‘Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes’ Film Review: Fox News Kingpin Disgusts and Illuminates in New Doc

Would you like to blame Bill Gates for Roger Ailes creating Fox News? You could harbor that grudge if you so desired after watching Alexis Bloom’s bracing biopic documentary “Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes,” because it’s one of the fascinating tidbits of speculative psychology in the grand narrative of a dark-hearted, power-thirsty mogul’s stranglehold on our divisive political discourse.

It seems that in the mid-90s, flush from his many years helping Republican candidates like Mitch McConnell get elected, Ailes was content to be a talk-show magnate, running his brainchild America’s Talking, a CNBC spinoff network that was the first real attempt to launch an all-chat-show channel with a wide audience reach. (Ailes hosted one of the shows, a celebrity interview hour.)

But when NBC partnered with Bill Gates to start MSNBC, they gave the software billionaire the transponder used for America’s Talking, effectively ending Ailes’ baby. Steamed and spiteful, according to the documentary, Ailes went straight to Rupert Murdoch and started his 24/7 assault on libtards (and truth) while continuing the ongoing harassment of women that would eventually sever him from his empire in 2016. Less than a year into the Fox-anointed Donald Trump presidency that defined his poisonous influence on America, Ailes died.

Watch Trailer: Roger Ailes Painted as Genius and Monster in ‘Divide and Conquer’ Trailer

“Divide and Conquer,” built on interviews with associates, journalists and victims, doesn’t try to pretend Ailes invented Fox News purely out of revenge. Earlier we learn that when he was known as the media-savvy wunderkind who helped make Nixon TV-presidential in 1968, a memo circulated — thought to be written by Ailes — outlining an idea for “GOP on TV,” a way to send conservative-oriented news items to local stations around the country and bypass a critical mainstream press represented by the big networks. That idea never materialized, but when you look not only at Fox but also at the affiliate reach of right-leaning Sinclair Broadcasting, Ailes looks more and more like a guy destined to completely shape America’s media-political complex.

The America’s Talking story is just one juicy coloring in a clear-eyed documentary that indicates Ailes’ manipulative genius and epic paranoia were always there — they were just waiting for the perfect storm of money, power and communications expansion. And it happened a few times: When he joined the Nixon camp from his producing gig on “The Mike Douglas Show,” when he started spearheading effective lowest-common-denominator campaigns for Republicans and finally when he fell into Murdoch’s arms.

Watch Video: ‘Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes’ Director Wanted Doc to Be About More Than Sexual Harassment

Austin Pendleton remembers his Warren, Ohio, schoolmate as “witty and intelligent.” His “Mike Douglas” colleague Kenneth Johnson remembers Ailes’ fascination with Leni Riefenstahl’s depiction of power in “Triumph of the Will,” and how he used its angles to make Nixon look heroic for a TV campaign special. By the time Ailes was turning Fox into the most successful of the news networks, he’d bought fully into an us-versus-them mentality. According to Alisyn Camerota, a former Fox host now on CNN, Ailes — who carried a gun and believed gay terrorists and Muslims were after him — thought there was a war between the American way of life and “evil.”

But the only evil in Ailes’ story that feels immediate and dangerous is his own behavior, illustrated in stories of people like interviewee Kellie Boyle, who recounts how a sexually rebuffed Ailes had her blacklisted when she was starting out as a political consultant. The biggest names on both sides of the Fox News culture-of-sexism issue — Gretchen Carlson, whose harassment suit helped bring Ailes down, and Bill O’Reilly, whose own allegations against him led to being ousted at Fox — aren’t interviewed, but their quickly rehashed stories here play like direct results of an objectification of women, and a power-mad mindset, that were longtime Ailes traits.

Also Read: Lionsgate in Talks to Pick up Jay Roach’s Roger Ailes Scandal Film

Bloom also dives into the Fox chairman’s quixotic, unwelcome attempt to take over the small upstate New York town he and wife Elizabeth had moved to, bringing the strategy in the movie’s title to a sleepy council election and the running of a local paper. The irony is too rich; the guy who made his name being able to read any room he was in for enemies and weaknesses couldn’t gauge how unwelcome his malicious tactics were in his own community.

There’s an attempt to evoke the later years of Charles Foster Kane in the worsening paranoia and battle-ready positions of Ailes’ old age. A couple of crisis consultants also spill the beans on his war room after Ailes’ victims went public, and even Glenn Beck describes a J. Edgar Hoover-like exchange with his old boss that sounds like power-through-blackmail was one of his trips.

None of this will probably surprise you, and it certainly won’t make you feel sorry for the most consequential media czar of the last few decades, whose ugly spawn continue to wreak unfair, unbalanced havoc on our electorate. But if you’re looking for a quick medicinal shot of how we got to Trump in the White House, the bracing “Divide and Conquer” feels like one of the more alarming civics courses you’ll ever take.



Related stories from TheWrap:

Seth MacFarlane, Sienna Miller Among 4 New Additions to Showtime’s Roger Ailes Miniseries

Russell Crowe Cast as Roger Ailes in Showtime Limited Series

Andrea Tantaros Accuses Fox News, Roger Ailes of Filming Female Hosts Undressing

Gizmodo Sues the FBI for Roger Ailes’ File

Would you like to blame Bill Gates for Roger Ailes creating Fox News? You could harbor that grudge if you so desired after watching Alexis Bloom’s bracing biopic documentary “Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes,” because it’s one of the fascinating tidbits of speculative psychology in the grand narrative of a dark-hearted, power-thirsty mogul’s stranglehold on our divisive political discourse.

