Source: Deadline Hollywood
It would be hard to come up with a movie following a faster track than The Post. Steven Spielberg only said yes this past Monday to direct Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep in the Fox/Amblin co-production and they’ve all clearing their schedules to start production in late May. Deals are still being finalized, but that means the film will be ready for release to qualify for this coming Oscar season. The drama focuses on the Washington Post’s role in exposing the Pentagon Papers in 1971, and how the Post’s editor Ben Bradlee (Hanks) and publisher Kay Graham (Streep) joined The New York Times in challenging the federal government over their right to publish them. The film is based on the Liz Hannah script, with Amy Pascal, Spielberg, and Kristie Macosko Krieger (Bridge of Spies) producing. Rachel O’Connor will be executive producer along with Star Thrower Entertainment’s Tim and Trevor White, and Adam Somner.
This certainly perks up next Oscar season where buzz so far has centered on such films as Kathryn Bigelow’s untitled film about the Detroit riots of 1967, Paul Thomas Anderson’s untitled pic with Daniel Day Lewis, Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney film, Christopher Nolan’s WWII pic Dunkirk, and Alexander Payne’s Downsizing. The Post immediately joins that list.
It is the second Oscar bait picture to focus on the storied Washington Post editor Bradlee, after All The President’s Men. While that film got upset in the Best Picture category by Rocky (as did nominees Network and Taxi Driver), Jason Robards did win Best Supporting Actor for playing Bradlee. His son, Ben Bradlee Jr, was part of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team of Boston Globe reporters whose expose of pedophile priests and the church cover up in Boston formed the basis for Best Picture winner Spotlight. John Slattery played Bradlee Jr.
The leaker was military analyst Daniel Ellsberg, a pro-war advocate when he started working on the study at the RAND Corporation. His conviction transformed during his work on the classified report and he came to believe the research should be exposed to inform future policy. When the White House chose to keep the info classified, Ellsberg leaked it to The New York Times; the newspaper’s scathing first installment charged the Johnson administration had systematically lied to the public and to Congress about Vietnam. Once Nixon’s Attorney General John Mitchell got a federal court injunction forcing the Times to cease after three installments, it was up to Bradlee and Graham to decide whether to take the baton and deal the next batch of information after Ellsberg gave the 47-volume study to Bradlee. The Boston Globe later published more of it, and Alaska U.S. Senator Mike Gravel read highlights aloud in a Senate subcommittee hearing. After The New York Times and Washington Post prevailed in the Supreme Court challenge on First Amendment grounds, the Nixon Administration could no longer stop the contents of the report from being made public. The Supreme Court justices ruled 6-3 that the government failed to prove a harm to national security and that publication was justified by the First Amendment.
Ellsberg was arrested and charged with conspiracy, espionage and theft of government property. While Ellsberg said he was willing to go to jail to stop an unjust war, charges against him were eventually dropped when the Watergate scandal revealed that staffers at the Nixon White House were involved in unlawful efforts to discredit him by burglarizing the office of his psychiatrist.