Charlize Theron Will Play Megyn Kelly in the Fox News Movie No One Ever Wanted
It was announced yesterday that Charlize Theron will be playing Megyn Kelly in a movie about the women of Fox News. Which begs the question … why? And also, for whom?
The film is said to center on the culture of sexual harassment rampant at the network under Roger Ailes. More than 20 women accused Ailes (who resigned in 2016 and died in 2017) of harassment, including Kelly herself, as she detailed in her 2016 memoir. But he’s nowhere close to the only man at the network to be accused of harassment or to have past multi-million dollar settlements come to light. Some, like Bill O’Reilly and Eric Boiling, were forced out.
On top of all of that, Fox just announced their first-ever female CEO, but by all accounts, Suzanne Scott only broke that glass ceiling by stomping down other women to do so. She reportedly worked to smear Gretchen Carlson, who spoke out about harassment at the network (which Scott has denied), she was reportedly the enforcer behind the network’s “mini-skirt” dress code (which she has denied, with a Fox spokesperson saying the dress code did not exist), and she was a defendant in a lawsuit accusing the network of operating “like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency, and misogyny.” The lawsuit was settled, with Scott denying all claims.
A representative from Fox has also contacted us to note that Scott is working to change the company’s culture, taking steps including “holding meetings with small groups and quarterly company addresses. Scott has also held internal networking events and monthly breakfasts exclusively for women at the company. All employees must now go through mandatory sexual harassment training and Fox created a workforce and diversity council that works with its human resources department.”
But if Ailes and possibly Scott are likely to be the villains in this story, it’s worth wondering how the film plans to portray the other women, the ones who were victims of harassment or assault while working at the network. Because while those women are in no way to be blamed for the abuse they suffered, they are still complicit in the larger evils of Fox News. Women like Kelly and Carlson helped spread hateful, racist, and even sexist propaganda that has created lasting damage to the country.
I’m not presuming that Theron’s Kelly will be a straight-up hero in this story. I’d be surprised if she were. Instead, I imagine this will be closer to another Jay Roach–the director attached to this project–film, Game Change, which starred Julianne Moore in a very sympathetic portrayal of Sarah Palin. That film didn’t ignore Palin’s failings (and how dangerous she could have been as Vice President), but it painted her in an exceedingly loving, empathetic light. If that’s what he’s planning to do with Megyn Kelly, I can’t see how that’s a story worth telling.
The harassment Kelly and other women suffered at Fox News is an important story. But Megyn Kelly and the other women who worked at the network are still villains as well. Will the film cover Kelly’s ridiculing of women fighting for access to birth control? Will it mention that time she said a 15-year-old girl attacked by the police was “no saint either”? Will it give proper attention to her persistent on-air racism? (For that matter, will the film tackle the racial discrimination suits lodged against the network that got far less attention than the sexual harassment and discrimination complaints?) I hope the answer to all of this is yes.
I don’t know what the film will do with Kelly or any other character. It’s being written by Charles Randolph, who wrote The Big Short, so hopefully, there will be some political nuance in there. And Charlize Theron is no stranger to complicated, layered characters. I still can’t imagine how many layers you can give to Megan Kelly to make me interested in watching a movie about her.
[Update Thursday, May 23, 11:40AM: This post has been updated to include Scott’s denials of the claims made against her, as well as information from Fox about her work to change the company.]
(via Deadline, image: VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images)
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