Amusing News

Casting the Murdoch Movie

Who would play who in a film about the current phone-hacking scandal?

It’s obvious that this story deserves better than some wishy-washy one-off BBC2 drama, so how about reuniting the creative team behind The Social Network?

But once the triumvirate of producer Scott Rudin, director David Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin have been hired, who should be cast in this complex web of media, government and police?

Below are some suggestions:

(N.B. If you want to know who the people are just Google them)

> More on the News International phone hacking scandal at Wikipedia
> BBC News, The Guardian and New York Times with further coverage

News Viral Video

Murdoch Downfall

If someone told me seven days ago that the best-selling newspaper in the world was about to be shut down, I’d have dismissed the notion as a bizarre fantasy.

But this week, the long-running phone hacking scandal surrounding the News of the World exploded, forcing owner Rupert Murdoch to close his long-running Sunday tabloid.

Revelations that the newspaper targeted the mobile phones of teenage murder victims, relatives of dead soldiers and victims of the 7/7 bombings triggered widespread public and political outrage.

Apparently, even worse revelations are reportedly to come.

Bizarrely actor Hugh Grant had been ahead of much of the UK press, when he uncovered the sordid details with an investigative piece for the New Statesman.

His recent appearence on the BBC News channel challenging former tabloid hack Paul McMullan went viral.

But you know a scandal has truly taken hold when someone makes a Downfall parody about it.

YouTube mashups involving the 2004 film about Hitler’s final days have become an internet meme used to parody prominent figures or organisations brought low by topical events.

One scene in particular, in which Hitler (played by Bruno Ganz) realises that the war is essentially lost, has been re-subtitled countless times to fit a bewildering number of topics.

But now someone has ingeniousy re-cut other sequences from the film so that they fit with the News of the World phone hacking affair.

If you are unfamiliar with what’s been going on, just read the Wikipedia entry handily titled “News of the World phone hacking affair” to familiarise yourself with the details.

Then watch how Rupert Murdoch, Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson are weaved into this video:

Incidentally, Downfall director Oliver Hirschbiegel said last year that he not only finds all these parodies funny but that they actually serve to make a wider point:

“The point of the film was to kick these terrible people off the throne that made them demons, making them real and their actions into reality. I think it’s only fair if now it’s taken as part of our history, and used for whatever purposes people like.”

> The News of the World phone hacking affair at Wikipedia
> The Hugh Grant Tapes and his recent BBC appearences
> Recent stories by Nick Davies at The Guardian (the journalist who has led the way on this story)


Rupert Murdoch on The King’s Speech

Wall Street Journal film critic Joe Morgenstern has revealed that Lionel Logue helped cure Rupert Murdoch’s father of his stutter.

At the end of his most recent column, he writes about a recent conversation with his media mogul boss who asked him what he should see:

“With ‘The King’s Speech’ gaining the Oscar traction it deserves—the latest boost being an expression of approval from Queen Elizabeth—I can’t resist going public with a story that I’ve relished telling to friends, and to the people who made the movie. Several weeks before it opened, I had a conversation with Rupert Murdoch, who popped a question familiar to movie critics: What should he see?

I suggested “The King’s Speech,” and, not wanting to spoil it with too many details, gave a shorthand description: Colin Firth as King George VI, who has a terrible stutter, and Geoffrey Rush as a raffish Australian speech therapist.

Yes, he replied, Lionel Logue.

“So you know the story.”

Not the story of the movie, he said. “Lionel Logue saved my father’s life.”

When I responded with speechlessness, he explained that his father, as a young man, wanted passionately to be a newspaper reporter, but couldn’t interview people because he stuttered. Then he met Lionel Logue, who cured him in less than a year”

This is not the first time Keith Murdoch has been directly connected with a film.

After beginning his career in journalism with The Age in Melbourne he made a name for himself covering the Gallipoli campaign in Turkey, a military fiasco which was brought to the screen as Peter Weir’s Gallipoli (1981).

His son Rupert was by then a powerful newspaper owner and helped produce the film before going on to buy Twentieth Century Fox in 1985.

> Rupert Murdoch, Keith Murdoch and Lionel Logue at Wikipedia
> Gallipoli at IMDb
> Joe Morgenstern’s piece at the WSJ
> The King’s Speech LFF review

Interesting News Technology

Rupert Murdoch at All Things Digital

Rupert Murdoch was interviewed at the All Things Digital conference yesterday by Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher.

The News Corporation boss made some revealing comments about technology, the media and US politics.

Here is the video and some key quotes:

On movies and the future of distribution:

I would love to see all windows closed …but there are lots of people’s interest to consider.

The theater owners are powerful, but we will try and move to close that gap as much as possible.

On whether newspapers have a future in a digital world:

I’m totally technically neutral – I don’t care what platform our news appears on, if it’s on printed paper, or the web or mobile or whatever.

If you look at the last 6 months, the average newspaper is down 10 to 30 per cent in advertising revenue.

They [newspapers] are going to deteriorate tremendously

On the change that is needed at the Wall Street Journal:

Every story at the moment [in the WSJ] is worked on by 8.3 people [on average]. That is ridiculous.

On MySpace:

We came to [the Internet] late. We’d been asleep.

We found they [MySpace] were like 3 days away from being bought by Viacom, so we said ‘what does it cost for you to lock yourself in a room with us for the weekend?’.

They said ‘an extra $50 million’ and …we came out with a company.

Facebook came in an did a brilliant job – went past us all.

On Google:

Google is so good. They’ve established the best search engine by far.

It’s gushing money and you can see exactly why Microsoft is worried.

You’ve got all these bright people at Google with unlimited ambition.

On Yahoo:

There was a possibility at one stage that we’d add to the portal.

Here is the second part:

On Hulu:

It is changing every week. We are putting more and more [content] on each week.

As far as we were concerned we want to control our own copyrights and we thought this was the way to do it.

On choosing not to sue YouTube like Viacom have done:

We had mixed feelings about it. We felt it was doing more to promote our shows than it was to hurt them.

On Fox News:

People laugh when I say fair and balanced. All it does is give both sides, which the others (media) haven’t done in the past.

On Barack Obama:

I think you’ve probably got the making of a complete phenomenon in this country.

Politicians in Washington …are despised by 80% of the public.

You’ve got a candidate who has put himself above that and said he’s not the average politician.

And he’s become a rock star – its fantastic.

On John McCain:

He’s been in Congress a long time and you’ve got to make too many compromises.

What does he really stand for?

He’s a very decent guy. I say this sympathetically [but] I think he’s got a lot of problems.

On Apple:

They are brilliant marketers and beautiful designers.

On the recession:

The average family is [being] squeezed to death.

On the energy crisis:

I’d let people drill off the west coast. We didn’t buy Alaska to save a couple of elk.

You can read more detailed notes on the interview at the AllThingsD website here.

> All Things Digital conference
> Find out more about Rupert Murdoch at Wikipedia