The Reliable Source

By Ann Gerhart and Annie Groer

Tobacco Wars on the Big Screen

Dapper Mississippi liability lawyer Dick Scruggs had spent the day on Capitol Hill a few weeks back tending to details of the national tobacco settlement he helped broker. But he still had an intriguing evening appointment to keep.

Inside an elegant Willard Hotel suite, holding a script he'd never seen, Scruggs read lines with Al Pacino for Michael Mann, who's directing a still-untitled Touchstone Pictures production.

For nearly a half-hour, Scruggs said, he auditioned to play himself in a movie about Jeffrey Wiggand, the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. whistle-blower, and Lowell Bergman, a "60 Minutes" producer. Bergman wanted to air Wiggand's allegations of tobacco industry chicanery, but CBS brass killed the interview. Then Wiggand retained Scruggs after the tobacco giant sued him for breaking a lifetime secrecy pact.

And how did Scruggs's audition go? "After dinner, the director patted me on the head and said, 'Dick, we may be getting a professional actor. You're fired.' "

There are, however, no hard feelings, Scruggs said. The film crew has already been scoping out his Pascagoula home, and Mann starts shooting next month in Louisville, home of Brown & Williamson's headquarters. [END]

Then the article goes on to talk about something completely different.

courtesy Jenny