For years, Rob Fords name was synonymous with scandal. The politician, who died in 2016, was the mayor of Toronto from 2010 to 2014, and was regularly embroiled in controversy, from public intoxication, to once being recorded smoking crack cocaine. Now, true to form, an upcoming movie that will revolve around his mayoral years is quickly generating controversy of its own.
On Tuesday, it was reported that British star Damian Lewis will portray Ford in the upcoming drama Run This Town, undergoing prosthetic treatment that will transform him into the Toronto figure. While cinephiles out there might feel compelled to litigate or vigorously defend this casting decision, thats not even the controversy at hand. The plot revolves around a reporter, played by Ben Platt, who follows the ups and downs of Fords political reign, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Reporter Robyn Doolittle has stirred up a debate about Platts role, however, accusing the film of erasing her from the narrative. Doolittle was a key journalist during Fords term in office, and one of three reporters who saw firsthand and reported on the video of the mayor smoking crack cocaine (the other two reporters were Gawkers John Cook and Doolittles colleague, Kevin Donovan).
“Im glad theyre rewriting the fact that it was a female reporter who investigated Rob Ford,” Doolittle tweeted on Tuesday. “Why have a woman be a lead character when a man could do it? Ammaright?”
Her tweet quickly went viral. She followed it up with another tweet, adding that she wasnt placing the blame on Platt: “Not begrudging @BenSPLATT (!) – just about the move in general: obviously Im biased, but man, Ive seen a lot of stories by male reporters celebrated in movies…”
Platt responded with a lengthy statement about the film, saying his role is a fictional reporter at a fictional publication and is in no way based on Doolittle. “That in and of itself is an incredibly worthy and fascinating story,” he said of Doolittles reporting, “but its not the one we are telling, nor would I ever agree to be a part of a film that would attribute the accomplishments of a remarkable woman to a fictional man.”
Doolittle did not respond to Platts statement, noting in a later tweet that she was not responding to reporterss requests for comment because she “is on maternity leave and gotta put down the electronics.” However, she later responded to a tweet from talk-show host Iain Grant, who asked “in all fairness, didnt both you and @_kevindonovan work on the story together, at least to the point where you both saw the video, and wrote about the fiasco, along with many other male investigative reporters across Canada, not just Toronto?”
Doolittle responded by saying she never suggested she was the only reporter working on the story, and she “went to great lengths in Crazy Town to give credit to colleagues at my own paper and competitors.” However, her reporting on Fords substance-abuse issues “began more than 1.5 yrs before the crack story.”
Writer-director Ricky Tollman told the Toronto Star that Ford will ultimately be a smaller part in the film, which is more about Platts character. The plot will also revolve around two aides (played by Nina Dobrev and Mena Massoud), who try to keep Fords scandals out of the spotlight.
Though Fords controversies were larger than life and certainly dominated his political narrative, Tollman says hes aiming to paint a “sympathetic portrait” of the late politician. “Rob isnt just a caricature, hes a person and hes a human,” Tollman said. “He cared very deeply about the city he was the mayor of. And this was a guy with demons.”
He also reiterated Platts statement, saying Run This Town isnt based on any of the reporters who covered Ford in real life. “It was a surprise to me (that) people took three words out of the description of the film and spun it into something that its not, without having read the script,” he said in an interview with the Globe and Mail.
Ford died in 2016 after an 18-month battle with cancer. He was 46 years old. Run This Town, which will be Tollmans feature directorial debut, is currently filming in Toronto and does not yet have a set release date.
Get Vanity Fairs HWD NewsletterSign up for essential industry and award news from Hollywood.Full ScreenPhotos:Celebrities-Turned-Activists Throughout the Years
In 1989, Hepburn—who survived World War II in the Netherlands as a child—was appointed as an ambassador to UNICEF, and, as the organization mentions on its Web site, she made up to 15 speeches a day for the group on behalf of children in need around the world. In a 1988 Global News interview, Hepburn, who lived in Switzerland and out of the public eye, said that she didnt have to think hard to take on this role to be an advocate for children. “Im moving around the world once again, but Im happy to do it, because for children, Id go to the moon.”Photo: By Peter Charlesworth/LightRocket/Getty Images.
Fonda was a vocal anti-war activist during the Vietnam War, sparking controversy with her infamous “Hanoi Jane” photograph. Since then, Fonda has been known for supporting and championing dozens of causes, including the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power & Potential, for which she raised money at her big 80th birthday bash this past December. “If it didnt make a difference for famous people to speak out, the right wing wouldnt object. We are like repeaters,” she told Vanity Fair then. “Repeaters are the towers that you see at the top of mountains that pick up signals from the valley and carry them over the mountains to a broader audience. And thats what celebrities do, if were doing our job right. Were picking up the voices of people who cant be heard and broadcasting their story.”Photo: From Bettmann/Getty Images.
The actor and singer, and friend of both Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy, has spoken up for civil rights and social causes for over 50 years. He helped organize the march at Selma in 1965, and even advised the organizers of the 2017 Womens March. Now at the age of 91, he is encouraging Americans to keep their chins up in the Trump era. “I guess the thing that I most want to get to is that the best of us is still in front of us; the worst of us were experiencing,” he said at the Robert F. Kennedy Ripple of Hope Awards last December.Photo: From Bettmann/Getty Images.
When the Reagan administration did its best to ignore the AIDS crisis of the early 1980s, Taylor faced it. As Vanity Fair wrote in 2015, she reportedly ran an underground pharmaceuticals ring for AIDS medication out of her Bel Air mansion. “She was saving lives,” her friend Kathy Ireland said of the efforts. In 1991, she founded the Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation (E.T.A.F.) to provide grants to organizations that help those living with and affected by HIV and AIDS. Taylor was also a leading voice behind AmfAR, the foundation for AIDS research, and is still remembered as an advocate for the cause.Photo: By Jeffrey Markowitz/Sygma/Getty Images.
In 2011, Ruffalo founded Water Defense, an organization that works to ban hydraulic fracturing in the state of New York. “Fracking is an extreme form of oil and gas extraction that leads to water contamination, air pollution, earthquakes, illness, exacerbates climate change, and turns communities upside down,” he wrote on the blog EcoWatch in 2016.Photo: By D Dipasupil/Getty Images.
After Page came out as gay in 2014, she became an active and vocal advocate for the L.G.B.T.Q. community, through Vices Gaycation series, as well as a loud voice for immigrants. At LAX last year, she posted videos during a protest of President Trumps travel ban and was right up in the thick of things. “I am young, yes, but what I have learned is that love, the beauty of it, the joy of it, and yes, even the pain of it, is the most incredible gift to give and to receive as a human being,” she said during her coming-out speech. “And we deserve to experience love fully, equally, without shame and without compromise.”Photo: By Kristina Bumphrey/StarPix/REX/Shutterstock.
George and Amal Clooney
The Clooney Foundation for Justice has supported a variety of causes in the past year, including bestowing a grant to the Southern Poverty Law Center following violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last summer. The Clooneys most recently joined the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., and donated half a million dollars to the cause.Photo: Photograph by Justin Bishop.PreviousNext
Yohana DestaYohana Desta is a Hollywood writer for VanityFair.com.