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The McCanns' Movie *

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On 08 January 2008, it was announced that the McCanns planned to make a movie about Madeleine's disappearance.
 
The resultant uproar saw them quickly revise the story to insist that any such project, if it went ahead, would be a documentary rather than a film.

Jon Gaunt talks with Clarence Mitchell - TalkSport 09 January 2008

Clarence Mitchell gets angry when discussing the 'movie', 09 January 2008

 

Clarence Mitchell says: "There is no movie. Kate and Gerry have talked to no company, I have spoken to one production err...  firm err.. as part of our overall contact with the media. Err... the suggestion in some of the papers today that there is a Hollywood blockbuster on the way is laughable. It is not only a distortion and an exaggeration, it's also quite untrue".
 
Comment: Although it is technically true to say that Kate and Gerry themselves have 'talked to no company', it is a rather misleading statement. In mid-December, a 'representative' of the McCanns attended a meeting with IMG - The world's largest entertainment agency - to discuss the project, along with Clarence Mitchell.
 
One presumes this 'representative' would have been Jon Corner, given his production experience, his previous filming of the McCanns and his subsequent appointment onto the board of Madeleine's Fund, but this remains unconfirmed.

Film, documentary or good way to hide some bad news?
The announcement on 08 January 2008 that the McCanns planned to sanction a film based on Madeleine's disappearance caused instant uproar and revulsion.
 
Such was the backlash that Gerry was forced to write a rare blog in a vain attempt to try and reverse the tide of public opinion. He now insisted that they were not considering a film but a documentary, along the lines of those already produced by the BBC, Channel 4 and Sky News. However, first reports of the project clearly indicate that it was a film or TV drama that was planned.
 
GMTV stated in its report on 08 January 2008 that the project had initially been discussed in mid-December. At that meeting, comprising Clarence Mitchell, a representative of the McCanns and an unidentified person from the film agency IMG, they apparently discussed the possibility of a film or TV drama based around Madeleine's disappearance.
 
We need to clarify here that IMG is the world's largest entertainment agency. It is not the world's largest documentary agency. They are in the business of producing entertainment and if the McCanns wanted a boots and braces documentary, as they now insist, then surely IMG was not the right agency for them and the project should have been dismissed out of hand.
 
The Daily Mail reports that: 'If the deal goes ahead with IMG, it would involve the same team which made Touching The Void, the award-winning drama-documentary about two British mountaineers' fight for survival in the Peruvian Andes. It interspersed interviews with the mountaineers, Joe Simpson and Simon Yates, with a dramatic reconstruction of events, using actors.'
 
Although Touching the Void is a wonderful film, it must be remembered that it is drama-documentary. Drama comes first because the first aim of the movie is to entertain the public. Would Touching the Void have been so engrossing if it had been based around one of the mountaineers' discussing their fight for survival by means of a flip-chart?
 
So, we can conclude that any 'movie' from IMG, no doubt sensitively handled, would be an entertainment vehicle - not an attempt to produce a serious and factually accurate review of Madeleine's disappearance.
 
By 09 January 2008, Team McCann, and their staunch allies in the media, were now steadfastly referring to the project as a 'documentary'. The belief being, obviously, that people will accept a serious documentary but not a lights-down, popcorn munching piece of entertainment.
 
But was this all a smokescreen? Clarence Mitchell, from his days in the media, would know all about burying bad news. So, was there any bad news that needed to be buried at this time? After all, we must question why the story broke on that particular day.
 
In actual fact, it wouldn't be the first time that Clarence Mitchell had buried some bad news for the McCanns.
 
In the immediate aftermath of the infamous Spanish interview, where Kate allegedly showed 'real emotion', and the following day when the artist's impression of the 'abductor' was released, a little piece of news went unreported in the English press. But it was very significant.
 
The McCanns, through Mr Mitchell, admitted that the shutter to the window of their holiday apartment had not been forced. Here was an extremely significant piece of news, going contrary to the sensational stories the McCanns spread themselves through friends and relatives at the time, that got buried under the furore over whether Kate shed tears or not.
 