It seems that in the mid-90s, flush from his many years helping Republican candidates like Mitch McConnell get elected, Ailes was content to be a talk-show magnate, running his brainchild America’s Talking, a CNBC spinoff network that was the first real attempt to launch an all-chat-show channel with a wide audience reach. (Ailes hosted one of the shows, a celebrity interview hour.)

But when NBC partnered with Bill Gates to start MSNBC, they gave the software billionaire the transponder used for America’s Talking, effectively ending Ailes’ baby. Steamed and spiteful, according to the documentary, Ailes went straight to Rupert Murdoch and started his 24/7 assault on libtards (and truth) while continuing the ongoing harassment of women that would eventually sever him from his empire in 2016. Less than a year into the Fox-anointed Donald Trump presidency that defined his poisonous influence on America, Ailes died.

“Divide and Conquer,” built on interviews with associates, journalists and victims, doesn’t try to pretend Ailes invented Fox News purely out of revenge. Earlier we learn that when he was known as the media-savvy wunderkind who helped make Nixon TV-presidential in 1968, a memo circulated — thought to be written by Ailes — outlining an idea for “GOP on TV,” a way to send conservative-oriented news items to local stations around the country and bypass a critical mainstream press represented by the big networks. That idea never materialized, but when you look not only at Fox but also at the affiliate reach of right-leaning Sinclair Broadcasting, Ailes looks more and more like a guy destined to completely shape America’s media-political complex.

The America’s Talking story is just one juicy coloring in a clear-eyed documentary that indicates Ailes’ manipulative genius and epic paranoia were always there — they were just waiting for the perfect storm of money, power and communications expansion. And it happened a few times: When he joined the Nixon camp from his producing gig on “The Mike Douglas Show,” when he started spearheading effective lowest-common-denominator campaigns for Republicans and finally when he fell into Murdoch’s arms.

Austin Pendleton remembers his Warren, Ohio, schoolmate as “witty and intelligent.” His “Mike Douglas” colleague Kenneth Johnson remembers Ailes’ fascination with Leni Riefenstahl’s depiction of power in “Triumph of the Will,” and how he used its angles to make Nixon look heroic for a TV campaign special. By the time Ailes was turning Fox into the most successful of the news networks, he’d bought fully into an us-versus-them mentality. According to Alisyn Camerota, a former Fox host now on CNN, Ailes — who carried a gun and believed gay terrorists and Muslims were after him — thought there was a war between the American way of life and “evil.”

But the only evil in Ailes’ story that feels immediate and dangerous is his own behavior, illustrated in stories of people like interviewee Kellie Boyle, who recounts how a sexually rebuffed Ailes had her blacklisted when she was starting out as a political consultant. The biggest names on both sides of the Fox News culture-of-sexism issue — Gretchen Carlson, whose harassment suit helped bring Ailes down, and Bill O’Reilly, whose own allegations against him led to being ousted at Fox — aren’t interviewed, but their quickly rehashed stories here play like direct results of an objectification of women, and a power-mad mindset, that were longtime Ailes traits.

Bloom also dives into the Fox chairman’s quixotic, unwelcome attempt to take over the small upstate New York town he and wife Elizabeth had moved to, bringing the strategy in the movie’s title to a sleepy council election and the running of a local paper. The irony is too rich; the guy who made his name being able to read any room he was in for enemies and weaknesses couldn’t gauge how unwelcome his malicious tactics were in his own community.

There’s an attempt to evoke the later years of Charles Foster Kane in the worsening paranoia and battle-ready positions of Ailes’ old age. A couple of crisis consultants also spill the beans on his war room after Ailes’ victims went public, and even Glenn Beck describes a J. Edgar Hoover-like exchange with his old boss that sounds like power-through-blackmail was one of his trips.

None of this will probably surprise you, and it certainly won’t make you feel sorry for the most consequential media czar of the last few decades, whose ugly spawn continue to wreak unfair, unbalanced havoc on our electorate. But if you’re looking for a quick medicinal shot of how we got to Trump in the White House, the bracing “Divide and Conquer” feels like one of the more alarming civics courses you’ll ever take.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Seth MacFarlane, Sienna Miller Among 4 New Additions to Showtime's Roger Ailes Miniseries

Russell Crowe Cast as Roger Ailes in Showtime Limited Series

Andrea Tantaros Accuses Fox News, Roger Ailes of Filming Female Hosts Undressing

Gizmodo Sues the FBI for Roger Ailes' File

Bill Shine’s Fox News Severance Package Tops $8.4 Million

Bill Shine, the former co-president of Fox News and now the communications chief for the Trump administration, received $8.4 million in severance pay from 21st Century Fox after his resignation in May 2017, according to CNBC.
Along with that payout, Sh…

Bill Shine, the former co-president of Fox News and now the communications chief for the Trump administration, received $8.4 million in severance pay from 21st Century Fox after his resignation in May 2017, according to CNBC.

Along with that payout, Shine will receive bonuses and options for 2018 and 2019, both of which are valued at approximately $3.5 million, according to a White House financial disclosure report obtained by CNBC.

The White House press secretary’s office and representatives for Fox News did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment on Friday. 21st Century Fox, the news outlet’s parent company, declined to comment.

