The Insider (film)
|Directed by||Michael Mann|
|Produced by||Pieter Jan Brugge
|Written by||Eric Roth
|Based on||"The Man Who Knew Too Much"
by Marie Brenner
|Music by||Pieter Bourke
|Editing by||William Goldenberg
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures|
|Running time||157 minutes|
The Insider is a 1999 American drama film directed by Michael Mann based on the true story of a 60 Minutes segment about tobacco industry whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand.1 The 60 Minutes story originally aired in November 1995 in an altered form because of objections by CBS' then-owner, Laurence Tisch, who also controlled the Lorillard Tobacco Company. The story was later aired on February 4, 1996.
The film stars Al Pacino and Russell Crowe, with Christopher Plummer, Bruce McGill, Diane Venora, Michael Gambon, Philip Baker Hall, Lindsay Crouse, Gina Gershon, Debi Mazar, and Colm Feore in supporting roles.
It was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Russell Crowe), Best Cinematography, Best Director, Best Editing, Best Picture, Best Sound and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published.
||This section's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (December 2010)|
In Lebanon, Hezbollah militants escort producer Lowell Bergman (Pacino) to Hezbollah founder Sheikh Fadlallah. Lowell convinces him to be interviewed by Mike Wallace (Plummer) for CBS show 60 Minutes.
In Louisville, Kentucky, Jeffrey Wigand (Crowe) leaves his Brown & Williamson office, returning home to his wife Liane (Venora) and two children, both of whom have serious medical conditions requiring ongoing treatment. When Liane asks about the boxes in Wigand's car, he reveals that he was fired from his job.
Upon returning home to Berkeley, California, Bergman receives a box containing highly technical documents relating to the "ignition propensity" of tobacco from the Philip Morris company, and approaches a friend at the Food and Drug Administration for the name of someone who can put the information in layman's terms. Bergman is referred to Wigand, only to be steadfastly rebuffed. Bergman eventually goes to Louisville and finally convinces him to meet at the Seelbach Hotel in Louisville.
Wigand agrees to interpret the scientific documents but stresses that he cannot talk about anything else. After leaving with the documents, Wigand is summoned to a meeting with Brown & Williamson CEO Thomas Sandefur (Gambon), who coerces him into signing an expanded confidentiality agreement. A lawyer threatens to immediately take away his family's health benefits and file suit if he does not comply. Wigand calls Bergman and accuses him of betrayal.
Bergman visits Wigand's house the next day and maintains that he did not reveal anything to Brown & Williamson. Reassured, Wigand talks to Bergman about the seven CEOs of "Big Tobacco" perjuring themselves to the United States Congress about their awareness of nicotine's addictiveness. Bergman says Wigand has to decide for himself whether to blow the whistle on big tobacco. Wigand finally reveals that he is under a confidentiality agreement and gives Bergman a copy of it.
Bergman returns to CBS Headquarters in New York City, where he and Wallace discuss Wigand's situation. A lawyer at the meeting states that Wigand's confidentiality agreement would effectively silence Wigand. Bergman proposes that Wigand could be compelled to speak through a court order arising from unrelated State litigation against Big Tobacco aimed at recovering Medicare and Medicaid costs arising from tobacco-related illnesses. They conclude this could give Wigand some protection against Brown & Williamson should he do an interview for 60 Minutes.
The Wigand family move into a newer, more affordable house, and Wigand begins teaching a Louisville high school. One night while asleep, he's alerted by his daughter to sounds outside the house. Upon investigation, he discovers a fresh shoe print in his newly planted garden.
The next night, Wigand and Bergman have dinner together, where Bergman asks Wigand about incidents from his past that Big Tobacco might use against him. Wigand reveals several incriminating incidents before declaring he can't see how they would affect his testimony. Bergman assures him they will.
Bergman contacts Richard Scruggs (Feore) and Ron Motley (McGill) who, with Mississippi's attorney general Mike Moore, are suing Big Tobacco to reimburse the state for Medicaid funds used to treat people with smoking-related illnesses. The trio express an interest in Bergman's idea and tell him to have Wigand call them. Meanwhile, Wigand receives an email death threat and finds a bullet in his mailbox, prompting him to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation who, after subtly accusing him of being emotionally unbalanced, confiscate his computer for evidence.
