EXCLUSIVE: Chris Pine has attached to play iconic CBS newsman Walter Cronkite in Newsflash. This is the Ben Jacoby-scripted drama that takes place on November 22, 1963, the day President John F Kennedy was assassinated in Texas. Similar to the cultural atom-splitting moments captured in films like The Social Network, Newsflash covers the day that television network news came of age, and that Cronkite became the most trusted TV newsman voice of America. Even if he wasn’t first to announce the president had died (NBC did that).
Mark Ruffalo is still attached to play Don Hewitt, who was Cronkite’s producer and helped navigate the chaos in an unimaginably tragic day in America. The drama is being mobilized for a January start Greg Silverman’s Stampede, with Silverman producing with Adam Kolbrenner. Jacoby wrote a much admired script called The Ravine, a Chinatown-like look at how landowners were pushed out of Chavez Ravine to make room for the Dodgers baseball team that was moving out of Brooklyn.
The pieces have changed here somewhat. Seth Rogen was initially eyed for Cronkite, and David Gordon Green was going to direct, before he exited to helm the Halloween sequels and then an untitled drama about the Cambridge Analytica scandal and its young mastermind data consultant Christopher Wylie. That project is set at AGBO, with script by Avengers: Endgame screenwriters Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely.
Stampede is right now engaging directors for a solid look at television history, with a film anchored by two strong actors. Jacoby scripted a drama that revolves around Cronkite, Hewitt, their boss Jim Aubrey, and Dan Rather, a young news man who happened to be in Texas and who first distinguished himself as a dogged reporter as he and other journalists frantically dug for truth after reports went over the wire that gunfire rang out in vicinity of the president’s motorcade.
Under pressure from William Paley to show profit at a time when network news wasn’t considered indispensable, the steely Aubrey plays the role of antagonist here. Aubrey felt CBS Evening News wasn’t sensational enough in its presentation of the news and he threatened to remove Cronkite and even scrap the whole evening newscast for programming with greater audience appeal. When JFK was assassinated, there was no cohesion between the network and CBS affiliate news operations, and Cronkite and Hewitt has to scramble to break into soap opera programming from the newsroom because when the on set lights and cameras took forever to warm up. It was a moment when Hewitt, Cronkite and their team proved their mettle, filtering all the unverified information and swirling rumors and find the truth that was conveyed to heartbroken Americans glued to their TV sets.
Pine is coming off Outlaw King, Hell or High Water and Wonder Woman, as well as the Star Trek films. He will next reprise with Gal Gadot for Wonder Woman 1984. He’s repped by CAA and John Carrabino Management and Gendler & Kelly.
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