CNBC says it obtained the report “after dozens of requests to the Office of Government Ethics.”

In July, The New York Times reported that the former co-president of Fox News was subpoenaed in 2017 as part of a criminal investigation into the company’s handling of multiple accusations of sexual harassment by top executives like former CEO Roger Ailes and on-air talent.

Though Shine was never personally accused of misconduct, he has been named in multiple civil suits against the channel with claims that he did not properly address complaints.

Shine joined the Trump White House to lead the communications team this summer, capping a long search to replace Hope Hicks. He is the fourth person to hold the turbulent job since Trump took office last year.

Many questioned his appointment given his high-profile position at Fox News when the accusations of misconduct — as well as pricey settlements to female staffers — first came to light.

Shine, a former protege of Ailes, was ousted last May as co-president, with Jack Abernethy remaining at the company. The two had been promoted to lead the network after the removal of Ailes as CEO in July 2016.

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Jay Roach’s Untitled Roger Ailes Movie: Nazanin Boniadi To Play Former Fox News Reporter Rudi Bakhtiar

EXCLUSIVE: Hotel Mumbai actress Nazanin Boniadi has boarded Jay Roach’s untitled Roger Ailes movie in the role of former Fox News reporter Rudi Bakhtiar. The film is currently in production.
After FNC host Gretchen Carlson came forward with sexua…

EXCLUSIVE: Hotel Mumbai actress Nazanin Boniadi has boarded Jay Roach’s untitled Roger Ailes movie in the role of former Fox News reporter Rudi Bakhtiar. The film is currently in production. After FNC host Gretchen Carlson came forward with sexual allegations against late Fox News chief Ailes in July 2016, Bakhtiar spoke to the New York Times and New York magazine sharing how she was sexually propositioned for a a full-time Washington D.C. correspondent position by FNC…

Jay Roach’s Roger Ailes Project Adds Brooke Smith & Michael Buie

EXCLUSIVE: Brooke Smith (The Silence of the Lambs) and Michael Buie (Marvel’s Inhumans) have landed supporting roles in Jay Roach-directed untitled Fox News film about the women who rose up against network boss Roger Ailes and his toxic male cult…

EXCLUSIVE: Brooke Smith (The Silence of the Lambs) and Michael Buie (Marvel’s Inhumans) have landed supporting roles in Jay Roach-directed untitled Fox News film about the women who rose up against network boss Roger Ailes and his toxic male culture. They join stacked cast list that includes John Lithgow (Ailes), Nicole Kidman (Gretchen Carlson), Margot Robbie (Kayla Pospisil), Charlize Theron (Megyn Kelly), and Allison Janney (feminist lawyer Susan Estrich). Buie will…

Ashley Greene To Play Former ‘Fox & Friends’ Host Abby Huntsman In Roger Ailes Film

EXCLUSIVE: Ashley Greene has been added to the robust, all-star cast of the Jay Roach’s yet-to-be-titled Fox News project about the women who fought against network boss Roger Ailes and his toxic male culture. Greene is set to play former Fox &#3…

EXCLUSIVE: Ashley Greene has been added to the robust, all-star cast of the Jay Roach’s yet-to-be-titled Fox News project about the women who fought against network boss Roger Ailes and his toxic male culture. Greene is set to play former Fox & Friends host Abby Huntsman. Penned by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Charles Randolph (The Big Short), the Twilight alum joins a roster of actors who will step into the roles of other players in the Fox News Channel universe…

Connie Britton Joins Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron in Movie About Fox News Scandal

Connie Britton will play Roger Ailes’ wife in Jay Roach’s movie about the Fox News scandal, an individual with knowledge of the project told TheWrap.

Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron, Kate McKinnon, Margot Robbie, Allison Janney and John Lithgow also star.

The script is being penned by Academy Award-winner Charles Randolph (“The Big Short”). Theron, Beth Kono, and A.J. Dix of Denver and Delilah are producing alongside Roach, Randolph and Lighthouse Management and Media’s Margaret Media.

Also Read: Lionsgate in Talks to Pick up Jay Roach’s Roger Ailes Scandal Film

The film became a casualty of the ongoing upheaval at Annapurna when it was dropped over budget issues Oct. 9, two weeks before it was to begin production. The film had already locked down its main cast. A week later, Lionsgate started its discussions to pick up the feature film, and the company is still finalizing the deal to finance and distribute it. BRON Studios is currently financing the movie.

The film is expected to tell the story of the Fox News sexual harassment scandal from the point of view of the women who took on the toxic male culture of Fox News, ultimately leading to Roger Ailes’ downfall.

Ailes resigned from Fox News in 2016 after Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit that resulted in multiple women coming forward with similar claims. At the time, Ailes was considered the mastermind behind the success of Fox News and one of the most powerful men in both media and American politics.

Also Read: Connie Britton to Return for ‘AHS: Apocalypse’ (Exclusive)

Britton will next be seen in the Bravo series “Dirty John,” and her recent credits include an episode of Ryan Murphy’s “American Horror Story: Apocalypse,” “Nashville” and “Professor Marston and the Wonder Women.”

She is represented by WME, Untitled and Hansen Jacobson.

The Hollywood Reporter first reported the news.

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Connie Britton will play Roger Ailes’ wife in Jay Roach’s movie about the Fox News scandal, an individual with knowledge of the project told TheWrap.

Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron, Kate McKinnon, Margot Robbie, Allison Janney and John Lithgow also star.

