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LOS ANGELES, March 7, (Agencies): Hollywood dream team Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep are considering taking on some classified government documents in a feature film about the Pentagon Papers case. A source close to the project who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly said Monday that Spielberg has signed on to direct “The Post,” a co-production from Fox and Amblin Entertainment. Based on a script by Liz Hannah, the film will focus on The Washington Post’s 1971 publication of the classified Vietnam War study after a federal judge barred the New York Times from further coverage.
The Times had previously published a series of articles from the critical report after military analyst Daniel Ellsberg leaked the top secret documents. In defiance of the government’s efforts to block coverage on grounds of national security concerns, Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham joined forces with the New York Times in a legal battle over their right to publish.
The case went to the Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the press. According to a report by the Hollywood trade publication Deadline, Hanks is in talks to play Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee — which would mark his fifth outing with Spielberg — and Streep is in negotiations for the part of Graham. Not unlike Graham, Streep recently has established herself as a powerful voice in support of the press and in opposition to the current administration.
In a speech at the Golden Globe Awards in January, Streep passionately defended the freedom of the press to “hold power to account” and urged audiences to support the Committee to Protect Journalists. Reps for Spielberg, Streep and Hanks did not immediately respond to request for comment. Amy Pascal’s Pascal Pictures purchased the spec by Liz Hannah last fall, with Pascal on board to produce along with Spielberg and Kristie Macosko Krieger. Rachel O’Connor will be executive producer along with Star Thrower Entertainment’s Tim and Trevor White, and Adam Somner.
The film will be co-financed by Fox and Amblin Entertainment. Fox will handle domestic distribution; international will be Amblin, through its output deals with Universal, eOne, Reliance, and others. The Pentagon Papers made headlines prior to article’s publication when the Post’s editor Ben Bradlee and publisher Kay Graham challenged the federal government over their right to publish them. Hanks would play Bradlee and Streep would play Graham.
Both actors, who are repped by CAA, are coming off critically acclaimed roles, with Streep receiving her 20th Oscar nomination for her performance in “Florence Foster Jenkins,” and Hanks garnering high praise for “Sully.” Spielberg is currently in post-production on the Warner Bros. pic “Ready Player One” and is also in pre-production on “The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara,” which will star Mark Rylance and Oscar Isaac.
Matt Damon’s ties to the Boston Marathon are so personal they’re stained with sweat: He’s never run it himself, but his father and brother have four times. That makes the Academy Award winner and Boston native the perfect choice to narrate the first full-length documentary about the marathon, the filmmakers said Monday. Frank Marshall, the executive producer of “Boston” — which premieres in its namesake city on April 15, two days before the 121st running of America’s most venerable marathon — called Damon “the ideal narrator.” The film , directed by Jon Dunham, chronicles the rich history of the marathon first run in 1897.