It’s close to being done,” an insider said today. McAvoy would play Daniel Domscheit-Berg, the right-hand man to WikiLeaks boss Julian … Read More »
In January, WikiLeaks announced the launch of a Julian Assange-hosted talk show that would include interviews with “key political players, thinkers and revolutionaries from around the world.” Today, WikiLeaks and RT, Russia’s state-funded multilingual network, said the WikiLeaks’ founder’s show, The World Of Tomorrow, will debut Tuesday, April 17. Ten episodes were originally scheduled to start airing in March with the promise of reaching 600 million viewers. WikiLeaks now says 12 episodes have been completed and will air on RT, as well as online and on “other networks to follow.” Assange, who’s under UK house arrest awaiting a decision on possible extradition to Sweden over allegations of sexual assault, conducted the interviews from the “secret location” where he’s holed up. The first 26-minute episode will feature “a notorious guest” whose identity is still under wraps. What we do know is that the first guest will be “particularly controversial” and “highly charismatic.” (The hush-hush nature of the show is kind of ironic for an organization known for its whistle-blowing prowess, I’m just sayin’…) Among future interview subjects are dissidents and some people who have never been interviewed on English-language Read More »
Late Monday, WikiLeaks announced the launch of a Julian Assange-hosted talk show that would include interviews with “key political players, thinkers and revolutionaries from around the world.” Although the announcement offered no production details, distributors interested in licensing the program were referred to Quick Roll Productions, a company whose website was created on January 8. The press release further said the show already had initial licensing commitments that would cover over 600 million viewers across cable, satellite and terrestrial broadcast networks, although it did not identify any of the outlets. Today comes news of the first broadcast partner, the Russian state-funded multilingual television network, RT – which, incidentally, has oft been accused of having a pro-Kremlin bias. RT says it is airing the show exclusively, although that exclusivity may only extend to first run given the network’s website says it reaches 430 million viewers in “at least 100 countries.” RT calls the Assange show “arguably the most anticipated news series of 2012” and says the 10 half-hours will focus on Assange’s “favorite topic: controversy.” No guest names were released. According to RT, however, the interviews are to be filmed on location in the UK where Assange is awaiting a British court’s decision on extraditing him to Sweden to face allegations of sexual molestation of two women. His appeal is to be heard in the UK next week. WikiLeaks said the series will begin airing in mid-March which raises the question of whether Read More »
Rom-Com Zombies Lurching Into Bollywood Films
Indian filmmakers are dipping their creative toes into the zombie water, but with a light-hearted touch. Shaadi of the Dead (Wedding of the Dead) is about a zombie invasion at a Punjabi marriage ceremony. It’s set for release next year. Also in the works is Go Goa Gone, starring Saif Ali Khan, about a group of youngsters who fight the undead in the resort state of Goa. Shaadi of the Dead director Navdeep Singh is banking on the novelty value of the genre to attract younger Indian film audiences. “We feel this idea of a zombie film is very fresh,” he told AFP. “It is something that has never been tried in the Hindi film industry and so we feel it will work.”
Al-Jazeera Head Steps Down After WikiLeaks Link To U.S.
Qatar’s government has replaced Wadah Khanfar, the director-general of the Al-Jazeera satellite TV network, with a member of its own royal family. Khanfar’s resignation comes after eight years of revolutionizing the Middle East’s media landscape, but in the wake of a WikiLeaks controversy. A U.S. government cable uncovered last month suggests Khanfar agreed to “tone down” objectionable content and promised to “remove it over the subsequent two or three days.” Al-Jazeera has played a key role in the protest movements sweeping the Middle East, airing round-the-clock coverage of uprisings that brought down rulers in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya this year. The new chief is Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani, an executive at Qatargas. Read More »
Wikileaks Shows MPAA Drove Aussie Copyright Suit
A newly released Wikileaks cable from the U.S. State Dept. confirms what many presumed all along: The Hollywood studios were behind a broad copyright suit filed in 2008 against Perth-based Internet service provider iiNet. The Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft was the plaintiff of record, charging that the ISP failed to prevent pirating on its network. That claim was rejected on grounds the ISP couldn’t be responsible for its users’ actions. Earlier this month, however, Australia’s High Court agreed to hear an appeal, likely in the fall. The Motion Picture Association of America was from the outset a driving force in the suit but ”does not want that fact to be broadcast,” then-U.S. Ambassador Robert D. McCallum Jr. wrote in 2008, adding that the MPAA wants to avoid the impression that it is “just Hollywood ‘bullying some poor little Australian ISP’.” That didn’t really work: the original ruling said that AFACT was for all intents and purposes a “local franchise” of the MPAA. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: The Hurt Locker screenwriter Mark Boal and Management 360 have partnered with financier/producer Megan Ellison to option The Boy Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, an article about WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange in The New York Times Magazine written by the … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Oscar-winning documentary director Alex Gibney has found his next hot-button film subject. Universal Pictures has just acquired a documentary that Gibney will direct about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The film will be the first project involving Marc Shmuger since … Read More »
One of the Sundance documentaries showing up on buyer priority lists is Page One. Director Andrew Rossi camped out at the media desk of The New York Times for 14 months. Trust me, a chronicle of the day to day … Read More »
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, out on bail after an arrest for an alleged sex crime, has made a deal to write his memoirs for Random House’s Alfred A. Knopf label, and UK’s Canongate Books. More territorial sales will bring in … Read More »
We’re still waiting for Wikileaks: the movie but in the meanwhile, here is Wikileaks: the documentary. Zodiak Rights, the international rights division of Zodiak Media Group, has signed a deal with news agency Premières Lignes to distribute their documentary Wikileaks: … Read More »