Two of Australia’s A-list actors are teaming up for a film exploring the sexual harassment scandal at the conservative Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox News.
Margot Robbie is in talks to co-star with the already-signed Nicole Kidman in the film about the workplace improprieties during former Fox chief Roger Ailes’ 20-year reign, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Previously described as an Ailes biopic, the movie is actually the story of “the women who took on the toxic male culture of Fox News and helped depose its chief architect”, Deadline said.
Leading lady Kidman, 51, will play the pivotal role of former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, who in 2016 accused chairman and CEO Ailes of sexual harassment.
The real Carlson, 52, shared the news on Wednesday (US time) of Kidman’s casting with her more than 100,000 Twitter followers.
“I hope the true story is depicted,” she said.
As the first person to take the risk – it also means I can’t share all of the details of what really happened, so I hope the true story is depicted. The most important thing is that so many more women are now believed and have been given a voice. #BeFierce #StopSexualHarassment https://t.co/S2ZyjruC66
— Gretchen Carlson (@GretchenCarlson) August 1, 2018
The TV commentator and author’s announcement drew a mixed response – mostly jokey in tone – to Kidman’s casting.
Users were concerned the 180-centimetre tall Sydney star is physically not the right match for 160-centimetre Carlson – with one even suggesting Robbie would be a better choice.
The role reportedly earmarked for Robbie, 28, who was Oscar nominated this year for I Am Tonya, is that of a yet-to-be identified associate producer at the network.
Adding more casting gravitas, Atomic Blonde’s Charlize Theron, 42, will co-produce the movie and play Megyn Kelly, another former Fox News anchor to accuse Ailes of sexual harassment.
Carlson filed a bombshell lawsuit against the media chief in July 2016, alleging he had harassed her during her time at the network and enabled a hostile work environment.
The 1989 Miss America alleged she was fired from Fox after refusing Ailes’ sexual advances.
She said that in one meeting, Ailes asked her to “turn around so he could view her posterior, commented repeatedly about her legs, and instructed her to wear certain outfits that he claimed enhanced her figure”.
Her whistle-blowing led to dozens more women accusing Ailes of improprieties ranging from unwanted groping to decades of “psychological torture”.
An internal review into the allegations led to a wider investigation of Ailes’ two decades at the helm of the news operation.
A former media consultant to Republican presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, Ailes resigned from Fox News in the wake of the 2016 sexual harassment allegations.
He died a year later.
The working title for the film is Fair and Balanced – a play on the former Fox News channel motto, which was replaced last year by ‘Most Watched, Most Trusted’.
It will be directed by Jay Roach, best known for the Austin Powers films, and written by The Big Short screenwriter Charles Randolph.
Annapurna Pictures, the company headed by Zero Dark Thirty and American Hustle producer Megan Ellison, is producing the film.
In an another Australian link, Mr Murdoch may be one of the prominent Fox News figures included in the ensemble project, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Another local star, actor Russell Crowe, is to play Ailes in Showtime’s eight-episode series about the disgraced network chairman.