Entertainment

True to Form, the Rob Ford Movie Is Already Generating Controversy

By Lucas Oleniuk/Toronto Star/Getty Images.

For years, Rob Ford’s name was synonymous with scandal. The politician, who died in 2016, was the mayor of Toronto from 2010 to 2014, and was regularly embroiled in controversy, from public intoxication, to once being recorded smoking crack cocaine. Now, true to form, an upcoming movie that will revolve around his mayoral years is quickly generating controversy of its own.

On Tuesday, it was reported that British star Damian Lewis will portray Ford in the upcoming drama Run This Town, undergoing prosthetic treatment that will transform him into the Toronto figure. While cinephiles out there might feel compelled to litigate or vigorously defend this casting decision, that’s not even the controversy at hand. The plot revolves around a reporter, played by Ben Platt, who follows the ups and downs of Ford’s political reign, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Reporter Robyn Doolittle has stirred up a debate about Platt’s role, however, accusing the film of erasing her from the narrative. Doolittle was a key journalist during Ford’s term in office, and one of three reporters who saw firsthand and reported on the video of the mayor smoking crack cocaine (the other two reporters were Gawker‘s John Cook and Doolittle’s colleague, Kevin Donovan).

“I’m glad they’re rewriting the fact that it was a female reporter who investigated Rob Ford,” Doolittle tweeted on Tuesday. “Why have a woman be a lead character when a man could do it? Ammaright?”

Her tweet quickly went viral. She followed it up with another tweet, adding that she wasn’t placing the blame on Platt: “Not begrudging @BenSPLATT (!) – just about the move in general: obviously I’m biased, but man, I’ve seen a lot of stories by male reporters celebrated in movies…”

Platt responded with a lengthy statement about the film, saying his role is a fictional reporter at a fictional publication and is in no way based on Doolittle. “That in and of itself is an incredibly worthy and fascinating story,” he said of Doolittle’s reporting, “but it’s not the one we are telling, nor would I ever agree to be a part of a film that would attribute the accomplishments of a remarkable woman to a fictional man.”

Doolittle did not respond to Platt’s statement, noting in a later tweet that she was not responding to reporters’s requests for comment because she “is on maternity leave and gotta put down the electronics.” However, she later responded to a tweet from talk-show host Iain Grant, who asked “in all fairness, didn’t both you and @_kevindonovan work on the story together, at least to the point where you both saw the video, and wrote about the fiasco, along with many other male investigative reporters across Canada, not just Toronto?”

Doolittle responded by saying she never suggested she was the only reporter working on the story, and she “went to great lengths in Crazy Town to give credit to colleagues at my own paper and competitors.” However, her reporting on Ford’s substance-abuse issues “began more than 1.5 yrs before the crack story.”

Writer-director Ricky Tollman told the Toronto Star that Ford will ultimately be a smaller part in the film, which is more about Platt’s character. The plot will also revolve around two aides (played by Nina Dobrev and Mena Massoud), who try to keep Ford’s scandals out of the spotlight.

Though Ford’s controversies were larger than life and certainly dominated his political narrative, Tollman says he’s aiming to paint a “sympathetic portrait” of the late politician. “Rob isn’t just a caricature, he’s a person and he’s a human,” Tollman said. “He cared very deeply about the city he was the mayor of. And this was a guy with demons.”

He also reiterated Platt’s statement, saying Run This Town isn’t based on any of the reporters who covered Ford in real life. “It was a surprise to me (that) people took three words out of the description of the film and spun it into something that it’s not, without having read the script,” he said in an interview with the Globe and Mail.

Ford died in 2016 after an 18-month battle with cancer. He was 46 years old. Run This Town, which will be Tollman’s feature directorial debut, is currently filming in Toronto and does not yet have a set release date.

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Full ScreenPhotos: Celebrities-Turned-Activists Throughout the Years
Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn

In 1989, Hepburn—who survived World War II in the Netherlands as a child—was appointed as an ambassador to UNICEF, and, as the organization mentions on its Web site, she made up to 15 speeches a day for the group on behalf of children in need around the world. In a 1988 Global News interview, Hepburn, who lived in Switzerland and out of the public eye, said that she didn’t have to think hard to take on this role to be an advocate for children. “I’m moving around the world once again, but I’m happy to do it, because for children, I’d go to the moon.”

Photo: By Peter Charlesworth/LightRocket/Getty Images.

