EXCLUSIVE: The story of how the BBC got Prince Andrew’s explosive interview about his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein is to become a movie called Scoop, and Hugh Grant is one of the unconfirmed names in the frame to portray the disgraced royal, Deadline has learned.
Acclaimed Your Honor screenwriter Peter Moffat is writing the Scoop screenplay for production company The Lighthouse Film & TV, which was launched two years ago by Hilary Salmon, Radford Neville and Nick Betts, as well as British independent television Voltage TV.
The news will likely be met with little amusement by Andrew’s mother, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and other members of the Royal Family. Buckingham Palace had hoped that when it came to the wandering royal, the less he was seen and heard of, the better.
The car crash interview had such an impact that the Duke of York was banned from royal duties. He was notably absent during the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee festivities last month.
Both Moffat and Salmon confirmed the news today, telling Deadline that production will be set up soon. They plan to start filming in November. A director has yet to be named, and casting has yet to begin, although introductions have been made to selected agents. “The reaction is always the same, ‘Oh, wow,'” Salmon said.
When pushed to cast, Salmon said “we, of course, have thoughts,” but stressed that “no one is attached,” and she didn’t comment on reports that Grant is in the cast. cut.
Moffat explained that Scoop is “about how the BBC Newsnight the crew got the scoop and then the actual filming,” adding, “The other thing is, ‘why did he agree to do this?’.
“How come he decided it was a good idea to do a really long interview with Emily Maitlis on the BBC?” Moffat asked in disbelief, as he pondered the arrogance, the the Duke’s ignorance and charm, which he said “quite often covers up the wrong things, or so I think.
Scoop will be based on Scoops: Behind the scenes of the BBC’s most shocking interviews by Sam McAlister, a former Newsnight producer, whom Salmon said he chose almost immediately.
Filled with juicy, jaw-dropping detail, McAlister shares how she, Maitlis, Esme Wren, former Newsnight editor, now with Channel 4, and Stewart Maclean, then deputy editor at Newsnightnow its editor, secured the Duke of York interview which aired in November 2019, two months after Epstein was found dead in his prison cell.
Salmon and Moffat have previously collaborated on Sheltered, silk, criminal justice and on the current AMC show 61st street, which stars Courtney B. Vance, Aunjanue Ellis and Tosin Cole. A second season is over.
Maitlis, then Newsnight, examined forensically the duke’s relationship with Epstein and his mistress Ghislaine Maxwell, who last year was convicted of child sex trafficking and other offences. During the interview, the prince said he regretted continuing to associate with Epstein after the financier pleaded guilty to soliciting sex from minors in 2008. However, the fact that he offered no apology to Epstein’s victims caused an outcry and made global headlines. “Life in a bubble,” Salmon said.
The story Moffat wants to tell is how “Sam and these two amazing women, Emily and Esme, made the interview happen under real stress and pressure, because once it was agreed, it’s “passed in secret. Hardly anyone inside the BBC could have known about it for fear of it leaking,” he said.
He added: “What Andrew was going to say was going to be hugely relevant in court later…a real liability, especially for Epstein’s female victims. It was our only chance to watch what Andrew had to say about Epstein. The seriousness with which Emily, Esme and Sam took him, of course, was right.
Admitting that “it sounds a bit rude”, Moffat observed that behind-the-scenes activities involving the BBC team and members of the Duke’s household, his private secretary Amanda Thirsk and his daughter Princess Beatrice, who accompanied her father in a meeting with BBC producers, “made a very exciting drama”.
Salmon noted how sections of McAlister’s book, which caused a stir when it was serialized in the Daily mail, and is released today, July 14, shows just how out of touch the Duke was. “All the opportunities Emily gave him to say the right things to justify his friendship with Epstein, to say how sorry he was,” were wasted opportunities on the Duke’s part.
Moffat added that he later learned that once the cameras had stopped rolling, Maitlis repeated his offer to him to return to the cameras. ”NewIt couldn’t have been fairer to him,” he said.
The Duke was oblivious to how his performance had gone in the room. “He thought it went extremely well,” Salmon said.
The problem with the Duke is that “everyone laughs at his jokes all the time,” added Moffat, who went on to say: “I don’t think anyone ever interrupts him when he’s talking and I think those two things give you a level of eligibility; he always feels in control of the time and space around him.
McAlister cites one such example in his book. When the interview was set up in a state room at Buckingham Palace, the Duke gave sound engineers advice on how they should wire everything up.
“He’s a sixty-year-old man who’s just used to it all,” Moffat said.
Pieces of Newsnight the interview will be recreated for Scoop but no actual BBC footage will be used.
Moffat said McAlister “has been a huge help.”
But when asked if any courtiers at Buckingham Palace had been involved in Moffat’s research, Salmon cautiously replied: “We have contacted a wide variety of people involved behind the scenes in the interview and we are still in that process. .”
Sam McAlister’s book balls is published by Oneworld Productions. McAlister is represented by Jen Thomas at United Agents who negotiated the film rights.