The script is being penned by Academy Award-winner Charles Randolph (“The Big Short”). Theron, Beth Kono, and A.J. Dix of Denver and Delilah are producing alongside Roach, Randolph and Lighthouse Management and Media’s Margaret Media.

The film became a casualty of the ongoing upheaval at Annapurna when it was dropped over budget issues Oct. 9, two weeks before it was to begin production. The film had already locked down its main cast. A week later, Lionsgate started its discussions to pick up the feature film, and the company is still finalizing the deal to finance and distribute it. BRON Studios is currently financing the movie.

The film is expected to tell the story of the Fox News sexual harassment scandal from the point of view of the women who took on the toxic male culture of Fox News, ultimately leading to Roger Ailes’ downfall.

Ailes resigned from Fox News in 2016 after Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit that resulted in multiple women coming forward with similar claims. At the time, Ailes was considered the mastermind behind the success of Fox News and one of the most powerful men in both media and American politics.

Britton will next be seen in the Bravo series “Dirty John,” and her recent credits include an episode of Ryan Murphy’s “American Horror Story: Apocalypse,” “Nashville” and “Professor Marston and the Wonder Women.”

She is represented by WME, Untitled and Hansen Jacobson.

The Hollywood Reporter first reported the news.

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Elisabeth Röhm To Play Fox News Host Martha MacCallum; Spencer Garrett Is Sean Hannity: Jay Roach’s Roger Ailes Movie

EXCLUSIVE: Elisabeth Rohm and Spencer Garrett will both play respective champions of Roger Ailes, Fox News hosts Martha MacCallum and Sean Hannity, in Jay Roach’s upcoming Bron Studios movie about the network boss and the females who crusaded aga…

EXCLUSIVE: Elisabeth Rohm and Spencer Garrett will both play respective champions of Roger Ailes, Fox News hosts Martha MacCallum and Sean Hannity, in Jay Roach’s upcoming Bron Studios movie about the network boss and the females who crusaded against his toxic corporate culture. MacCallum, like Jeanine Pirro (who is being played by Alanna Ubach in the movie as we broke yesterday), was one who was quick to defend Ailes after news broke about his alleged sexual harassment…

Alanna Ubach To Play Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro In Jay Roach’s Untitled Roger Ailes Feature

EXCLUSIVE: After working with Jay Roach on Meet the Fockers, Alanna Ubach is set to play Fox News spitfire host Jeanine Pirro in the filmmaker’s upcoming untitled feature about the women who battle against network boss Roger Ailes and his hostile…

EXCLUSIVE: After working with Jay Roach on Meet the Fockers, Alanna Ubach is set to play Fox News spitfire host Jeanine Pirro in the filmmaker’s upcoming untitled feature about the women who battle against network boss Roger Ailes and his hostile corporate culture. Pirro was one of the Fox News hosts who defended Ailes, ripping apart FNC colleague Gretchen Carlson's sexual harassment lawsuit back in July 2016. Carlson will be played by Nicole Kidman in the movie. Pirro…

Jay Roach’s Roger Ailes-Fox News Movie Adds Brigette Lundy-Paine & Liv Hewson

EXCLUSIVE: Jay Roach’s untitled Roger Ailes feature has tapped two Netflix stars: Brigette Lundy-Paine from Atypical and Liv Hewson from Santa Clarita Diet.
Brigette Lundy-Paine will play the role of Julia Clarke in the Charles Randolph-scripted …

EXCLUSIVE: Jay Roach’s untitled Roger Ailes feature has tapped two Netflix stars: Brigette Lundy-Paine from Atypical and Liv Hewson from Santa Clarita Diet. Brigette Lundy-Paine will play the role of Julia Clarke in the Charles Randolph-scripted feature from Bron Studios which stars Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie as the women who took down the Fox News channel chief who created a toxic male corporate culture. Hewson will play Lily, the assistant to…

Roger Ailes Painted as Genius and Monster in ‘Divide and Conquer’ Trailer (Video)

Was former Fox News chief Roger Ailes a genius, a monster or both? That’s a question posed by the new documentary “Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes.”

“It’s easy to make somebody into a monster. It’s hard to see that you’re on that path too,” says former Fox News personality Glenn Beck in the first trailer for the film.

Directed by Alexis Bloom and executive produced by Alex Gibney, the doc tells the life story of Ailes, from coaching Richard Nixon as a media advisor to his sexual harassment scandal at Fox News prior to his death. The film describes him as a Shakespearean figure who was “more important than America,” who “was profoundly paranoid” and who used power and manipulation as tools to build his media empire and shape a nation.

Also Read: ‘RBG’ and ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor?’ Among 166 Documentaries Submitted for Oscars

One chilling story featured in the trailer involves Ailes sleeping on the top bunk of a bunk bed as a child, his father told him to jump before stepping away and not catching him.

“Don’t trust anyone,” an interview subject says in the trailer. “That story is not true,” another responds.

Magnolia Pictures is releasing “Divide and Conquer” in theaters on demand, on iTunes and on Amazon Prime Video starting Dec. 7.

Watch the trailer above.

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Lionsgate in Talks to Pick up Jay Roach’s Roger Ailes Scandal Film

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Fox News Film Focused on Roger Ailes Scandal Dropped by Annapurna

Was former Fox News chief Roger Ailes a genius, a monster or both? That’s a question posed by the new documentary “Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes.”

