The Insider (film)
|Directed by||Michael Mann|
|Produced by||Pieter Jan Brugge
|Screenplay 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 Jeffrey Wigand, a whistleblower in the tobacco industry.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 later aired in a complete and uncensored form on February 4, 1996.
Produced by Touchstone Pictures, 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 seven Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Russell Crowe), Best Cinematography, Best Director, Best Editing, Best Sound and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published.
During a prologue, not directly related to the storyline of this movie, Hezbollah militants in Beirut, Lebanon, escort producer Lowell Bergman (Pacino) to a meeting with Sheikh Fadlallah, the founder of the Hezbollah. Lowell convinces him to grant an interview to Mike Wallace (Plummer) for 60 Minutes, a well-known TV series on CBS. Lowell stands his ground while speaking with the sheikh.
In Louisville, Kentucky, Dr. Jeffrey Wigand (Crowe) leaves his office at the Brown & Williamson (B&W) Tobacco Company and returns to his home, in the upscale suburb of Hurstbourne, on the east side of town, to his wife, Liane (Venora), and to their two daughters, both of whom have serious medical conditions requiring continuing treatment. When Liane asks about the cartons in Jeff's car, he reveals that Thomas Sandefur (Gambon), the CEO of the firm, has fired him. [Wigand, who holds a PhD degree in biochemistry and endocrinology, and who speaks Japanese, has worked at B&W as the corporate VP for research and development.]
During an interlude Mike Wallace in Beirut begins his interview with the sheikh, after both Mike and Lowell have firmly stood their ground against the interviewee’s armed bodyguards, who have tried to hassle, harass, demean, or intimidate them.
After Lowell returns to his home, in Berkeley, California, he receives from an anonymous sender a box containing highly technical documents about the "ignition propensity" of tobacco, which have originated within the firm making Philip Morris cigarettes. He calls a friend at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and asks for the name of someone who can translate the data into laymen's terms. The contact refers him to Wigand, who first rebuffs him. Lowell next travels to Louisville, piques his interest, and meets him at the historic Seelbach Hotel in Louisville.
Wigand agrees to interpret the scientific documents but stresses that he cannot talk about anything else; Bergman senses the existence of something worthy of pursuit or investigation. After leaving with the documents, Wigand receives a summons to a meeting with Sandefur, who seeks to coerce him into signing a more inclusive confidentiality agreement. A company lawyer threatens to immediately take away his family's health benefits and to file suit against him if he does not comply. Wigand does not yet sign (although eventually he does); greatly agitated, he later calls Bergman and accuses him of having betrayed him.
Bergman visits Wigand's house the next day and vigorously insists that he has not revealed anything to B&W, then Wigand, reassured, talks to Bergman about the seven CEOs (whom he calls the seven dwarfs) of "Big Tobacco", who, he says, committed perjury before the Congress of the US while testifying about their pretended lack of awareness of the addictiveness of nicotine. Bergman tells Wigand that he must decide for himself whether to blow the whistle on Big Tobacco.
Bergman returns to the CBS News headquarters, in New York City, where he, Wallace, and others discuss Wigand's situation. A CBS lawyer at the meeting concedes that Wigand's confidentiality agreement effectively silences him. Bergman, however, suggests that, if a court calls Wigand as a witness during a proceeding of some sort against one or more of the firms in Big Tobacco, then the confidentiality agreement would not prevent the court from compelling Wigand to testify. They believe that, if Wigand gives testimony under those circumstances, then afterward he could, without violating the confidentiality agreement, lawfully give an interview for ‘’60 Minutes’’ about the matter revealed in a public deposition (directed by a court).
The Wigand family move into an adequate but more modest house in a different neighborhood, and Wigand gets a job to teach chemistry and Japanese at a high school in Louisville. Soon one night Barbara, the older daughter, awakes Jeff and alerts him to the sounds of someone in the backyard. Jeff arms himself, goes outside, and sees just a raccoon, but he also finds a fresh human footprint in his newly planted garden.
The next night, while Wigand and Bergman eat dinner, Lowell asks Jeff about incidents from his past – incidents which Big Tobacco might use against him – to embarrass him, discredit him, or deflect attention from his testimony. Jeff reveals several incriminating incidents, then he says that he does not see how they would affect his testimony; Bergman assures him that they will.
