20th Century Fox has decided not to move forward with its untitled Patty Hearst biopic after Hearst blasted the James Mangold-directed project, saying it romanticizes her abduction and subsequent rape and torture.
“Twentieth Century Fox Film and its production partners have decided to cancel the studio’s planned project based on the book American Heiress,” the studio said in a statement.
Elle Fanning and Yahya Abdul-Mateen had been slated to star in the film as Hearst and SLA leader Donald DeFreeze, aka Cinque.
The film was to be based on Jeffrey Toobin’s unauthorized book American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst. It’s possible that Disney’s recent deal to purchase the Fox movie studio played a part in the decision, as the Mouse House prefers to avoid this kind of negative publicity, especially when it’s being generated by a survivor of rape in the middle of the #MeToo movement.
Hearst said she was “saddened and appalled that Fox 2000 agreed to finance and produce a movie based on Toobin’s book… I refuse to give Jeffrey Toobin, 21st Century Fox, CNN or anyone else involved in these projects about my life the power to make me a victim again, or the power to provide a platform where victim blaming is ok.”
Hearst was kidnapped in 1974 by the Symbionese Liberation Army, only to re-emerge as a member of the left-wing terrorist group after being caught on camera participating in an armed bank robbery. The heiress claimed she was brainwashed, but she was still arrested, and her subsequent trial led to a media frenzy and ended with Hearst serving 22 months in prison.
Toobin remains involved in CNN’s six-part original series The Radical Story of Patty Hearst, which is still slated to air on Feb. 11. The series will be preceded by a weekly podcast co-hosted by Toobin and CNN’s Brian Stelter that will be available on iTunes starting Jan. 26.
With the Patty Hearst movie dead at Fox, it’s unclear where Mangold will direct his focus, but we’d love to see him get serious about making The Force, based on the excellent cop novel by Don Winslow. The director’s last film, Logan, was one of the best movies of 2017.
Jeff Sneider | Editor in Chief