[Editor’s Note: The story originally published early on November 21 has been updated to reflect new information November 22.]
On the afternoon of Friday November 22, Apple Originals announced what was widely expected: the release of George Nolfi’s “The Banker” has been delayed indefinitely. The film, scheduled for a limited theatrical release on December 6 with the assistance of Bleecker Street, already had its AFI Fest closing-night premiere November 21 canceled abruptly the day before. Apple cited “concerns” about the film that stars Anthony Mackie as Bernard Garrett, Sr., a man who launched a financial institution that gave loans to African Americans when few banks in the U.S. would. A streaming release on Apple TV+ also now seems very much in doubt.
However, a comment on IndieWire’s article about a panel discussion for the film held at our own Consider This FYC Brunch on November 5 in Los Angeles pointed to what those “concerns” might be.
Cynthia Garrett, a former VH1 and MTV broadcaster, wrote a lengthy statement about how “The Banker” misrepresents her family’s story. She alleges her half-brother Bernard Garrett Jr., a co-producer on the film, helped develop the project without input from her or her other siblings and skewed the account of the real-life story in a way that omitted them and their mother Linda from the story.
In a statement to THR, Garrett accused Garrett Jr. of molesting her and other siblings over years — and helped shape a narrative that elides that abuse.
On November 9, however, Garrett wrote the following as a comment below IndieWire’s write-up of “The Banker” panel:
“His real wife is Linda Garrett. She’s my mother. [The film focuses on Bernard Garrett Sr.’s first wife over his second.] What’s been done here is shocking. My dad would turn in his grave. No script was ever written 20 years ago. My dad wrote a small book he gave us kids. Truth was what he and my mom wanted. Instead HOLLYWOOD has partnered with our half brother and stolen my mom’s story after molesting me and my baby sister for years. What about fact checks? It’s sick that these men never seemed to care to know the real story here. I’ve worked in Hollywood thirty years. I’ve spoken about this in my book. [In 2016, she published “Prodigal Daughter: A Journey Home To Identity.”] And in conferences for years all over the world. Yet they partnered with our estranged half brother and erased us and our mother who co owned all the real estate and the banks. No regard for truth or family or sexual abuse victims being constantly abused. Every producer and star who played a part in this should be ashamed. Apple TV should be ashamed. We would have pride in my dads story being told but we all dreamed we would share our mom and dads truth accurately. My mom is devastated. Nia long is black. My moms face is white. I guess HOLLYWOOD prefers the racial divide to continue rather than heal it. Something will now need to be done. We are praying Apple TV will make this right somehow.”
A woman claiming to be another sibling, Grace Garrett, also commented:
“This story is not being told accurately and Bernard Jr. Is lieing [sic]. Please speak with the other 8 children of Bernard Garrett Sr.”
IndieWire reached out to Cynthia Garrett over email to confirm the comment, and she responded:
“Yes it’s true. They omitted my mom and my siblings and I entirely. Stole our mom and our life story and did so with our abuser. It hurts. Deeply. HOLLYWOOD needs regulations that make filmmakers way more responsible and accountable for taking people’s life stories and with whom they work.”
Currently, “The Banker” is slated for theatrical release December 6. Representatives for Apple TV+, producer Joel Viertel, and star Anthony Mackie have not yet returned IndieWire’s requests for comment. IndieWire will continue to update this story.