Bergman contacts Richard Scruggs (Feore), a private attorney, who, with Ron Motley (McGill), another private attorney, acting on behalf of the State of Mississippi in cooperation with Mike Moore, the state attorney general, has filed a suit against Big Tobacco, seeking to require a total of 13 tobacco manufacturers to reimburse the state for Medicaid funds used and other public-health expenses incurred due to the treatment of illnesses induced by smoking. [Mississippi was the first state to sue the tobacco companies, and the attorneys general of 45 other states later joined in the litigation.] Scruggs expresses an interest in Bergman's idea, and he asks him to ask Wigand to call them.
Meanwhile Jeff receives an e-mail death threat against both him and his family, and he finds a bullet in his mailbox, so he contacts the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), some of whose agents not only subtly accuse him of emotional imbalance but also confiscate his computer for “evidence” (for an undisclosed purpose). Some of the agents behave in a questionable manner, then Lowell contacts an official of the FBI in Washington, DC, reports the behavior, and raises a question about the possibility of improper collusion between the agents and certain retired agents now in the employ of Brown & Williamson. The contact person in Washington promises to look into it.
Wigand, enraged over the threats to his family, phones Bergman and demands to fly to New York City immediately to tape an interview.
During Jeff's interview with Mike, Jeff states that B&W, along with others, intentionally makes their cigarettes more addictive, and that the firm has consciously ignored public-health considerations in the interest of profit instead. Jeff describes the chemistry which increases the effect of the nicotine, and he accuses Tom Sandefur, the CEO of B&W, along with the CEOs of the six other major firms in Big Tobacco, of having lied during a hearing before a committee of the Congress of the US.
Jeff begins his new teaching job in Louisville, and he calls Richard Scruggs; one day, when he returns home, he finds Lowell and a security detail of three men, whom Lowell has arranged. Liane, Jeff's wife, struggles under pressure, and she tells him so.
Soon Jeff travels to Pascagoula, Mississippi, to give a deposition; however, while he passes through the passenger terminal at the airport in Louisville, a functionary, with a sloppy and unprofessional gesture, serves him with a copy of a temporary restraining order, which a state court in Kentucky has issued (by a request by B&W), forbidding him from testifying.
Lawyers for B&W have tried to persuade a state judge in Pascagoula to honor the order, but he has thrown it out; however, everyone involved recognizes and agrees that, if Dr. Wigand testifies in Mississippi and returns to Kentucky, then he could face the possibility of his arrest and jailing for contempt of court (due to his alleged disobedience of the order of the Kentucky court).
In Pascagoula Jeff talks with Scruggs, Motley, and Moore, then, after long and intense introspection, he makes a decision; he goes to a Mississippi court and, after a display of courtroom fireworks among the attorneys, including one on behalf of B&W, gives his deposition, during which he says that nicotine acts as a drug.
Afterward Jeff returns to Louisville and to his home, where he finds that Liane has left him and has taken their daughters with her; later she files for divorce.
At the CBS News headquarters the legal counsel for CBS News, Helen Caperelli (Gershon), summons Bergman, Wallace, and others, including Don Hewitt (Hall), the creator and the executive producer of 60 Minutes. Caperelli invokes and describes a legal theory, called tortious interference (with a contractual relationship): If two parties have an agreement, such as a confidentiality agreement, and if a third party induces one of those first two parties to break the agreement, then the aggrieved party has a right to sue each of the other two for damages for any loss incurred due to the breach. The more truth Wigand tells, the greater the potential damage, the theory says, along with a greater likelihood that CBS may face a multi-billion-dollar lawsuit by Brown & Williamson.
Later Eric Kluster (Tobolowsky), the president of CBS News, announces his decision to air an “alternate” abbreviated segment in the place of the original one, omitting the interview with Wigand; Bergman vehemently disagrees.
Bergman also reveals a recent discovery, which he believes to be the real reason for which several highly placed CBS executives have begun leaning on CBS News to edit the segment – that is, the fear that the possibility of a suit by B&W might jeopardize the pending sale of CBS to Westinghouse, along with the fear of the possibility of the loss or reduction of profits to certain CBS executives who own substantial numbers of shares of stock in CBS. Bergman quotes from a document in a filing now before the SEC, which names specific people who would benefit from the pending sale, including Helen Caperelli, who would receive a profit of 3.9 million dollars, and Eric Kluster, 1.4 million dollars. [The CEO of CBS at that time, Laurence Tisch, owned almost 25 percent of the stock outstanding in CBS; he owned also a corporation which owned the Lorillard Tobacco Company, which was then the fifth largest such firm in the US.]