“It’s easy to make somebody into a monster. It’s hard to see that you’re on that path too,” says former Fox News personality Glenn Beck in the first trailer for the film.

Directed by Alexis Bloom and executive produced by Alex Gibney, the doc tells the life story of Ailes, from coaching Richard Nixon as a media advisor to his sexual harassment scandal at Fox News prior to his death. The film describes him as a Shakespearean figure who was “more important than America,” who “was profoundly paranoid” and who used power and manipulation as tools to build his media empire and shape a nation.

One chilling story featured in the trailer involves Ailes sleeping on the top bunk of a bunk bed as a child, his father told him to jump before stepping away and not catching him.

“Don’t trust anyone,” an interview subject says in the trailer. “That story is not true,” another responds.

Magnolia Pictures is releasing “Divide and Conquer” in theaters on demand, on iTunes and on Amazon Prime Video starting Dec. 7.

Watch the trailer above.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Lionsgate in Talks to Pick up Jay Roach's Roger Ailes Scandal Film

Seth MacFarlane, Sienna Miller Among 4 New Additions to Showtime's Roger Ailes Miniseries

Fox News Film Focused on Roger Ailes Scandal Dropped by Annapurna

Lionsgate Handling Sales On Jay Roach’s Starry Roger Ailes Harassment Movie – AFM

EXCLUSIVE: I understand Lionsgate is selling Jay Roach’s Roger Ailes-Fox News harassment movie here at the AFM.
As we’ve reported in recent weeks, Lionsgate has been moving towards a deal for the movie, which was previously set up with Anna…

EXCLUSIVE: I understand Lionsgate is selling Jay Roach’s Roger Ailes-Fox News harassment movie here at the AFM. As we’ve reported in recent weeks, Lionsgate has been moving towards a deal for the movie, which was previously set up with Annapurna. The expectation is that Lionsgate will take worldwide rights and handle U.S. and UK itself, and Latin America via its JV IDC. A number of international markets are seemingly up for grabs. BRON Studios is producing and financing…

Chaka Khan and Prince Feature Documentaries Launching at AFM

Feature documentaries about Chaka Khan and Prince are on Kew Media Distribution’s slate for the AFM. Kew is building a profile in music documentaries, launching “Chuck Berry” at Mipcom and recently sealing deals with Showtime and Sky for “Teddy Penderg…

Feature documentaries about Chaka Khan and Prince are on Kew Media Distribution’s slate for the AFM. Kew is building a profile in music documentaries, launching “Chuck Berry” at Mipcom and recently sealing deals with Showtime and Sky for “Teddy Pendergrass – If You Don’t Know Me.” In Michael J. Kirk’s “Mr Nelson: On the North Side,” […]

Aleksa Palladino To Co-Star In Showtime’s Roger Ailes Limited Series

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The as-yet untitled series (fka Secure and Hold: The…

Former Halt and Catch Fire star Aleksa Palladino is set for a lead role opposite Russell Crowe in Showtime's upcoming eight-episode limited series about Fox News founder Roger Ailes, played by Crowe. The as-yet untitled series (fka Secure and Hold: The Last Days of Roger Ailes), a Blumhouse Television and Showtime co-production, is based on Gabriel Sherman's bestselling book The Loudest Voice in the Room and his extensive reporting for New York magazine about the sordid…

Mark Duplass & Alice Eve Join Jay Roach’s Roger Ailes Movie

EXCLUSIVE: Mark Duplass and Alice Eve are boarding Jay Roach’s untitled Roger Ailes movie which Lionsgate is currently closing to distribute and BRON Studios is producing and co-financing.
Duplass will play the husband of Megyn Kelly, who is bein…

EXCLUSIVE: Mark Duplass and Alice Eve are boarding Jay Roach’s untitled Roger Ailes movie which Lionsgate is currently closing to distribute and BRON Studios is producing and co-financing. Duplass will play the husband of Megyn Kelly, who is being played by Charlize Theron. Eve will play Fox & Friends host Ainsley Earhardt. The feature, which was passed on by Annapurna before going into production, centers around the women at Fox News Channel who were sexually harassed by…

Lionsgate in Negotiations for Star-Studded Roger Ailes Movie Dropped by Annapurna

Lionsgate is in negotiations to back the untitled Fox News sexual harassment film starring Charlize Theron and Nicole Kidman, sources have told Variety. Lionsgate had no comment Monday. Annapurna decided on Oct. 9 to back out of the project due to budg…

Lionsgate is in negotiations to back the untitled Fox News sexual harassment film starring Charlize Theron and Nicole Kidman, sources have told Variety. Lionsgate had no comment Monday. Annapurna decided on Oct. 9 to back out of the project due to budgetary concerns. Focus Features was considering a move to come on board, but that […]

Lionsgate in Talks to Pick up Jay Roach’s Roger Ailes Scandal Film

A week after Annapurna pulled out of the project, Lionsgate is in talks to pick up Jay Roach’s planned feature film about the Roger Ailes scandal, TheWrap has learned.

The film became a casualty of the ongoing upheavel at Annapurna when it was dropped over budget issues Oct. 9, just two weeks before it was to begin production. Directed by Roach with a screenplay by “The Big Short” writer Charles Randolph, the film had already locked down its main cast, which included Malcolm McDowell as Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch and John Lithgow as Ailes.

