A&E IndieFilms has unveiled documentary feature film “Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes” from Alex Gibney’s Jigsaw Productions.
The project is directed and produced by Alexis Bloom (“Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds”) and described as “origin story” told through the triumph and downfall of the late Roger Ailes, founder of Fox News. He launched the careers of TV news figures including Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, and Megyn Kelly, then resigned in 2016 amid multiple accusations of sexual harassment. He died in May, 2017, at the age of 77.
“’Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes’ is a fascinating look at a man who was at times brilliant and at times divisive, but whose impact on American politics and media will be felt for generations to come,” said Molly Thompson of A+E Networks. “This film is highly relevant for the times we are living in and sheds light on how we got where we are today.”
Ailes is the subject of a Showtime miniseries with Russell Crowe starring. Annapurna is developing a feature about the women of Fox News, with Margot Robbie, Nicole Kidman, and Charlize Theron set to star.
“Better than anyone else, Roger Ailes understood the secret to entertainment — and also to a particular brand of politics — was to highlight conflict over dialogue, heat over light. He tapped into something primal in the audience,” said Bloom. “Roger lived his life on intimate terms with fear — he was diagnosed with hemophilia when he was four, and was told he’d die when he was twelve. I think with Fox News, he capitalized on this understanding of fear to build a channel that manipulated the fears of others. This story was compelling because the personal and the political wove together in a way that was both reinforcing, and profoundly distorting.”
Gibney won an Oscar for the documentary “Taxi to the Dark Side” and received an Oscar nomination for “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room.” He directed and produced “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief,” which won three Emmys.
“Alexis Bloom – a gifted storyteller who produced my film, ‘We Steal Secrets’ — has made a powerful film that radiates heat and light, stirring outrage over abuses of power by Ailes and the network he created, even as it gives us a deep understanding of how Ailes exploited – for great commercial gain — the deep tribal animosities that are tearing our country apart,” Gibney said. “The film’s insights into Ailes himself – a man possessed by boundless profession ambition, and haunted by deep personal fears – helps us understand the appeal of his greatest creation, Fox News, which has found a way to monetize abuse and steer the search for truth into a gaudy pageant of vitriol that evokes the gladiator’s cry: Are we not entertained?”
Following a film festival and theatrical run, the documentary will air on A&E. Cinetic Media is handling sales for the film.
“Divide and Conquer: The Roger Ailes Story” is produced by Jigsaw Productions in association with Baird Films. Bloom and Will Cohen are the producers. Thompson, Elaine Frontain Bryant, and Robert Sharenow are executive producers for A&E IndieFilms. Gibney is the executive producer for Jigsaw Productions. Stacey Offman is also an executive producer along with Dan Cogan, Jenny Raskin, Regina K. Scully, Geralyn White Dreyfous, and Maiken Baird are also executive producers.