1. Some journalists involved in the lengthy newspaper phone-hacking scandal and resulting trial joked about who would play them in a film version. They will soon find out.
Sony Pictures announced last night that George Clooney will direct a film based on Nick Davies’ book on the scandal, Hack Attack, which will start shooting next year under the same name.
Michael De Luca, president of production for Sony subsidiary Colombia Pictures, said in a press release: “As the son of a journalist, George has a sharp interest in the role journalism plays in all of our lives – whether that’s for good, as in Good Night, and Good Luck., or for bad.
“With Hack Attack, George will explore the dark side of that world, a business where all of the rules of journalism are broken in the race for an easy and ever-larger payday.”
Clooney said in the same release: “This has all the elements – lying, corruption, blackmail – at the highest levels of government by the biggest newspaper in London. And the fact that it’s true is the best part. Nick is a brave and stubborn reporter and we consider it an honour to put his book to film.”
2. Davies is the investigative reporter for The Guardian who blew open the phone-hacking scandal in 2011 by reporting that staff at News of the World had accessed the voicemail of the murdered schoolgirl, Milly Dowler.
This put in motion a chain of events that saw Rupert Murdoch close the News of the World and the police make a series of arrests that led to one of the longest and most complex criminal trials in UK history. Former NOTW editor and Conservative party communications director Andy Coulson was sentenced to 18 months for his part in intercepting voicemails, and there were several other convictions.
There are more potential convictions of journalists and payouts to victims of phone-hacking to come.
Davies’ book – subtitled “How the truth caught up with Rupert Murdoch” – focuses on attempts to cover up the scandal by publisher News International.
The film is a vindication of his work on the story, which began in 2007 when NOTW royal editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were found guilty of hacking phones. Back then, the scandal was dismissed as just the work of one “rogue reporter”.
3. As a vocal critic of the excesses of tabloid journalism and the son of a journalist, Clooney is an obvious choice to make this film.
In July this year, he wrote an opinion piece excoriating the Daily Mail for a false report alleging that the mother of his fiancée was unhappy at their forthcoming marriage.
The Mail later removed the article from its website and issued a rare apology.