Individuals with knowledge of the matter tell TheWrap that Lionsgate’s interest stems from the project’s star-driven cast and pedigree. Alongside McDowell and Lithgow, the film also landed Charlize Theron as Megyn Kelly, Nicole Kidman as Gretchen Carlson, plus Margot Robbie, Kate McKinnon and Allison Janney.

Lionsgate declined to comment.

Also Read: ‘Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes’ Director Wanted Doc to Be About More Than Sexual Harassment (Video)

The film was expected to tell the story of the Fox News sexual harassment scandal from the point of view of the women who took on the toxic male culture of Fox News, ultimately leading to Ailes’ downfall.

Ailes resigned from Fox News in 2016 after Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit that resulted in multiple women coming forward with similar claims. At the time, Ailes was considered the mastermind behind the success of Fox News and one of the most powerful men in both media and American politics.

Roach, Randolph and Lighthouse Management and Media’s Margaret Media were all on board to produce.

Deadline first reported on Lionsgate’s interest in the project.

Related stories from TheWrap:

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Alyssa Milano: ‘We Probably Should Have Investigated’ Bill Clinton Sexual Misconduct Accusations

How Hollywood’s Sexual Misconduct Policies Have Changed in the Year Since #MeToo

Steven Seagal Walks Out Mid-Interview After Question About Sexual Assault Accusations (Video)

A week after Annapurna pulled out of the project, Lionsgate is in talks to pick up Jay Roach’s planned feature film about the Roger Ailes scandal, TheWrap has learned.

The film became a casualty of the ongoing upheavel at Annapurna when it was dropped over budget issues Oct. 9, just two weeks before it was to begin production. Directed by Roach with a screenplay by “The Big Short” writer Charles Randolph, the film had already locked down its main cast, which included Malcolm McDowell as Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch and John Lithgow as Ailes.

Individuals with knowledge of the matter tell TheWrap that Lionsgate’s interest stems from the project’s star-driven cast and pedigree. Alongside McDowell and Lithgow, the film also landed Charlize Theron as Megyn Kelly, Nicole Kidman as Gretchen Carlson, plus Margot Robbie, Kate McKinnon and Allison Janney.

Lionsgate declined to comment.

The film was expected to tell the story of the Fox News sexual harassment scandal from the point of view of the women who took on the toxic male culture of Fox News, ultimately leading to Ailes’ downfall.

Ailes resigned from Fox News in 2016 after Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit that resulted in multiple women coming forward with similar claims. At the time, Ailes was considered the mastermind behind the success of Fox News and one of the most powerful men in both media and American politics.

Roach, Randolph and Lighthouse Management and Media’s Margaret Media were all on board to produce.

Deadline first reported on Lionsgate’s interest in the project.

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Female Reporters Speak Out on Sexual Harassment From Male Sources: 'I Blame Your Sexy Ass'

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Lionsgate In Talks For Jay Roach’s Roger Ailes Project

EXCLUSIVE: We hear that Lionsgate is in talks for Jay Roach’s Roger Ailes feature project. Some say they are pretty far down the road, but nothing is completely signed yet.
Annapurna pulled the plug on the project after the production cost soared…

EXCLUSIVE: We hear that Lionsgate is in talks for Jay Roach’s Roger Ailes feature project. Some say they are pretty far down the road, but nothing is completely signed yet. Annapurna pulled the plug on the project after the production cost soared north of $35M. Amblin was said to be in the mix after the news last week, and then was out. Focus Features also recently passed. When it comes to political dramas on screen, Lionsgate was involved in Oliver Stone’s W. about…

Seth MacFarlane Will Play Former Fox News PR Chief in Upcoming Showtime Roger Ailes Series

Sienna Miller, Simon McBurney, and Annabelle Wallis also join the cast, which will feature Russell Crowe as the cable network’s former CEO.

As Fox continues to undergo dramatic changes, one of its highest-profile creators is joining a project about the life of one from its past.

Showtime announced a group of additions to the cast of its upcoming Roger Ailes series, including Seth MacFarlane and Sienna Miller. MacFarlane has signed on to play Brian Lewis, the former public relations head at Fox News who was fired from his position in 2013. Miller is confirmed as Beth Ailes, wife to former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, who’ll be played in this new series by Russell Crowe.

It’s an interesting move for MacFarlane, who currently serves as the creator and executive producer of two different Fox shows, “Family Guy” and “The Orville.” Aside from “The Orville,” MacFarlane’s last on-screen role was as British racecar driver Max Chilblain in last year’s Steven Soderbergh film “Logan Lucky.”

The series has also found its Rupert Murdoch in Simon McBurney, best known for playing British intelligence officials of suspect motivation in both “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” and the “Mission: Impossible” franchise. Annabelle Wallis will play former Fox News staffer Laurie Luhn.

The eight-part series, which still has not made public an official title, is a joint venture between Showtime and the ever-expanding Blumhouse Television. Friday’s announcement did reveal that the project will commence production next month.

