London Times battle to be a movie

Brit shingle buys project based on book by former editor

Rupert Murdoch’s fierce battles with one of his British editors are to be turned into a feature film that will also reference the phone-hacking scandal at the News of the World.

U.K. shingle What’s It all About? Prods. has acquired film and TV rights to Harold Evans’ bestseller “Good Times, Bad Times,” the recently updated account of his testy relationship with Murdoch when Evans edited the Times.

Evans, who had edited the Sunday Times for 14 years, resigned from the paper over what he considered to be unacceptable pressure from Murdoch regarding editorial independence

A screenplay is yet to be written, but Leon Lecash, creative director of What’s It all About?, is optimistic that the pic will start filming near the end of the year.

Talks with a potential production partner are under way, and a writer is being scouted.

As well as a starring role for thesps playing Evans and Murdoch, who bought the Times in 1981 amid controversy, there is likely to be a cameo as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

Earlier this year, papers from the Thatcher archive revealed that a secret meeting took place between she and Murdoch at which the prime minister was informed of the mogul’s intention to bid for the U.K. newspaper, regarded at the time as the voice of the British establishment. Murdoch had always denied the existence of any meeting with Thatcher.

“Good Times, Bad Times” tells the story of Harold Evans’ editorship of perhaps the world’s most famous titles: The Times and the Sunday Times of London, and especially focuses on his battle with Rupert Murdoch for editorial control of the titles, Lecash said.

“Recent stories surrounding Rupert Murdoch’s companies both here and in America have brought the events of almost 30 years ago back into sharp focus,” Lecash added. “I have always realized the dramatic potential of ‘Good Times, Bad Times.’ Now, as events unfold daily, I realized the time could never be better to bring this story of ultimate justice and spiritual vindication to the screen.”

Lecash’s recent Michael Jackson docu “Michael Jackson and the Doctor — A Fatal Friendship” was broadcast worldwide, including a screening on NBC in the U.S.

“Good Times, Bad Times” is produced by Lecash and Cary Woods. Executive producer is Alex Butler.

U.K. media commentator Steve Hewlett, who has followed the phone-hacking scandal in all its juicy detail, is a consultant on the production.