Will This Movie About Hillary Clinton Get Made?

Slate's Culture Blog
Dec. 18 2012 9:16 AM

Will This Movie About Hillary Clinton Get Made?

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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Photo by KEVIN LAMARQUE/AFP/Getty Images

One of the most intriguing scripts described on this year’s “Black List”—a yearly round-up of the most popular unproduced screenplays in Hollywood—is Rodham, written by Young-Il Kim. The scripts are ranked according to their popularity among a group of Hollywood executives, and Rodham is near the very top, at no. 4. Here is the description:

During the height of the Watergate scandal, rising star Hillary Rodham is the youngest lawyer chosen for the House Judiciary Committee to Impeach Nixon, but she soon finds herself forced to choose between a destined path to the White House and her unresolved feelings for Bill Clinton, her former boyfriend who now teaches law in Arkansas.
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I want to watch that movie. I became even more interested after talking to Young-Il Kim on the phone: He told me that the script begins when Hillary Rodham is selected for the House judiciary committee, and that it ends with the moment that Nixon resigns. During this six or seven month period, Kim told me, Bill Clinton was making his first campaign for political office, running for the U.S. Congress in Arkansas. (He lost.) Kim said he learned while researching the story that Hillary Rodham “didn’t know whether she wanted to be with Bill or not” at the time, and so the “script focuses on her journey” during this stretch trying to decide whether to join Bill in Arkansas or keep pursuing her career in Washington. This all happened to take place, Kim pointed out to me, as the Equal Rights Amendment was moving through the state legislatures. (Its progress was beginning to stall.)

So will this movie get made?

The chances are not bad. Because the Black List is a survey of Hollywood executives, a screenplay will not wind up on there unless it is already making the rounds. Yesterday, IndieWire looked at the top 10 scripts from past years; a large percentage of them have in fact become (or are on their way to becoming) feature films. The obvious public interest in Hillary Clinton will likely help, too, obviously. Kim read dozens of books and articles as research for the script, which is not based on any one source; the Clintons are public figures, of course, and their cooperation or agreement is not legally required. Most importantly, a major production company, Temple Hill, is already working to get financing for the film. (Kim could not tell me who was in the running to play the young Hillary and the young Bill; let me know whom you would cast in the comments.)

Kim majored in economics at Harvard and worked in the dotcom world after college, before deciding just over a decade ago to try his hand at screenwriting. He does not have any produced screenplays to his credit; his script about a family of Korean immigrants, Hyung’s Overture, won multiple awards, but when he wrote Rodham he was unrepresented. The script got him his current management and agents. “When I wrote it, at the time,” he told me, “I was just hoping someone from Hollywood would read it.”

David Haglund is a senior editor at Slate. He runs Brow Beat, Slate's culture blog.