'Theory of Everything' writer to tackle George Clooney’s phone hacking scandal docudrama
Writer Anthony McCarten is having a very good year. The playwright and novelist spent ten years writing “The Theory of Everything,” developing Jane Hawking’s book ”Travelling to Infinity" into 2014’s critically acclaimed biopic. Festival and academy screening reactions suggest McCarten could see his first Oscar-nomination in the Best Adapted Screenplay category. And with its limited release imminent, the writer has found a follow-up to sink his teeth into project. He’ll collaborate with George Clooney on his next directorial effort.
Deadline reports that McCarten is in talks to adapt Nick Davies’s “Hack Attack,” a non-fiction account of writer The Guardian’s investigation that led to the 2011 News International phone-hacking scandal. As he picked apart the hacking history of British tabloid News of the World, revealing celebrities, politicians, royalty, and policemen as targets, Davies’ discovery of that murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler was one of the victims pushed the scandal into public investigation territory. When Rupert Murdoch has to pay attention, you know it’s a big deal. Here’s how the book describes itself:
“‘Hack Attack’ is the mesmerizing story of how Davies and a small group of lawyers and politicians took on one of the most powerful men in the world—and beat him. It exposes the inner workings of the ruthless machine that was the News of the World, and of the private investigators who hacked phones, listened to live calls, sent Trojan horse emails, bribed the police, and committed burglaries to dig up tabloid scoops. Above all, it is a study of the private lives of the power elite. It paints an intimate portrait of the social network that gave Rupert Murdoch privileged access to government, and allowed him and his lieutenants to intimidate anyone who stood up to them.”
The report indicates that a number of parties competed for the rights to “Hack Attack,” including famous faces whose private lives were exposed by News of the World’s hacking. Clooney is no stranger to journalism-minded stories — son of Cincinnati anchorman Nick Clooney, the actor-writer-director previously turned his camera to the investigative journalism world in the Edward R. Murrow story, “Good Night, and Good Luck.”
How McCarten will turn this non-fiction account into a functional film has not been pinned down. Let’s hope it doesn’t take him another 10 years to crack it.