Seth MacFarlane, Sienna Miller, Simon McBurney & Annabelle Wallis Join Showtime’s Roger Ailes Limited Series

Seth MacFarlane (The Orville) Sienna Miller (Live By Night), Simon McBurney (The Theory of Everything) and Annabelle Wallis (Peaky Blinders, The Mummy) are set to star opposite Russell Crowe and Naomi Watts in Showtime’s upcoming eight-episode li…

Seth MacFarlane (The Orville) Sienna Miller (Live By Night), Simon McBurney (The Theory of Everything) and Annabelle Wallis (Peaky Blinders, The Mummy) are set to star opposite Russell Crowe and Naomi Watts in Showtime’s upcoming eight-episode limited series about Fox News founder Roger Ailes, played by Crowe. All four will play key figures in the Ailes real-life saga: MacFarlane will portray Ailes’ confidante Brian Lewis, McBurney will play Fox head Rupert Murdoch…

The Reasons Behind Annapurna’s Tumultuous Week

The news yesterday about Annapurna shockingly pulling out of two projects –Jay Roach’s untitled Roger Ailes movie and the Jennifer Lopez Hustlers at Scores feature– in addition to its head of production Chelsea Barnard exiting, has ra…

The news yesterday about Annapurna shockingly pulling out of two projects –Jay Roach’s untitled Roger Ailes movie and the Jennifer Lopez Hustlers at Scores feature– in addition to its head of production Chelsea Barnard exiting, has raised serious questions in Hollywood about the independent studio’s financial livelihood moving forward. Barnard’s departure follows roughly four months after the Megan Ellison-run company lost its CFO Josh Small and President Marc Weinstock

Annapurna Upheaval: Megan Ellison Is ‘Reevaluating’ Film Division Amid Money Woes

Annapurna Pictures, the boutique film and TV studio started by Oracle scion Megan Ellison, has run into financial difficulties that on Tuesday resulted in the exit of its film division head and the jettisoning of two upcoming films with marquee talent, multiple individuals told TheWrap.

Ellison is “reevaluating” the studio’s film division and is expected to take a more active role in day-to-day development and production after a rocky 18 months that included Kathryn Bigelow’s “Detroit” and the modest indie hit “Sorry to Bother You,” one insider said.

According to at least two individuals close to Annapurna, Ellison’s father, Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, is balking at any further investment in the studio after an initial outlay by him and his daughter of more than $200 million.

“These are unfounded rumors. Everything is business as usual,” a spokesperson for Annapurna told TheWrap. Larry Ellison did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Also Read: Annapurna Film President Chelsea Barnard Departs Company

The new developments, including Chelsea Barnard’s exit as president of film, come at least three months after the departure of company president Marc Weinstock and CFO Josh Small. Many in Hollywood considered their sudden exits a warning sign of internal troubles.

The studio has produced or co-produced many prestige projects that have won accolades — from Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master” to Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty” to David O. Russell’s “American Hustle” — but insiders say that Ellison has overspent on many of them.

The challenges have been exacerbated by Annapurna’s decision to launch its own distribution division last year instead of working with the majors as co-producers and distribution partners and spreading the risk.

“Detroit,” a prestige 2017 project by Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow, cost $40 million, but made only $16 million at the box office and lost the company tens of millions of dollars after a major marketing spend, according to two knowledgeable individuals.

Also Read: Jennifer Lopez’s ‘The Hustlers at Scores’ in Talks to Move to STX Entertainment After Exiting Annapurna

The Western drama “The Sisters Brothers,” starring John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix, was released last month and has so far taken in just $730,000, according to boxofficemojo.com. A knowledgeable individual said the film cost $38 million to produce and Annapurna paid a significant fraction of that for the U.S. rights, not including marketing costs.

The studio’s anticipated December release “Vice,” about Dick Cheney, cost a bloated $60 million to produce. Knowledgeable sources said the movie should have been made for half that amount. The studio declined to comment on the budget.

“There is a financial issue going on,” an individual with knowledge of the studio told TheWrap. “Her dad has put a lot of money into the company and I don’t think he wants to support her behavior and what’s been going on. There are restraints — the money is not flowing.”

Also Read: Fox News Film Focused on Roger Ailes Scandal Dropped by Annapurna

On Tuesday, the company abruptly unloaded a star-studded Jay Roach movie about Fox News founder Roger Ailes and that was three weeks away from starting production, as well as Jennifer Lopez’s “The Hustlers at Scores,” the latter picked up by STX Films.

An insider told TheWrap that there were budget issues involving the Roger Ailes film, but another individual with knowledge of the project said that the company had approved a $35 million budget just one week ago. The film, which Canadian-based Bron Studios is expected to co-finance, will star John Lithgow as Ailes as well as Charlize Theron and Margot Robbie.

One insider familiar with Annapurna’s operations said that Ellison is focused on making passion projects without regard to the cost.

“She makes bad decisions,” the individual said. “She wanted to chase all these expensive movies that weren’t going to make money, and she said, ‘I don’t care whether they make money.’ That’s not how you run a company.”

Also Read: Annapurna’s Josh Small Tapped as New Blumhouse CFO

Annapurna got into distribution in January of 2017 — at the time, the company was planning to become a full-fledged studio after six years focused solely on production.

Weinstock and Small departed over the summer, the latter to join Jason Blum’s Blumhouse. An insider said, “When the president and CFO leave at the same time… it’s not a good sign of what’s ahead.”

Another Annapurna insider insisted that the company didn’t have financial troubles and that Ellison is confident about her marketing and distribution teams despite an acknowledgement that the film division wasn’t working.

“I don’t think she’s going to shut down production,” the first insider said. “She’s going to slope it way back down.”

One bright spot in Annapurna’s future is the marketing and distribution deal announced earlier this year with MGM, which includes the North American rights to the eagerly awaited “Bond 25.”