Jane Fonda

Jane Fonda

Fonda was a vocal anti-war activist during the Vietnam War, sparking controversy with her infamous “Hanoi Jane” photograph. Since then, Fonda has been known for supporting and championing dozens of causes, including the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power & Potential, for which she raised money at her big 80th birthday bash this past December. “If it didn’t make a difference for famous people to speak out, the right wing wouldn’t object. We are like repeaters,” she told Vanity Fair then. “Repeaters are the towers that you see at the top of mountains that pick up signals from the valley and carry them over the mountains to a broader audience. And that’s what celebrities do, if we’re doing our job right. We’re picking up the voices of people who can’t be heard and broadcasting their story.”

Photo: From Bettmann/Getty Images.

Harry Belafonte

Harry Belafonte

The actor and singer, and friend of both Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy, has spoken up for civil rights and social causes for over 50 years. He helped organize the march at Selma in 1965, and even advised the organizers of the 2017 Women’s March. Now at the age of 91, he is encouraging Americans to keep their chins up in the Trump era. “I guess the thing that I most want to get to is that the best of us is still in front of us; the worst of us we’re experiencing,” he said at the Robert F. Kennedy Ripple of Hope Awards last December.

Photo: From Bettmann/Getty Images.

Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor

When the Reagan administration did its best to ignore the AIDS crisis of the early 1980s, Taylor faced it. As Vanity Fair wrote in 2015, she reportedly ran an underground pharmaceuticals ring for AIDS medication out of her Bel Air mansion. “She was saving lives,” her friend Kathy Ireland said of the efforts. In 1991, she founded the Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation (E.T.A.F.) to provide grants to organizations that help those living with and affected by HIV and AIDS. Taylor was also a leading voice behind AmfAR, the foundation for AIDS research, and is still remembered as an advocate for the cause.

Photo: By Jeffrey Markowitz/Sygma/Getty Images.

Mark Ruffalo

Mark Ruffalo

In 2011, Ruffalo founded Water Defense, an organization that works to ban hydraulic fracturing in the state of New York. “Fracking is an extreme form of oil and gas extraction that leads to water contamination, air pollution, earthquakes, illness, exacerbates climate change, and turns communities upside down,” he wrote on the blog EcoWatch in 2016.

Photo: By D Dipasupil/Getty Images.

Ellen Page

Ellen Page

After Page came out as gay in 2014, she became an active and vocal advocate for the L.G.B.T.Q. community, through Vice’s Gaycation series, as well as a loud voice for immigrants. At LAX last year, she posted videos during a protest of President Trump’s travel ban and was right up in the thick of things. “I am young, yes, but what I have learned is that love, the beauty of it, the joy of it, and yes, even the pain of it, is the most incredible gift to give and to receive as a human being,” she said during her coming-out speech. “And we deserve to experience love fully, equally, without shame and without compromise.”

Photo: By Kristina Bumphrey/StarPix/REX/Shutterstock.

George and Amal Clooney

George and Amal Clooney

The Clooney Foundation for Justice has supported a variety of causes in the past year, including bestowing a grant to the Southern Poverty Law Center following violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last summer. The Clooneys most recently joined the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., and donated half a million dollars to the cause.

Photo: Photograph by Justin Bishop.

Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn

In 1989, Hepburn—who survived World War II in the Netherlands as a child—was appointed as an ambassador to UNICEF, and, as the organization mentions on its Web site, she made up to 15 speeches a day for the group on behalf of children in need around the world. In a 1988 Global News interview, Hepburn, who lived in Switzerland and out of the public eye, said that she didn’t have to think hard to take on this role to be an advocate for children. “I’m moving around the world once again, but I’m happy to do it, because for children, I’d go to the moon.”

By Peter Charlesworth/LightRocket/Getty Images.

Jane Fonda

Jane Fonda

Fonda was a vocal anti-war activist during the Vietnam War, sparking controversy with her infamous “Hanoi Jane” photograph. Since then, Fonda has been known for supporting and championing dozens of causes, including the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power & Potential, for which she raised money at her big 80th birthday bash this past December. “If it didn’t make a difference for famous people to speak out, the right wing wouldn’t object. We are like repeaters,” she told Vanity Fair then. “Repeaters are the towers that you see at the top of mountains that pick up signals from the valley and carry them over the mountains to a broader audience. And that’s what celebrities do, if we’re doing our job right. We’re picking up the voices of people who can’t be heard and broadcasting their story.”

From Bettmann/Getty Images.

