REFILE-Director abandons CNN documentary on Hillary Clinton

Mon Sep 30, 2013 10:21pm IST

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By Liana B. Baker and Gabriel Debenedetti

Sept 30 (Reuters) - Cable news network CNN has canceled a documentary on Hillary Rodham Clinton after the director said pressure from the Clinton camp as well as Republican leaders made it too difficult to complete the film.

A CNN spokeswoman confirmed on Monday that the program would be canceled, saying director "Charles Ferguson has informed us that he is not moving forward with his documentary about Hillary Clinton."

Political observers widely expect Clinton to run for president in 2016 as her early polling numbers make her the Democratic frontrunner. Clinton, the former U.S. Secretary of State, has said she is still considering her options.

In a blog post on the Huffington Post website, Ferguson, who had been tapped by CNN to direct to the film last year, said pressure from Clinton's aides started as soon as he joined the project. He said he had found it difficult to get anyone to cooperate and speak about Clinton.

"When I approached people for interviews, I discovered that nobody, and I mean nobody, was interested in helping me make this film. Not Democrats, not Republicans - and certainly nobody who works with the Clintons, (who) wants access to the Clintons, or dreams of a position in a Hillary Clinton administration," Ferguson said in the blog post.

Clinton representatives could not be reached for comment.

Ferguson said he was surprised that "prominent Democrats made it known both to CNN and to me" that they weren't happy with the project.

Ferguson also cited pushback from the Republican Party. In August, Republican leaders sent letters of protest to both CNN and NBC, complaining that their planned programs amounted to political ads for Clinton, the wife of former President Bill Clinton.

The NBC television network is planning a dramatic miniseries from its entertainment unit, which is separate from its news division. NBC did not immediately return a request for comment on Monday.

Republican leaders had resolved to boycott any 2016 presidential debates sponsored by CNN, which is owned by Time Warner Inc, and NBC, owned by Comcast Corp, if the networks went ahead with the projects.

Ferguson said he was not pressured by CNN to cancel the project, and that the network's president, Jeff Zucker, had pledged his support behind the film.

"Neither political party wanted the film made. After painful reflection, I decided that I couldn't make a film of which I would be proud. And so I'm cancelling," Ferguson said in the blog post. (Reporting by Liana B. Baker in New York and Gabriel Debenedetti in Washington; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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