Legendary film director Martin Scorsese is a big Bill Clinton fan. In a 2012 statement announcing his intention to film a documentary on the 42nd president, Scorsese gushed that the film would “provide greater insight into this transcendent figure.”
Two years ago, he started to follow Clinton’s globetrotting, filming the ex-president in Africa and elsewhere doing good works, and representing the Clinton Foundation.
But after two years of work, Scorsese has shelved the project because of some outrageous demands by Bill Clinton. It seems that Clinton wanted to be able to approve interview questions in advance as well as have some control over the final cut of the film. This was too much even for a Clinton worshiper like Scorsese, who not only turned Clinton down, but has shut down production for the time being.
The New York Times explains why Clinton wanted so much control:
Clearly, the film carried the risk that an unflattering camera angle, unwelcome question or even an obvious omission by Mr. Scorsese would become a blemish to Mr. Clinton’s legacy or provide fodder for Clinton critics as the 2016 campaign approaches. Apparently to avoid such problems, people close to Mr. Clinton sought to approve questions he would be asked in the film, and went so far as to demand final cut, a privilege generally reserved for directors of Mr. Scorsese’s stature.
Mr. Scorsese’s camp rejected those suggestions and the project was shelved. The film now appears to be years away from completion.
Chelsea Clinton, who left her lucrative NBC News job in August and works closely with her father, was expected to figure in the documentary in some way, and some in the Clinton circle had speculated that she would be credited as a producer. But a spokesman for Ms. Clinton said any notion that she had sought to join the production was “categorically false.”
In recent months, Mr. Clinton’s team has shown increased discipline in keeping the former president on message ahead of his wife’s likely 2016 presidential campaign. Mrs. Clinton is expected to declare her candidacy sometime this spring.
The former president is often a strong asset for his wife, but Mr. Clinton also proved to be a liability during the 2008 Democratic presidential primary when he made comments about then-Senator Barack Obama that many interpreted as racially insensitive.
Other entertainment projects with the Clinton’s as subject matter are also mostly hung up or canceled:
While “Clinton the Musical,” a stage satire focused on Clinton administration scandals, is now set for an Off Broadway run beginning in March, other Clinton-themed entertainment projects have faltered.
In the fall of 2013, CNN scrapped a documentary about Mrs. Clinton in the face of pushback from Clinton aides and the Republican National Committee; NBC dropped a planned mini-series in which Diane Lane would have portrayed her.
Also, “Rodham,” a planned feature film about the romance between a young Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham, has been struggling through Hollywood’s development process since Lionsgate acquired rights to it in 2013.
The Clintons are not shy about exercising power, as the effort to release to video the TV mini-series The Path to 9/11 illustrates. The controversial film is still not available for public viewing either via streaming or on DVD. The Walt Disney Company, parent of ABC, refuses to release the film and has never shown it since its original airing more than eight years ago.
That kind of power is not to be tampered with, as Scorsese no doubt realizes. So rather than compromise his integrity, Scorsese decided to cut his losses and shelve the film.
Even a revered director like Martin Scorsese must kneel and pay homage to the Clinton gang. Adoring them is not enough; you are required to sell your soul for them if asked.
Scorsese passed on the Faustian bargain and is a lot wiser for the effort.