Clinton film put on hold

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Martin Scorsese has tackled the mob, the Dalai Lama and the real-life Wolf of Wall Street.

But he appears to have met his match in Bill Clinton. The film-maker's partly finished documentary about Clinton, which once seemed likely to be released as Hillary Rodham Clinton was navigating a presidential run, has stalled over disagreements about control, people briefed on the project said.

Though parts of the film were shot over the last two years as the former president made a philanthropic visit to Africa and elsewhere, the project is now indefinitely shelved, partly because Mr Clinton insisted on more control over the interview questions and final version than Scorsese was willing to give, the sources said. Mr Clinton's spokesman claimed as "inaccurate" assertions that the project, backed by HBO, was stalled over differences about content and control and was now put aside.

Scorsese's spokesman would not comment. Neither did a spokesman for Mr Steve Bing, a Clinton friend and donor who was to be a producer of the film. An HBO spokesman said: "It's not happening soon, but that doesn't mean it's not going to happen."

Oscar-winning Scorsese, 72, still has many cinematic irons in the fire. A representative said the film-maker and his associates were preoccupied with preparations in Taiwan for the filming of Silence, a period piece about Jesuit priests, which stars Liam Neeson and Andrew Garfield.

But Scorsese clearly had a soft spot for the Clinton project. In a 2012 statement, he said the film would "provide greater insight into this transcendent figure".

Mr Clinton at the time said he was pleased to become the subject of a "legendary director". Still, neither Mr Clinton nor Scorsese proved able to overcome the complications inherent with an attempt to build entertainment around a figure whose wife stands on the verge of another presidential campaign. Mrs Clinton is expected to declare her candidacy some time this spring.

Clearly, the film carried the risk that an unflattering camera angle, unwelcome question or an obvious omission by Scorsese would become a blemish to Mr Clinton's legacy or provide fodder for Clinton critics as the 2016 campaign approaches. Apparently to avoid such problems, people close to Mr Clinton sought to approve questions he would be asked in the film, and went so far as to demand final cut, a privilege generally reserved for directors of Scorsese's stature.

Scorsese's camp rejected those suggestions and the project was shelved. The film now appears to be years away from completion.

While Clinton The Musical, a stage satire focused on Clinton administration scandals, is set for an off-Broadway run in March, other Clinton-themed entertainment projects have faltered.

CNN scrapped a documentary in 2013 about Mrs Clinton amid pushback from Clinton aides and the Republican National Committee. Rodham, a planned feature film about the romance between a young Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham, has been struggling through Hollywood's development process since Lionsgate acquired rights to it in 2013.

 
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