Enraged over the threats to his family, Wigand phones Bergman and demands to fly to New York and tape his testimony immediately. During Wigand's interview with Wallace, Wigand states that Brown & Williamson is making their cigarettes more addictive. He continues by saying Brown & Williamson have consciously ignored public health considerations in the name of profit.
In Louisville, Wigand begins his new teaching job and talks to Richard Scruggs. Upon returning home, Wigand discovers that Bergman has given him some security personnel. Wigand's wife is struggling under the pressure and tells him so. Days later, Wigand travels to Pascagoula, Mississippi, where he is served a restraining order issued by a State court in Kentucky to prevent him from testifying.
Though the restraining order, obtained by Brown & Williamson's lawyers, was thrown out in Mississippi, Wigand is threatened with the contention that if he testifies and returns to Kentucky he could be imprisoned for contempt of court. After a lengthy period of introspection, Wigand goes to the Mississippi court and gives his deposition, during which he says nicotine acts as a drug. Following his testimony, Wigand returns to Louisville, where he discovers that his wife and children have left him.
Bergman and Wallace go to a meeting with CBS Corporate about the Wigand interview. The applicability of a legal theory has emerged, one known as tortious interference: if two parties have an agreement, such as a confidentiality agreement, and one of those parties is induced by a third party to break that agreement, the third party can be sued by the other parties for any damages. The more truth Wigand tells, the greater the damage, the theory applied goes, and a greater likelihood that CBS will be faced by a multi-billion dollar lawsuit from Brown & Williamson. It is later suggested that an edited interview take the place of the original. Bergman vehemently disagrees, and claims that the reason CBS Corporate is leaning on CBS News to edit the interview is because they fear that the prospect of a multi-billion dollar lawsuit could jeopardize the sale of CBS to Westinghouse. Wallace and Don Hewitt agree to edit the interview, leaving Bergman alone advocating airing it uncensored.
A PR firm hired by Big Tobacco initiates a smear campaign against Wigand, dredging up details about his life and publishing a 500-page dossier. Through Wigand, Bergman discovers that Big Tobacco have distorted and exaggerated numerous claims, and convinces a reporter from the Wall Street Journal to delay the story until it can be disproven. Bergman contacts several private investigators who do begin their own investigation. Bergman releases his findings to the Wall Street Journal reporter and tells him to push the deadline. Meanwhile, due to his constant fights with CBS management, Bergman is ordered to go on "vacation" (which is really a suspension).
Soon after, the edited interview is broadcast. After bluntly telling Wallace over the phone what he thought of the news broadcast, Bergman attempts to call Wigand at his hotel but receives no answer. He instead calls the hotel manager, who opens Wigand's door but is stopped by the chain. Peering into Wigand's room, the hotel manager spies Wigand sitting alone, lost in a daydream about the idyllic life he could have led without his testimony. Per Bergman's request, the hotel manager convinces Wigand to accept Bergman's phone call. Wigand screams at Bergman, accusing him of manipulating him into his position.
Bergman tells Wigand that he is "important to a lot of people" and tries to assure Wigand that he is doing the right thing by offering that "heroes like you are in short supply". After hanging up, Bergman contacts The New York Times and reveals the scandal that occurred at 60 Minutes, after which the Times publishes a scathing article that accuses CBS of betraying the legacy of their famous reporter, Edward R. Murrow for bowing to such attempts to silence publication of a truthful news story. Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal exonerates Wigand and reveals his deposition in Mississippi, while condemning Big Tobacco's 500-page smear as "the lowest form of character assassination." 60 Minutes finally broadcasts the full interview with Wigand.