Also Read: Annapurna Pictures Parts Ways With President Marc Weinstock

In recent months, a number of indie film companies have either closed their doors or struggled to distribute films. Global Road filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday after Donald Tang struggled to raise enough capital to stay afloat.

Relativity Media filed for its second bankruptcy in May, and many of the films were up for grabs when the company first went under.

STX has seen executive turnover and box office troubles this year: “The Happytime Murders” opened to a dismal $10 million, following underachievers such as Mark Walhberg’s “Mile 22,” which has pulled in $25 million domestically on a $50 million budget, and “Adrift,” which earned a modest $31 million on a $35 million budget.

Sharon Waxman contributed reporting to this story.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Fox News Film Focused on Roger Ailes Scandal Dropped by Annapurna

Annapurna’s Josh Small Tapped as New Blumhouse CFO

Annapurna Pictures Parts Ways With President Marc Weinstock

Annapurna Pictures, the boutique film and TV studio started by Oracle scion Megan Ellison, has run into financial difficulties that on Tuesday resulted in the exit of its film division head and the jettisoning of two upcoming films with marquee talent, multiple individuals told TheWrap.

Ellison is “reevaluating” the studio’s film division and is expected to take a more active role in day-to-day development and production after a rocky 18 months that included Kathryn Bigelow’s “Detroit” and the modest indie hit “Sorry to Bother You,” one insider said.

According to at least two individuals close to Annapurna, Ellison’s father, Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, is balking at any further investment in the studio after an initial outlay by him and his daughter of more than $200 million.

“These are unfounded rumors. Everything is business as usual,” a spokesperson for Annapurna told TheWrap. Larry Ellison did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The new developments, including Chelsea Barnard’s exit as president of film, come at least three months after the departure of company president Marc Weinstock and CFO Josh Small. Many in Hollywood considered their sudden exits a warning sign of internal troubles.

The studio has produced or co-produced many prestige projects that have won accolades — from Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master” to Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty” to David O. Russell’s “American Hustle” — but insiders say that Ellison has overspent on many of them.

The challenges have been exacerbated by Annapurna’s decision to launch its own distribution division last year instead of working with the majors as co-producers and distribution partners and spreading the risk.

“Detroit,” a prestige 2017 project by Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow, cost $40 million, but made only $16 million at the box office and lost the company tens of millions of dollars after a major marketing spend, according to two knowledgeable individuals.

The Western drama “The Sisters Brothers,” starring John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix, was released last month and has so far taken in just $730,000, according to boxofficemojo.com. A knowledgeable individual said the film cost $38 million to produce and Annapurna paid a significant fraction of that for the U.S. rights, not including marketing costs.

The studio’s anticipated December release “Vice,” about Dick Cheney, cost a bloated $60 million to produce. Knowledgeable sources said the movie should have been made for half that amount. The studio declined to comment on the budget.

“There is a financial issue going on,” an individual with knowledge of the studio told TheWrap. “Her dad has put a lot of money into the company and I don’t think he wants to support her behavior and what’s been going on. There are restraints — the money is not flowing.”

On Tuesday, the company abruptly unloaded a star-studded Jay Roach movie about Fox News founder Roger Ailes and that was three weeks away from starting production, as well as Jennifer Lopez’s “The Hustlers at Scores,” the latter picked up by STX Films.

An insider told TheWrap that there were budget issues involving the Roger Ailes film, but another individual with knowledge of the project said that the company had approved a $35 million budget just one week ago. The film, which Canadian-based Bron Studios is expected to co-finance, will star John Lithgow as Ailes as well as Charlize Theron and Margot Robbie.

One insider familiar with Annapurna’s operations said that Ellison is focused on making passion projects without regard to the cost.

“She makes bad decisions,” the individual said. “She wanted to chase all these expensive movies that weren’t going to make money, and she said, ‘I don’t care whether they make money.’ That’s not how you run a company.”

Annapurna got into distribution in January of 2017 — at the time, the company was planning to become a full-fledged studio after six years focused solely on production.

Weinstock and Small departed over the summer, the latter to join Jason Blum’s Blumhouse. An insider said, “When the president and CFO leave at the same time… it’s not a good sign of what’s ahead.”

Another Annapurna insider insisted that the company didn’t have financial troubles and that Ellison is confident about her marketing and distribution teams despite an acknowledgement that the film division wasn’t working.

“I don’t think she’s going to shut down production,” the first insider said. “She’s going to slope it way back down.”

One bright spot in Annapurna’s future is the marketing and distribution deal announced earlier this year with MGM, which includes the North American rights to the eagerly awaited “Bond 25.”

In recent months, a number of indie film companies have either closed their doors or struggled to distribute films. Global Road filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday after Donald Tang struggled to raise enough capital to stay afloat.

Relativity Media filed for its second bankruptcy in May, and many of the films were up for grabs when the company first went under.

STX has seen executive turnover and box office troubles this year: “The Happytime Murders” opened to a dismal $10 million, following underachievers such as Mark Walhberg’s “Mile 22,” which has pulled in $25 million domestically on a $50 million budget, and “Adrift,” which earned a modest $31 million on a $35 million budget.

Sharon Waxman contributed reporting to this story.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Fox News Film Focused on Roger Ailes Scandal Dropped by Annapurna

Annapurna's Josh Small Tapped as New Blumhouse CFO

Annapurna Pictures Parts Ways With President Marc Weinstock