LOS ANGELES (AP) — Hollywood dream team Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, and Meryl Streep are considering taking on some classified government documents in a feature film about the Papers case.
A source close to the project who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly said Monday that Spielberg has signed on to direct “The Post,” a co-production from Fox and Amblin Entertainment.
Based on a script by Liz Hannah, the film will focus on The Washington Post’s 1971 publication of the classified Vietnam War study after a federal judge barred the New York Times from further coverage. The Times had previously published a series of articles from the critical report after analyst Daniel Ellsberg leaked the top secret documents.
In defiance of the government’s efforts to block coverage on grounds of national security concerns, Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham joined forces with the New York Times in a legal battle over their right to publish. The case went to the Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the press.
According to a report by the Hollywood trade publication Deadline, Hanks is in talks to play Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee — which would mark his fifth outing with Spielberg — and Streep is in negotiations for the part of Graham.
Not unlike Graham, Streep recently has established herself as a powerful voice in support of the press and in opposition to the current administration.
In a speech at the Golden Globe Awards in January, Streep passionately defended the freedom of the press to “hold power to account” and urged audiences to support the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Reps for Spielberg, Streep and Hanks did not immediately respond to request for comment.
“The Pentagon Papers, officially titled United States – Vietnam Relations, 1945–1967: A Study Prepared by the Department of Defense, is a United States Department of Defense history of the United States’ political-military involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967. The papers were released by Daniel Ellsberg who had worked on the study, and first brought to the attention of the public on the front page of The New York Times in 1971. A 1996 article in The New York Times said that the Pentagon Papers had demonstrated, among other things, that the Johnson Administration “systematically lied, not only to the public but also to Congress.”
More specifically, the papers revealed that the U.S. had secretly enlarged the scale of the Vietnam War with the bombings of nearby Cambodia and Laos, coastal raids on North Vietnam, and Marine Corps attacks, none of which were reported in the mainstream media.
For his disclosure of the Pentagon Papers, Ellsberg was initially charged with conspiracy, espionage, and theft of government property, but the charges were later dropped after prosecutors investigating the Watergate Scandal soon discovered that the staff members in the Nixon White House had ordered the so-called White House Plumbers to engage in unlawful efforts to discredit Ellsberg.
In June 2011, the entirety of the Pentagon Papers was declassified and publicly released.” Wikipedia