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June 27, 2011

Guardian journalists ‘cash in’ on WikiLeaks film project

By Myriam Dijck

Several Guardian journalists involved in the WikiLeaks project have sold their “life rights” to a Hollywood film studio, according to the Financial Times (link behind paywall).

According to the newspaper at least five different versions of the WikiLeaks story are being made by companies including DreamWorks, HBO, BBC and Universal Pictures, as Hollywood film studios “scramble to buy the ‘life rights'” of the key players involved.

DreamWorks is reported to have approached the Guardian and struck deals with journalists including David Leigh and Luke Harding, authors of the book WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy.

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The FT also claimed Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger and deputy editor Ian Katz had agreed deals with DreamWorks – and quoted a source who claimed the deals represented a “nice chunk” of money.

The report said:

Mr Rusbridger denied he had been paid separately for his rights and declined to comment on deals struck by colleagues.

‘I’m not earning anything out of it… all [the money] is going to The Guardian,’ he said.

The article goes on to claim that US cable channel HBO is collaborating with the BBC on another WikiLeaks project and has bought the rights to an article on Assange that appeared in the New Yorker.

New York Times executive editor Bill Keller is also reported to have struck a deal with a film company.

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