Paramount Pictures has set “Nip/Tuck” creator and exec producer Ryan Murphy to write and direct an adaptation of John Jeter’s play “Dirty Tricks,” with Meryl Streep starring as Martha Mitchell, the whistle-blowing wife of Nixon chief of staff John Mitchell.
Murphy, who will produce with Plan B’s Dede Gardner and Brad Pitt, has put together a strong cast. Annette Bening will play White House correspondent Helen Thomas, the recipient of many of Mitchell’s leaks. Gwyneth Paltrow will play Maureen Dean, the wife of John Dean who, unlike Mitchell, stood squarely behind her man as the administration went down in scandal. And Jill Clayburgh will play Pat Nixon, who grew to loathe Mitchell for destabilizing the presidency.
Murphy said he’d been looking for a project for Streep and knew he’d found it when he saw Jeter’s play at the Public Theater last fall. Murphy put up his own money to option the screen rights from the playwright.
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“John loved my idea for the movie, the focus on a period in the country when both feminism and political corruption exploded in Washington,” Murphy said.
Midway through the third season of his FX series, Murphy hopes to shoot “Dirty Tricks” by next spring.
Story’s core is the high price paid by the eccentric Mitchell, particularly after the Republicans resorted to dirty tricks to silence her.
“She was viewed as eccentric, and the Republicans realized the only way to shut her up was to discredit her,” Murphy said. “She paid a high price for her candor in speaking out against injustice. Mitchell divorced her and took the kids.”
Bening, Paltrow and Clayburgh just completed work on the Murphy-directed adaptation of Augusten Burroughs’ memoir “Running With Scissors,” a Plan B-produced pic that TriStar will release next year.