CNN cuts Clinton film after director quits

CNN will not air a planned documentary about Hillary Clinton due to pressure from the Clinton camp. 

Charles Ferguson, who would have directed the film, wrote in a Huffington Post blog post Monday that he was scrapping the project with CNN Films because Clinton’s confidantes had raised concerns about it. 

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CNN said it would not seek other partners for the film and would not proceed.

"Charles Ferguson has informed us that he is not moving forward with his documentary about Hillary Clinton. Charles is an Academy Award winning director who CNN Films was excited to be working with, but we understand and respect his decision," a CNN spokesperson said.

In his blog post, Ferguson wrote that the Clinton camp made it clear it would not cooperate with the film. 

He wrote that Clinton press secretary Nick Merrill "interrogated" him after the film contract was signed. 

“He interrogated me; at first I answered, but eventually I stopped,” Ferguson said. “When I requested an off-the-record, private conversation with Mrs. Clinton, Merrill replied that she was busy writing her book, and not speaking to the media." 

Phillip Reines, another Clinton gatekeeper, declined a request to speak with Ferguson and complained to CNN employees the documentary was a conflict of interest, Ferguson wrote.

“I would have loved to explore all this. But when I approached people for interviews, I discovered that nobody, and I mean nobody, was interested in helping me make this film," Ferguson said. "Not Democrats, not Republicans — and certainly nobody who works with the Clintons, wants access to the Clintons, or dreams of a position in a Hillary Clinton administration.” 

The film was one of two announced TV profiles about Clinton that have prompted criticism from Republicans. 

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus announced the neither CNN nor NBC, which has announced a miniseries about Clinton, would be able to run GOP 2016 debates if they went through with the projects. 

In August, NBC’s production became less clear. “The Hillary Clinton movie has not been ordered to production, only a script is being written at this time,” said Bob Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment. 

Diane Lane had been selected to play Clinton, but her profile on the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) does not indicate her involvement with the film.   

The RNC also wants NBC to cancel its miniseries.

“While CNN is not moving forward with its Hillary Clinton infomercial, it’s clearly not of their choosing but rather because the filmmaker quit in large part because of the RNC’s actions," RNC spokesperson Kirsten Kukowski said in a statement. "

This was only the first step in the Republican Party taking control of our debate process. The purpose of our party’s debates is to better inform our grassroots and those participating in Republican primaries and caucuses. The pressure is now squarely on NBC to cancel its Hillary infomercial. The timing, frequency, moderators and venues will all be part of new debate model that will come in the next few months. Any media organization looking to be part of the debate process will have to comply with the new system.” 

This story was posted at 10:19 a.m. and was updated at 12:44 p.m.