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CULTURE

New Documentary Focuses on Fox News Founder Roger Ailes

Premiering this month at film festivals worldwide is documentary feature titled Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes, chronicling the triumph and downfall of the late founder of Fox News.

The film is directed and produced by Alexis Bloom (Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds), and will be released by A&E IndieFilms and Jigsaw Productions.

Roger Ailes 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 of 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, which will also air the documentary later this year. “This film is highly relevant for the times we are living in and sheds light on how we got where we are today.”

“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 director Bloom.

“I think with Fox News, he capitalized on this understanding of fear to build a channel that manipulated the fears of others,” Bloom added. “This story was compelling because the personal and the political wove together in a way that was both reinforcing, and profoundly distorting.”

Ailes will also be the subject of an upcoming Showtime mini-series starring Russell Crowe. Additionally, a feature is in development about the women of Fox News, with Margot Robbie, Nicole Kidman, and Charlize Theron set to star.

“Alexis Bloom 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,” said Alex Gibney, president of Jigsaw Productions.

“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?”

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 is also a multiple Emmy-winner.

Divide and Conquer will air on A&E following a festival and theatrical run this fall.

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