Bergman talks to Wallace and he tells him that despite their finally airing the piece, he is still quitting, saying, "What got broken here doesn't go back together again." He leaves the building. The film ends with these details: that a $246 billion settlement was made by tobacco companies with Mississippi and other States in their lawsuit, and that Wigand lives in South Carolina. In 1996, Dr. Wigand won the Sallie Mae First Class Teacher of the Year award, receiving national recognition for his teaching skills. Lowell Bergman works for the PBS show Frontline and teaches at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.
- Al Pacino as Lowell Bergman
- Russell Crowe as Jeffrey Wigand
- Renee Olstead as Deborah Wigand
- Christopher Plummer as Mike Wallace
- Diane Venora as Liane Wigand
- Philip Baker Hall as Don Hewitt
- Lindsay Crouse as Sharon Tiller
- Debi Mazar as Debbie De Luca
- Hallie Kate Eisenberg as Barbara Wigand
- Stephen Tobolowsky as Eric Kluster
- Colm Feore as Richard Scruggs
- Bruce McGill as Ron Motley
- Gina Gershon as Helen Caperelli
- Michael Gambon as B&W CEO Thomas Sandefur
- Gary Sandy as Sandefur's lawyer
- Roger Bart as Seelbach Hotel Manager
- Jack Palladino as Himself
When Mann was in post-production on Heat, Bergman was going through the events depicted in The Insider. Bergman discussed his trials and tribulations with Mann. The director knew of Bergman's reputation as a man of his word and was intrigued. They had met in 1989 and talked about a few projects but nothing happened.citation needed Over the years, the two men kept in touch, talking about Bergman's experiences and at one point Mann was interested in doing a movie on an arms merchant in Marbella that Bergman knew. Mann first conceived of what would become The Insider (then known only as "The Untitled Tobacco Project") between the Wigand-lite aired interview in November 1995 and February 1996, when the segment aired in its entirety and Bergman was asked to leave 60 Minutes.
With a budget set at $68 million, Mann began collecting a massive amount of documents to research the events depicted in the film: depositions, news reports and 60 Minutes transcripts. He had read a screenplay that Eric Roth had written, called The Good Shepherd, about the first 25 years of the Central Intelligence Agency. Based on this script, Mann approached Roth to help him co-write The Insider. Mann and Roth wrote several outlines together and talked about the structure of the story. Roth interviewed Bergman numerous times for research and the two men became friends. After he and Mann wrote the first draft together, at the bar at the Broadway Deli in Santa Monica, Roth met Wigand. The whistle blower was still under his confidentiality agreement and would not break it for Roth or Mann. Roth remembered his first impressions of Wigand were that he came across as unlikable and defensive. As they continued to write more drafts, the two men made minor adjustments in chronology and invented some extraneous dialogue but also stuck strictly to the facts whenever possible. However, Mann and Roth were not interested in making a documentary.
Val Kilmer was considered by Mann for the role of Jeffrey Wigand. Producer Pieter Jan Brugge suggested Russell Crowe and after seeing him in L.A. Confidential, Mann flew Crowe down from Canada where he was in the middle of filming Mystery, Alaska on the actor's one day off and had him read scenes from The Insider screenplay for two to three hours. When Crowe read the scene where Wigand finds out that the 60 Minutes interview he did will not be aired, he captured the essence of Wigand so well that Mann knew he had found the perfect actor for the role. Crowe, who was only 33 years old at the time, was apprehensive at playing someone much older than himself when there were so many good actors in that age range. Once Crowe was cast, he and Mann spent six weeks together before shooting began, talking about his character and his props, clothes and accessories. Crowe put on 35 pounds for the role, shaved back his hairline, bleached his hair seven times and had a daily application of wrinkles and liver spots to his skin to transform himself into Wigand (who was in his early-to-mid-50s during the events depicted in the film). Crowe was not able to talk to Wigand about his experiences because he was still bound to his confidentiality agreement during much of film's development period. To get a handle on the man's voice and how he talked, Crowe listened repeatedly to a six-hour tape of Wigand.
Al Pacino was Mann's only choice to play Lowell Bergman. He wanted to see the actor play a role that he had never seen him do in a movie before. Pacino, who had worked with Mann previously in Heat, was more than willing to take on the role. To research for the film, Mann and Pacino hung out with reporters from Time magazine, spent time with ABC News and Pacino actually met Bergman to help get in character.