"There was no evidence of a break-in," said Mr Mitchell to RTE's Prime Time and reported in the Irish Independent on 25 October 2007.  
 
So, what can we see buried beneath this 'movie' story? Two very crucial things that are very bad news for the McCanns.
 
Firstly, reports had allegedly confirmed that blood samples recovered from the McCanns' apartment in PDL, and their Renault Scenic hire car, were definitely from Madeleine and secondly, that Esther McVey, and another member of the board of Madeleine's Fund, had resigned.
 
On Esther McVey's resignation, Clarence Mitchell later provided a statement claiming that the split was amicable and that Ms McVey needed time to concentrate on other projects. Unfortunately, and perhaps a little surprisingly - given the high profile of the case, Esther McVey has, so far, failed to issue any statement.
 
There was no further confirmation, or denial, of further board members resigning. Why? Because everyone was talking about the film. Which, let us remember, could only be made if Kate and Gerry were to be released from their arguido status.
 
The Policia Judiciaria have given no indication that they intend to follow that course of action, so we can comfortably assume that this film is unlikely to see the light of day anytime soon.
 
At least, not in the form the McCanns desire. 

GMTV report (original link)
Madeleine movie? GMTV
 
Last updated: 8 January 2008
 
The parents of Madeleine McCann are considering giving the go-ahead to a film about their missing daughter

Following an approach by a major entertainment firm, Kate and Gerry McCann may approve a movie about missing Madeleine's disappearance.

The couple's spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, confirmed that a meeting with the agency IMG took place last month but he added that Gerry and Kate McCann did not attend and nothing has yet been agreed.

Mr Mitchell said a film would be considered only if the McCanns believed it would help raise awareness of the case or if it could help fund the search for the missing four-year-old.

Madeleine's Fund

The matter is expected to be discussed further when directors of the Madeleine Fund meet later this week. It is believed that IMG, the firm behind the award-winning drama-documentary Touching The Void, made the initial.

A resulting meeting in mid-December discussed the possibility of making the story of Madeleine - who vanished from her family's Praia da Luz holiday apartment in May - into either a film or a TV drama.

Mr and Mrs McCann were aware of the meeting but did not attend in person. Instead, Mr Mitchell and another representative of the McCanns met IMG at the firm's London offices.

Early days

Mr Mitchell said it was just one of many approaches that have been made by media companies. The spokesman said: "We have only had one very tentative discussion with IMG. It may or may not happen.

"If we feel any particular proposal in the media has validity in helping us find Madeleine, we are happy to discuss it. The media are making money out of the situation themselves and we feel it is only fair and right that some aspect of that should come to the fund
to help find Madeleine.

"In this case we have had one meeting before Christmas. It was between myself, one other person and representatives from IMG.''

Mr Mitchell said Mr and Mrs McCann are routinely made aware of all proposals that could help raise the profile of the search for their missing daughter or raise funds to assist in finding her. But he stressed that nothing had been agreed with IMG.

"There are no plans for any further meetings at this stage. The ball is in our court to see if we want to go forward,'' he said.

*

This report was subsequently updated on 15 February 2008, making two changes to the original text as reproduced above:

1) The headline changed from 'Madeleine movie?' to 'Madeleine documentary?'

2) The sub-heading changed from 'Madeleine's Fund' to 'The Madeleine Fund'. This being a very significant change, indicating the McCanns wider agenda of becoming ambassadors for the cause of all missing children.

Gerry McCann denies any film will be made, 09 January 2008

Kate and Gerry 'plan 2m film deal' as Madeleine Fund dwindles Daily Mail

But Gerry denies any film will be made

By VANESSA ALLEN - Last updated at 09:06am on 9th January 2008

Kate and Gerry McCann could make 2million from a film deal over the story of their daughter's disappearance, it has been claimed.

Representatives of the couple have begun negotiations with the world's largest entertainment agency, IMG, over selling the rights to their story.

They hope a lucrative deal would fund the continuing search for Madeleine amid fears that the 1.2million raised from public donations will run out within months.

But Gerry McCann was quick to deny the story.

In his latest blog entry on the official Find Madeleine website, he wrote: "We can categorically deny that we are considering a movie about Madeleine's disappearance.

