'Richard Jewell' Writer Fires Back at AJC Amid Lawsuit Threats
Warner Bros. Pictures

Screenwriter Billy Ray responds to the criticisms and accuses the Atlanta Journal-Constitution of launching 'a distraction campaign' to avoid admitting to their misdeeds.

AceShowbiz - "Richard Jewell" writer Billy Ray has spoken in support of his movie amid the threat of a lawsuit from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC).

The AJC took issue with the film due to its portrayal of American journalist Kathy Scruggs, who worked for the publication and was involved in the coverage of the 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing.

Claiming the flick "veers from reality," bosses from the paper sent a letter to Warner Bros., filmmaker Clint Eastwood and screenwriter Billy Ray, demanding a disclaimer be attached to the project, after finding the notion that Scruggs' character, played by Olivia Wilde, trades sex for news tips "defamatory."

However, Billy has spoken out in response to the threat of a defamation lawsuit from the AJC, suggesting officials fear Clint Eastwood's new project will portray them negatively.

"This movie is about a hero whose life was completely destroyed by myths created by the FBI and the media, specifically the AJC," he told Deadline in a statement. "The AJC hung Richard Jewell, in public. They editorialised wildly and printed assumptions as facts. They compared him to noted mass murderer Wayne Williams. And this was after he had saved hundreds of lives."

He continued, "Now a movie comes along 23 years later, a perfect chance for the AJC to atone for what they did to Richard and to admit to their misdeeds. And what do they decide to do? They launch a distraction campaign. They deflect and distort. They focus solely on one single minute in a movie that's 129 minutes long, opting to challenge one assertion in the movie rather than accepting their own role in destroying the life of a good man."

,p> "The movie isn't about Kathy Scruggs; it's about the heroism and hounding of Richard Jewell, and what rushed reporting can do to an innocent man," Billy clarified. "And by the way, I will stand by every word and assertion in the script."

"Richard Jewell" hits theatres 31 January 2020, and will feature a disclaimer at the end, which reads, "The film is based on actual historical events. Dialogue and certain events and characters contained in the film were created for the purposes of dramatisation."

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