Rupert Murdoch, the 81-year-old billionaire and the closest living embodiment of Montgomery Burns, is set to have his life story told, in indie movie biopic form, no less. The noted evil genius behind Fox News and an international illegal wiretapping scandal is going to be the subject of a new biographical film called “The News of the World,” using the newspaper of the same name as a framing device for the narrative. What’s more is that the movie, funded by Screen Australia and written by Bob Ellis and Stephen Ramsay, will be followed by a fourteen-part miniseries. Apparently what “The Dark Tower” project couldn’t accomplish, a super-lengthy Rupert Murdoch biopic can.
Ellis wrote the journalism drama “Newsfront” for Philip Noyce and co-wrote a miniseries in the ’80s with Ramsay. Although casting has yet to be finalized, Ellis said that his first choice for the part of Murdoch would be New Zealand actor Marton Csokas, who is currently shooting “Noah” with Russell Crowe, for Darren Aronofsky.
Although Murdoch might be the person you’d least like to be trapped in a room with, he has led an undeniably fascinating life, aligning himself with powerful conservative figures in Australia, England (he was chummy with Margaret Thatcher), and the United States (just as chummy with Richard Nixon), where he carved a niche for himself with the “fair and balanced” Fox News network. A proverbial media titan, he owns everything from the Twentieth Century Fox movie studio, HarperCollins publishing house and Wall Street Journal newspaper. In total, he owns over 800 companies in 50 countries and is worth north of $8 billion.
Last summer, his credibility took a huge hit as an investigation was launched into illegal wiretaps in the United States and Britain. The News of the World newspaper supposedly tapped everyone from celebrities to families of terrorist attack victims. It’s truly rotten stuff and exposed the dark underbelly of his media empire.
Ellis told Mumbrella: “What we have done starts at 1960 with his early career when he bought the Daily Telegraph off Packer and then to when he bought News of the World and how he burst on the world of America and became a friend of Nixon and got a license as a foreigner media owner.”
Famously, Elliot Carver (played with lugubrious ingenuity by Jonathan Pryce in the James Bond movie “Tomorrow Never Dies“), is based on Murdoch. He has also been lampooned on “The Simpsons,” which airs on the Murdoch-owned television station Fox, and was the subject of the searing 2004 documentary “Outfoxed.”
Whatever your political affiliation, you have to agree that Murdoch’s story will make for a compulsively watchable film and miniseries. Though we have to wonder how quickly he’ll get his lawyers on this….