Pacino suggested Mann to cast Christopher Plummer in the role of Mike Wallace. Pacino had seen the veteran actor on the stage many times and was a big fan of Plummer's work. Mann had also wanted to work with Plummer since the 1970s. Pacino told Mann to watch Plummer in Sidney Lumet's Stage Struck (1958) and afterwards he was the director's only choice to play Wallace—Plummer did not have to audition. He met with Mann and after several discussions was cast in the film.
Wigand requested a ban on cigarettes in the film. However, as the character Wigand enters the airport, shortly before receiving his subpoena, a woman in the background is seen smoking a cigarette, also, a Lebanese soldier seen smoking briefly while Bergman is being transported to the Hezbollah meeting site.
The courtroom where Wigand gives his deposition is not a set. The filmmakers used the actual courtroom in Pascagoula, Mississippi where the real Wigand's deposition was given.
During a scene where Pacino and Crowe are speaking in a parked car, a large clockface can be seen in the background. This is actually the Colgate Clock, located on the façade of the Colgate factory in Clarksville, Indiana, directly across the Ohio River from Louisville, Kentucky, where the majority of the film was shot.
The Insider was adapted from "The Man Who Knew Too Much", an influential article on tobacco industry whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand, written by journalist Marie Brenner for the May 1996 issue of Vanity Fair.2
Wallace, in particular, was upset that the film would not portray him in the most flattering way.3
The Insider was released in 1,809 theaters on November 5, 1999 where it grossed a total of $6,712,361 on its opening weekend and ranked fourth in the country for that time period. It went on to make $29.1 million in North America and $31.2 million in the rest of the world for a total of $60.3 million worldwide, significantly lower than its $90 million budget.4 The film was considered to be a commercial disappointment. Disney executives had hoped that Mann's film would have the same commercial and critical success as All the President's Men, a film in the same vein. However, The Insider had limited appeal to younger moviegoers (studio executives reportedly said the prime audience was over the age of 40.) and the subject matter was "not notably dramatic", according to marketing executives. Then-Disney chairman Joe Roth said, "It's like walking up a hill with a refrigerator on your back. The fact of the matter is we're really proud we did this movie. People say it's the best movie they've seen this year. They say, 'Why don't we make more movies like this?'"5
Despite the disappointing box office reception, The Insider received near-unanimous critical praise, garnering some of the best reviews of 1999 and of Michael Mann's career. It holds a 96% "fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes based on 132 reviews6 and an 84 metascore on Metacritic.7 Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three and half out of four stars and praised "its power to absorb, entertain, and anger".8 Newsweek magazine's David Ansen wrote, "Mann could probably make a movie about needlepoint riveting. Employing a big canvas, a huge cast of superb character actors and his always exquisite eye for composition, he's made the kind of current-events epic that Hollywood has largely abandoned to TV--and shows us how movies can do it better".9 In her review for The New York Times, Janet Maslin praised Russell Crowe as "a subtle powerhouse in his wrenching evocation of Wigand, takes on the thick, stolid look of the man he portrays", and felt that it was "by far Mann's most fully realized and enthralling work".10 Time magazine's Richard Corliss wrote, "When Crowe gets to command the screen, The Insider comes to roiled life. It's an All the President's Men in which Deep Throat takes center stage, an insider prodded to spill the truth".11 Rolling Stone magazine's Peter Travers wrote, "With its dynamite performances, strafing wit and dramatic provocation, The Insider offers Mann at his best--blood up, unsanitized, and unbowed".12 However, Entertainment Weekly gave the film a "B" rating and felt that it "a good but far from great movie because it presents truth telling in America as far more imperiled than it is".13
Christopher Plummer won awards from the Boston Society of Film Critics, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the National Society of Film Critics for his performance as Mike Wallace. Russell Crowe won multiple awards for his role, including the Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor, the London Film Critics' Circle Award, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor, and the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor, among many others. In 2006, Premiere ranked Crowe's performance #23 of the 100 Greatest Performances of All Time.14 Eric Roth and Michael Mann won the Humanitas Prize in the Feature Film category in 2000.
