Male actor cast as reporter in Rob Ford movie, real-life journalist Robyn Doolittle isn’t pleased

Ben Platt (L) has been cast in 'Run This Town.' Robyn Doolittle (R) is pictured in her 2011 Toronto Star photo. Getty Images/Toronto Star

Much ado was made on Tuesday when it was revealed that former Homeland actor Damian Lewis will be playing late Toronto mayor Rob Ford in the upcoming thriller, Run This Town.

Shortly after that bombshell made the rounds on social media, ex-Toronto Star reporter (and current Globe & Mail reporter) Robyn Doolittle, the author of biography Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story and one of the most preeminent journalists covering Ford’s mayorship and private life, expressed her disappointment in another Run This Town casting: that of the lead reporter, who will be played by male actor Ben Platt (Pitch Perfect).

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Doolittle sarcastically tweeted her disgust at the casting, asking “Why have a woman be a lead character when a man could do it?”

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For those unaware, Doolittle was one of the first journalists to delve deep into Ford’s life and is widely credited (along with a few other reporters, including John Cook of defunct publication Gawker) with helping break the now-infamous crack scandal.

During Ford’s tenure, he was famously caught with a crack-cocaine pipe in a video, accused of volatile relationships with colleagues and faced accusations of sexual harassment. Prior to his mayorship, Ford’s background was mottled by rumours of frequent drug use.

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Doolittle was one of the first Canadian reporters to witness the so-called “crack video,” and her coverage was must-read material. Cook first broke news of the video on Gawker, and Doolittle worked with fellow Star reporter Kevin Donovan to dig further into the story. The culmination of many journalists’ work, Doolittle eventually became the figurehead of the Ford story. Crazy Town is viewed by many as the essential Ford biography.

Strange, then, that Run This Town production opted to go with a white male journalist for the movie. While “not begrudging” Platt, Doolittle rued that yet again, white male journalism is being feted when it’s the perfect opportunity to bolster the work of a female reporter.

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Platt replied, saying that he’s playing an “entry-level” reporter and it’s a “completely fictional” drama. (The first two tweets have now been deleted.)

“I have the utmost respect for your accomplishments,” he tweeted to Doolittle. “I play a totally fictionalized character, an entitled, incapable entry-level reporter (my boss is played by Jennifer Ehle) at a fictional competing newspaper. The film alludes to the successful reporting from the Toronto Star.”

He expounded in a second tweet:

“To reiterate, the film is a completely fictional drama with several storylines exploring the millennial generation & their involvement in politics & journalism, the Rob Ford scandal serves as the platform. There is no attempt to portray or co-opt your story/accomplishments.”

His third tweet, still active, reads as follows:

Twitter users familiar with the Ford story stood behind Doolittle, deriding the casting as a typical Hollywood move.

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Global News reached out to Doolittle — who is now on maternity leave — for comment. She didn’t reply, but tweeted this.

Currently in production in Toronto, Run This Town follows “the inner workings of a city seen through the eyes of the interns and assistants that run it,” according to its IMDb description.

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While many details aren’t available yet, the main plot will involve a reporter trying to expose a corrupt politician — Ford — chin-deep in scandal. The politician’s aides work their hardest to keep the scandal under wraps. (It’s not known at this time if the character is a caricature of Ford, or will actually be a true depiction. No character names have been revealed for any cast members.)

Ford died in 2016 at age 46 after an 18-month battle with a rare form of cancer.

Ford’s brother Doug is currently running for Ontario premier.

As of this writing, there is no release date for the movie.


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