Well before its Dec. 13 debut, the movie “Richard Jewell” was already stirring local memories of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing – and controversy about its portrayal of an Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter.
The Clint Eastwood-directed, Atlanta-made movie sets out to ensure the legacy of Jewell, a heroic security guard who was briefly, and wrongly, targeted by the FBI as a top bombing suspect. However, the film is opening to intense controversy over its treatment of the AJC’s Kathy Scruggs as supposedly offering sex for a scoop.
The real bomber was right-wing terrorist Eric Rudolph, who went on to bomb sites in Sandy Springs, Atlanta and Alabama.
Local reactions and memories include a historic panel discussion of key figures at the Atlanta History Center, a Dunwoody man who took news photos of Rudolph’s campaign of terror, and a friend of Eastwood’s who visited the “Richard Jewell” set.
The following is a roundup of the Reporter’s recent coverage related to the Olympics bombing, Richard Jewell and the film.
Dunwoody man’s news photos captured Sandy Springs blast, other moments in Olympic bomber’s terror campaign
At the time of the bombings, Dunwoody resident Alan Mothner was a news photographer who took dramatic photos of the aftermath of the Sandy Springs blast.
Former Fulton County Police officer Steve Rose, public relations executive Mitch Leff and Reporter Editor-At-Large Joe Earle share memories of Rudolph’s bombings.
Curators at the Atlanta History Center discuss their remake of the Atlanta Olympics exhibit, including how to handle the bombing.
A major panel discussion at the Atlanta History Center addressed the Jewell case. On stage were a former federal prosecutor and former AJC editor involved in the case; in the audience were Jewell’s widow and former attorney, among other notable figures.
Last year, attorney L. Lin Wood recalled his work suing media outlets – including the AJC – for libel on Jewell’s behalf and his hope that Jewell would be remembered as a hero.
AJC blasts ‘Richard Jewell’ movie’s reporter portrayal; will host private screenings in Sandy Springs
While threatening to sue the filmmakers for libel, the AJC arranged private screenings of “Richard Jewell” for subscribers at a Sandy Springs movie theater, where Editor Kevin Riley was to discuss and critique the film.
A local jazz musician who is Eastwood’s friend and the owner of a popular nightclub are among those with memories of the making of “Richard Jewell.”
Wood, the attorney who once sued the AJC on Jewell’s behalf, is now defending Scruggs against the movie’s portrayal.