Wallace and Hewitt agree to edit the segment, leaving Bergman alone to advocate airing it uncensored.
In an attempt to discredit Dr. Wigand and his testimony, one or more of the members of Big Tobacco hire the firm of Terry Linzner, a well-known investigative lawyer, based in Washington, DC, which then starts a smear campaign against Wigand by dredging every possible tiny negative detail from his personal history and by turning over the information to the public-relations (PR) firm of John Scanlon (Torn), in New York City, which then publishes and circulates a 500-page dossier to various people in the news media.
Bergman obtains a copy of that document, which contains numerous false, twisted, distorted, and exaggerated claims; he also learns that an editor at The Wall Street Journal will soon publish an article about Wigand and his perceived credibility. However, Bergman contacts the editor and persuades him to delay the story long enough to obtain a verification. Bergman arranges for Jack Palladino (playing himself), an attorney and investigator, based in San Francisco, California, to evaluate the dossier, then he presents the results to the editor of the Journal, who in turn delays the deadline and assigns two of his reporters to examine Bergman’s (that is, Palladino’s) findings, which include the discovery of a number of misrepresentations of the quotations from sources listed in the dossier from Linzner, Scanlon, and Big Tobacco.
Still, though, because of the infighting at CBS News about the segment, Don Hewitt orders Bergman to take a “vacation” for a while – “now”.
Soon 60 Minutes airs the abbreviated segment – without the full interview with Dr. Wigand, then with some difficulty Lowell completes a telephone call to Jeff, who eventually speaks with him in an extremely angry, agitated, and displeased way. Jeff accuses Lowell of having manipulated him; Lowell defends not only his own motive and behavior but also the value of Jeff and his testimony.
From a distant part of the US, while waiting for a different major news story to break, Lowell calls an editor at The New York Times and confirms to him a rumor which he had already heard – that 60 Minutes was “sitting on something explosive” – along with the revelation that CBS corporate executives had forced the withdrawal of the full interview – that corporate executives had dictated “what is or is not the news”; the contact consults a managing editor, who decides to place the story on page 1, and who indicates a possibility of “editorial interest”, so Lowell provides the details. The next morning the entire sordid story starts on the front page of The New York Times, and a scathing editorial severely criticizes CBS, accusing it of having “betrayed the legacy of Edward R. Murrow”.
The Wall Street Journal promptly follows with its analysis of the 500-page dossier, which says in part that “most of it seems pretty unsubstantiated”; it quotes Richard Scruggs, calling it “the worst kind of an organized smear campaign against a whistle-blower”. The Journal continues, “A close look at the file and independent research by this newspaper into its key claim indicate that many of the serious allegations [against Dr. Wigand] are backed by scant or contradictory evidence”, and it specifically refutes the Big Tobacco smear campaign as “the lowest form of character assassination”. The Journal further prints Jeff’s deposition (from Mississippi) in its entirety.
Eventually 60 Minutes airs the original segment, including the full interview with Dr. Wigand by Mike Wallace.
Lowell then tells Mike that, despite the belated broadcast of the uncensored segment, he intends to quit, saying, “What got broken here doesn’t go back together again”.
After the last scene the movie ends with a written presentation of certain details about the outcome:
- In 1996 Dr. Wigand received the award of the Sallie Mae First-class Teacher of the Year, as one of 51 such recipients nationwide.
- In November 1998 B&W and three other tobacco manufacturers (Philip Morris, Lorillard, and R.J. Reynolds) entered into a settlement agreement with the attorneys general of 46 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. [Already Florida, Minnesota, Mississippi, and Texas had reached their own respective individual agreements with the tobacco industry.] The master agreement calls for the four tobacco firms to pay about 206 billion dollars to the states, most of which (about 183 billion dollars) is payable in annual installments from 2000 through 2025.
- Lowell Bergman in 2014 holds an endowed distinguished professorship in the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley; he also serves as a producer and correspondent for the Frontline series at PBS.
- 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's initial 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 is 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
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
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains Nominees
- "The 72nd Academy Awards (2000) Nominees and Winners". Oscars. Retrieved November 19, 2011.
|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