Harry Belafonte

Harry Belafonte

The actor and singer, and friend of both Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy, has spoken up for civil rights and social causes for over 50 years. He helped organize the march at Selma in 1965, and even advised the organizers of the 2017 Women’s March. Now at the age of 91, he is encouraging Americans to keep their chins up in the Trump era. “I guess the thing that I most want to get to is that the best of us is still in front of us; the worst of us we’re experiencing,” he said at the Robert F. Kennedy Ripple of Hope Awards last December.

From Bettmann/Getty Images.

Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor

When the Reagan administration did its best to ignore the AIDS crisis of the early 1980s, Taylor faced it. As Vanity Fair wrote in 2015, she reportedly ran an underground pharmaceuticals ring for AIDS medication out of her Bel Air mansion. “She was saving lives,” her friend Kathy Ireland said of the efforts. In 1991, she founded the Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation (E.T.A.F.) to provide grants to organizations that help those living with and affected by HIV and AIDS. Taylor was also a leading voice behind AmfAR, the foundation for AIDS research, and is still remembered as an advocate for the cause.

By Jeffrey Markowitz/Sygma/Getty Images.

Bono

Bono

In 2016, Bono made Fortune’s list of “World’s Greatest Leaders”—and it wasn’t the first time. He founded the (RED) project with Bobby Shriver in 2006, which was a continuation of his work on DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa), to help raise awareness of AIDS and AIDS relief in Africa.

By Don Arnold/Getty Images.

Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie

Since 2001, Jolie has worked with people in need in more than 30 countries, going on missions on behalf of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and even combining her advocacy with her filmmaking, as with her 2017 film, First They Killed My Father. Last year, she spoke in Geneva at the Sergio Vieira de Mello Foundation, where she left audience members with the message to “keep working determinedly and patiently” for change.

By Tom Stoddart/Getty Images.

Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio

DiCaprio has long been one of the famous environmentalists in Hollywood. He has the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, which he founded in 1998 and which focuses on a variety of climate and indigenous-rights issues. The Academy Award winner has even brought his Titanic pals into the environmental-activist mix. Both Kate Winslet and Billy Zane attended the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation’s annual auction in St. Tropez, France, in 2017. “Gang’s back together. Now we’re saving icebergs. Go figure . . .” Zane wrote.

From Getty Images.

Ashley Judd

Ashley Judd

Judd has been an ambassador for Population Services International (P.S.I.), which works on encouraging healthy behavior and the affordability of health products across the globe. Over the years, she has visited several areas that P.S.I. targets, including Thailand, Cambodia, and South Africa. Judd has elevated her voice as a political activist in recent years, both at the 2017 Women’s March and as part of the #MeToo movement, having spoken up about her alleged abuse at the hands of Harvey Weinstein. She also considered challenging Mitch McConnell for his Senate seat in Kentucky in 2013, which really opens up a whole world of “what if?”

By SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images.

America Ferrera

America Ferrera

When she helped open the Women’s March last January, Ferrera spoke about the importance of the resistance to the Trump administration. “We are gathered here and across the country and around the world today to say, ‘Mr. Trump, we refuse. We reject the demonization of our Muslim brothers and sisters,’” she said. Her organization, Harness, which she helped start after the 2016 election, helps bring together grassroots leaders in various communities to continue to make change and have important conversations about social issues in this political era.

By Theo Wargo/Getty Images.

Mark Ruffalo

Mark Ruffalo

In 2011, Ruffalo founded Water Defense, an organization that works to ban hydraulic fracturing in the state of New York. “Fracking is an extreme form of oil and gas extraction that leads to water contamination, air pollution, earthquakes, illness, exacerbates climate change, and turns communities upside down,” he wrote on the blog EcoWatch in 2016.

By D Dipasupil/Getty Images.

Ellen Page

Ellen Page

After Page came out as gay in 2014, she became an active and vocal advocate for the L.G.B.T.Q. community, through Vice’s Gaycation series, as well as a loud voice for immigrants. At LAX last year, she posted videos during a protest of President Trump’s travel ban and was right up in the thick of things. “I am young, yes, but what I have learned is that love, the beauty of it, the joy of it, and yes, even the pain of it, is the most incredible gift to give and to receive as a human being,” she said during her coming-out speech. “And we deserve to experience love fully, equally, without shame and without compromise.”

By Kristina Bumphrey/StarPix/REX/Shutterstock.

George and Amal Clooney

George and Amal Clooney

The Clooney Foundation for Justice has supported a variety of causes in the past year, including bestowing a grant to the Southern Poverty Law Center following violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last summer. The Clooneys most recently joined the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., and donated half a million dollars to the cause.

Photograph by Justin Bishop.

~Source reference~