Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg have seven individual Oscars and 32 nominations between them, and it seems like they'd each like to get at least one more in the bag. The power trio is teaming up for a project that couldn't be more relevant right now in the age of Trump: a film about The Washington Post's 1971 publication of the Pentagon Papers.
Sure, it's a period piece, but the major inherent themes of journalistic freedom, leaks of sensitive information, and manipulative, lying and paranoid White House administrations make it seem particularly poignant right now.
The Pentagon Papers, originally leaked to the New York Times, spelled out previously unknown facts about the Vietnam War including that President Johnson systematically lied to the American people and congress about the war and that major bombings had occurred.
At the time of their publication, President Richard Nixon had just arrived in the White House. His first instinct was to do nothing as the revelations damaged the previous Democratic Kennedy and Johnson administrations and not his own. However his then National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger convinced him that letting the press publish leaked documents set a bad reputation, so the Nixon administration went to war against the press. In the meantime, the Post also got a hand on its own copies of the report and fought back against the administration's attempt to censor their stories. The battle eventually wound up in the Supreme Court, which ruled on the side of a free press, a decision that set a perhaps-under-threat precedent for today's leak-heavy times.
All of this sets up the basic premise of the film Spielberg plans to direct. Hanks will play Post executive editor Ben Bradlee while Streep will play the Post's longtime publisher Katharine Graham. The script, currently entitled The Post, is by up-and-coming screenwriter Liz Hannah (it will be her first feature-length writing credit).
Hmm, perhaps it's not coincidentally that Streep seemed to have the cause of a free press on her mind during her Golden Globes acceptance speech during which she urged people to donate to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
The project will be the fifth team-up for Hanks and Spielberg. It will also be the first time that Hollywood's most high profile director, Spielberg, directs one of hollywood's highest profile actresses, Streep, in a leading role. The pair have only collaborated once before with Streep providing the voice of the blue fairy in Spielberg's A.I.
Somewhat amazingly, it will also be the first time that Streep and Hanks appear on screen together. Though, Hanks has previously worked with Streep as a producer for Mamma Mia!
According to Deadline, everyone's deals are still being negotiated, but it seems like something that is bound to not only get made but to rack up tons of eventual nominations as well considering the cast.
It's also worth noting that someone won an Oscar for playing Ben Bradlee before. Jason Robards took home best supporting actor for playing the legendary editor in 1976's All the President's Men, which of course famously covered the unraveling of the Watergate scandal at the hand of two Washington Post reporters, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward.
No word on when the film will actually start shooting let alone be released, but Sony Pictures is said to be making the project a priority.
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