"This is simply untrue. We are approached by a huge number of media outlets regarding a myriad of projects, only a tiny proportion of which we agree to.

"Each proposal is considered on whether it is likely to have a positive effect, either directly or indirectly, on the search for Madeleine.

"There was a preliminary discussion between a production agency and a representative of Kate and I to discuss the possibility of a documentary about the issues we have faced since Madeleine was abducted.

"Clearly Europe is a long way behind the USA in terms of its response when a child goes missing."

Gerry's statement follows warnings that the McCanns would risk a public backlash if they were perceived to be cashing in on the eight-month tragedy.

So far the McCanns, both 39, have turned down offers from big-name chat shows and television dramas as they were anxious to avoid being seen as celebrities.

However the flood of donations after Madeleine went missing on May 3 slowed to a trickle when they were named as police suspects in September.

The couple's spokesman Clarence Mitchell confirmed that their representatives began talks with IMG last month, and said they would consider only "something done sensitively and considerately".

At the same time, however, Portuguese police are preparing to fly to Britain to oversee fresh interviews with the couple and the group of seven friends who were on holiday with them in Praia da Luz when Madeleine vanished.

Even now, leaks from inside the inquiry have suggested that police believe they have enough evidence to charge the couple, possibly with 'accidental homicide', hiding a body or faking a crime.

A publicist, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the high-profile case, said: "It seems extraordinary to be negotiating film rights while they are still suspects in the investigation. It's a huge risk."

The McCanns set up the Find Madeleine fund in May to finance the search for their four-year-old daughter. It has been used to fund a private detective agency, Metodo 3, and to pay their living costs while they both took extended unpaid leave from their jobs as doctors.

But it hit controversy last year when it was revealed that they had used the public donations to pay two 2,000 instalments of the mortgage on their 500,000 house in Rothley, Leicestershire.

The directors of the fund - mostly friends and colleagues of the McCanns - control how the money is used. They are due to meet today and are expected to discuss the film deal proposal.

If the deal goes ahead with IMG, it would involve the same team which made Touching The Void, the award-winning drama-documentary about two British mountaineers' fight for survival in the Peruvian Andes. It interspersed interviews with the mountaineers, Joe Simpson and Simon Yates, with a dramatic reconstruction of events, using actors.

A film about the McCanns' search for their daughter could use a similar format, but only if Mr and Mrs McCann were formally cleared as arguidos, official suspects, in the inquiry. While they remain arguidos they are banned from speaking publicly about the events of May 3 and the police investigation.

The company which made Touching the Void, Darlow Smithson Productions, has sent Mr and Mrs McCann a tape to show them how it would treat their story. A spokesman said the firm "had a preliminary meeting with representatives of the McCanns about the possibility of an observational documentary following the ongoing search for Madeleine.

"Discussions are still at a very early stage and the issue of money has never been raised."

Jonathan Dean, of the magazine Total Film, said he believed the movie rights could go for up to 2million. Disgraced banker Nick Leeson earned a reported 450,000 when he sold the rights to his autobiography, Rogue Trader.

Offers to Austrian kidnap victim Natascha Kampusch were said to have topped 1million.

Clarence Mitchell said: "We've not agreed anything, we're not about to sign anything. We like the proposal, we thought it was fair, but there are others."

He added: "It would be commercially naive if we did not ask for a donation to the Madeleine fund. We would be giving up the rights to a lot of money which could help to find her.

"Any money raised that way would go to the fund, which Kate and Gerry do not control. This is not about personal gain for them.

"Madeleine's Fund is spent on investigators and advertising. It's dwindling. The money is going. I would imagine we've got a few months left. It's not going to last the year unless we get more money in."

Mr Mitchell said a book deal was also being considered "at some point down the line". He confirmed reports that one of the directors of the fund, former GMTV presenter Esther McVey, had resigned from the board, but denied it was because of any rift with the McCanns.

He said she wanted to concentrate on her role as a Conservative parliamentary candidate and was also about to start studying for a demanding MBA qualification.

With thanks to Nigel at McCann Files

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