In 2000, the film was nominated for seven Academy Awards; Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor in a Leading Role for Crowe, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing and Best Sound (Andy Nelson, Doug Hemphill and Lee Orloff).15
American Film Institute recognition:
|The Insider (Music from the Motion Picture)|
|Soundtrack album by Various artists|
|Released||October 26, 1999|
|Producer||Lisa Gerrard and Pieter Bourke
- "Tempest"--Lisa Gerrard & Pieter Bourke—2:51 (from Duality)
- "Dawn of the Truth"—Lisa Gerrard & Pieter Bourke—1:59
- "Sacrifice"—Lisa Gerrard & Pieter Bourke—7:41 (from Duality)
- "The Subordinate"—Lisa Gerrard & Pieter Bourke—1:17
- "Exile"—Lisa Gerrard & Pieter Bourke—1:39
- "The Silencer"—Lisa Gerrard & Pieter Bourke—1:38
- "Broken"—Lisa Gerrard & Pieter Bourke—2:03
- "Faith"—Lisa Gerrard & Pieter Bourke—3:01
- "I'm Alone on This"--Graeme Revell—2:02
- "LB in Montana"—Graeme Revell—0:50
- "Palladino Montage"—Graeme Revell—0:45
- "Iguazu"--Gustavo Santaolalla—3:12
- "Liquid Moon"—Lisa Gerrard & Pieter Bourke—4:05
- "Rites" (special edit for the film)--Jan Garbarek—5:34
- "Safe from Harm (Perfecto Mix)"--Massive Attack—8:14
- "Meltdown"—Lisa Gerrard & Pieter Bourke—5:40
- "Uotaaref Men Elihabek"—Casbah Orchestra
- "Suffocate," "Hot Shots" and "Night Stop"—Curt Sobel
- "Litany"--Arvo Pärt
- "Smokey Mountain Waltz"—Richard Gilks
- "Armenia"--Einstürzende Neubauten
- "Two or Three Things"--David Darling
- The Insider (Motion picture). Touchstone Pictures. 1999. Event occurs at 2:33:32. "Although based on a true story, certain elements in this motion picture have been fictionalized for dramatic effect."
- Brenner, Marie (May 1996). "The Man Who Knew Too Much". Vanity Fair.
- Carter, Bill (November 3, 1999). "TV NOTES; Mike Wallace Getting Over It". The New York Times.
- "The Insider". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 5, 2010.
- Weinraub, Bernard (December 3, 1999). "At the Movies". The New York Times. Retrieved March 5, 2010.
- "The Insider". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 5, 2010.
- "The Insider". Metacritic. Retrieved March 5, 2010.
- Ebert, Roger (November 5, 1999). "The Insider". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved March 5, 2010.
- Ansen, David (November 8, 1999). "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes". Newsweek. Retrieved March 5, 2010.
- Maslin, Janet (November 5, 1999). "Mournful Echoes of a Whistle-Blower". The New York Times. Retrieved March 5, 2010.
- Corliss, Richard (November 1, 1999). "Mournful Echoes of a Whistle-Blower". Time. Retrieved March 5, 2010.
- Travers, Peter (December 8, 2000). "The Insider". Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 10, 2011.
- "The Insider". Entertainment Weekly. November 12, 1999. Retrieved March 5, 2010.
- Premiere's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time: 24-1
- "The 72nd Academy Awards (2000) Nominees and Winners". Oscars. Retrieved November 19, 2011.
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains Nominees
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: The Insider (film)|
- The Insider at the Internet Movie Database
- The Insider at allmovie
- The Insider at Rotten Tomatoes
- The Insider at Metacritic
- The Insider at Box Office Mojo
- Jeffrey Wigand's official site.
- Jeffrey Wigand on 60 Minutes, February 4, 1996—transcript of the CBS story.
- Frontline: Smoke in the Eye