Steven Spielberg May Direct a Walter Cronkite Biopic
In recent years, Steven Spielberg has oscillated between two kinds of movies. He makes big broad adventure and fantasy films in the style of the classic blockbusters that built his reputation (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, The Adventures of Tintin, The BFG) and more serious historical films about people shaping crucial world events (Munich, Lincoln, Bridge of Spies). With Ready Player One and Indiana Jones 5 already on the horizon, Spielberg will need some more historical material to maintain that balance.
Deadline reports that he may have found it in a new project about iconic TV news anchor Walter Cronkite from screenwriter Matt Charman, who co-wrote the script for Spielberg’s terrific movie from last fall, Bridge of Spies. Like Lincoln, the film would eschew the classic biopic structure to hone in on just one one particular aspect of Cronkite’s career:
The project will focus on Cronkite’s relationship with the Vietnam War and the role that America’s most trusted newsman played in turning public opinion against the increasingly un-winnable conflict. So influential was the CBS Evening News anchor that then-President Lyndon Baines Johnson is believed to have remarked, “If I’ve lost Walter Cronkite, I’ve lost middle America.”
It’s “early days in terms of Spielberg committing to directing” according to Deadline, and Spielberg typically keeps a lot of potentially projects on his plate so that he can pick the one that seems the best when he’s ready to shoot something. This Cronkite picture will be fighting for his attention with Ready Player One, Indy 5, and several others. But given the themes of Lincoln and Bridge of Spies about moral men refusing to bend their principles in the face of overwhelming pressure, this Cronkite film could be the perfect way to cap off an unofficial trilogy about American values in periods of crisis. And what could be more timely right now than that?