In Showtime’s latest miniseries, Russell Crowe stars as a famed media network’s founder while viewers follow him through his widely publicized rise and fall. The true story behind The Loudest Voice is one you’re probably at least a little familiar with, given the sheer number of headlines that surrounded it just a couple years ago. The show is based on Gabriel Sherman’s book, The Loudest Voice in the Room, and Crowe’s character is none other than the late Roger Ailes, the genius behind Fox News who was accused by multiple women of sexual harassment and inappropriate workplace behavior.
According to CNN, Ailes was the head honcho at Fox News for 20 years. He was always controversial because of his political leanings and his network’s tendency to be reportedly inaccurate or misleading. But the scandal he’s perhaps best known for broke in 2016.
In July of that year, former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson (played by Naomi Watts in the series) claimed she was fired for reportedly "refusing Ailes’ sexual advances," CNN reports. Fewer than two weeks later, New York magazine broke the story that another Fox host, Megyn Kelly, told investigators that Ailes had allegedly sexually harassed heras well. Kelly herself later spoke publicly about the alleged harassment, expanding upon it in her book.
Ailes denied that he’d committed any wrongdoings, but in the weeks following Kelly’s comments, he resigned.
The allegations didn’t stop there, though. New York magazine reported just weeks later that the former director of Fox News’ booking, Laurie Luhn, played by Annabelle Wallis in The Loudest Voice, alleged that Ailes allegedly harassed her for more than 20 years, and that Fox News executives reportedly helped sweep it under the rug. Another former Fox News host, Andrea Tantaros, filed a lawsuit against Ailes and Bill O’Reilly for sexual harassment (it was later dismissed).
According to Vanity Fair, The Loudest Voice will go deep into these scandals surrounding Ailes, who died in 2017, and "depicts some of the most shocking and explicit allegations made against Ailes, including serial harassment, misogyny, and sexual and psychological enslavement." It also wants to get into who Ailes was as a person aside from his allegations, Crowe told Vanity Fair, in an effort to prevent such behavior from occurring again.
"Yes, he had moral conflicts with the choices he made in his life and certainly [had] inexcusable behavior that was very destructive to other people," Crowe said. "But if there’s anything at all to learn, we all should be looking to examine things on how someone like Roger Ailes got to this place, and to prevent this from happening again. That is one of the things that we do on the show."
Sherman, the author of The Loudest Voice in the Room, who also covered Ailes’ allegations for New York magazine, is a writer on the show, so viewers can probably expect the Showtime series to follow the same research and journalistic notes that he employed while covering the real-life events.
His book is described by a Washington Post review as having "22 chapters and 500 pages of exacting prose and protracted source notes," despite the fact that Fox News condemned the work, saying it was never fact-checked by them. The Post reports that Sherman attempted to speak with Ailes first-hand for the book and "secure his cooperation" before Ailes’ death, but says he was told by the network that he "must refrain from using any background quotes or anecdotes that Ailes could consider ‘negative,’" so he declined.
The Loudest Voice isn’t the only biopic of Ailes coming to screens — an untitled Ailes-focused project starring the likes of John Lithgow, Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Allison Janney, Margot Robbie and Kate McKinnon is coming along from director Jay Roach and writer Charles Randolph, who also wrote The Big Short. When all is said and done, viewers will have plenty of content about the Fox News head to consider in his absence.
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