Confirmation, the forthcoming HBO film starring Kerry Washington as Anita Hill has sparked a particular type of nostalgia over the infamous trial that stood at the intersection of race and gender.
According to a new article from The Hollywood Reporter, several politicians, who were actively involved in the 1991 case and are active in Washington now, fought to make sure they were not portrayed in an unfavorable manner in the film.
The back and forth between HBO and Republicans started with an Aug. 13 “memorandum” from retired Missouri Sen. John Danforth written to Grant, Washington, London and others, where he complains about specific scenes in the script he says never happened in real life. The Yale Law School graduate ends his four-page memo with: “Insofar as the script you sent me pertains to me, it is untrue, and it is malicious. If shown on television, it would greatly damage my reputation.”…
Perhaps the most common complaint registered by Republicans, though, is the portrayal of Angela Wright, the so-called “other woman” who had been fired by Thomas and was set to testify that she, too, had been sexually harassed by him years earlier. In the HBO film, it’s mainly Republicans (with a little help from Biden) who prevent Wright from testifying.
“You portray Angela Wright as a corroborating witness who is bullied against testifying by ‘unethical’ tactics of Republican senators. This is not true,” Danforth wrote in his memo.
“HBO says Angela Wright is the great second coming who we wouldn’t allow to testify, but she was plenty flawed,” says Alan Simpson, the retired Republican senator from Wyoming who played a pivotal role in ensuring Thomas’s confirmation. “Clarence fired her because she called a co-worker a ‘f—-t.’ She wanted revenge. I thought, ‘bring her on. I’d love to cross examine her,’ “
“It was Democrats on Anita Hill’s side who didn’t want her. That’s the irony. Republicans were waiting with baited breath, and her people knew it.”
And of course there’s the issue of Vice President Joe Biden. Biden, the then chairman of the Senate Judiciary, who presided over the hearings, did little to protect Hill, who faced attacks from all sides. Most recently the issue was considered an albatross of sorts that would likely sink a potential presidential bid from Biden. According to reports, he worked with HBO to clean up his portrayal.
HBO Films president Len Amato confirmed that some of the politicians’ concerns were taken into consideration, and the film even includes a disclaimer regarding certain parts being “fictionalized.”
“We measure their input against the research we’ve done, and against our sourcing, and if we think someone makes a point that’s valid, we make an adjustment,” he said.
Regardless of the changes, many think the timing of the film is deliberate, in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s bid for the White House.
Still, the film which premieres on April 16, is highly anticipated and already garnering strong reviews. Watch a trailer for Confirmation below.