Christmas excesses usually require some recuperation, and binge-watching back-to-back television episodes is a reliable pastime for the waking hours, while digesting too much food and sweating out too much booze in the heat of the season.
The PBS documentary The Battle Over Citizen Kane (1996) was nominated for an academy award and so captivated Ridley Scott that he explored the possibility of turning the story into a feature film, but Scott couldn’t gain a commitment for a high enough budget – around $40 million – to make it a personal project.
Instead, though, he persuaded HBO to invest a lower sum, and confined his involvement as an executive producer (along with his brother Tony). British director Benjamin Ross (The Young Poisoner’s Handbook) came on board to shoot the film entirely in British locations. Those included St Pancras railway station, a swanky inner city hotel, and the historic 15th century Guildhall, which were stunningly presented as the lavish San Simeon Hearst castle that dominated the 60-something settings of the film. I wonder fleetingly whether Ross’s involvement didn’t create too genteel and cultured a vision of Hearst’s more vulgar tastes.
Liev Schreiber headed an impressive ensemble cast that included James Cromwell as William Randolph Hearst, John Malkovich as Citizen Kane co-writer Herman Mankiewicz, and Roy Scheider as RKO studio boss George Schaefer.