Concussion director fires back at New York Times

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Well, the Concussion movie is getting plenty of free publicity.

In response to a New York Times article that created the impression that Sony revised the script for the film due to concerns that it would antagonize the NFL even though Sony has no business relationship with the league, writer/director Peter Landesman accuses the New York Times of unfairly making Sony look worthless and weak.

“It does seem to me like the New York Times is working for the NFL,” Landesman tells “That’s how it seems to me. It seems like a hatchet job has been done here, and came out of the NFL’s offices, that’s how it seems to me.”

Landesman’s assessment is likely wrong. Ken Belson, who wrote the first story criticizing the Hall of Fame and the NFL for trying to silence the daughter of Junior Seau at the August 8 induction ceremony, wouldn’t be trying to make the NFL look good. If anything, Belson and the Times would be trying to make the NFL look bad by painting the league as sufficiently powerful and intimidating to compel Sony to spontaneously slash portions of the Concussion script and to prompt Landesman to attempt to kiss the ring of Roger Goodell until the studio angrily told Landesman to not meet with the Commissioner.

“In the end even Sony, which unlike most other major studios in Hollywood has no significant business ties to the N.F.L., found itself softening some points it might have made against the multibillion-dollar sports enterprise that controls the nation’s most-watched game,” Belson wrote in the second paragraph of the story.

So the agenda, if there was one, was to make NFL look strong enough to bully even those companies with which it has no business relationship. Making Sony look lame was collateral damage.

The truth, as previously explained, seems to be that Sony was committed to telling the truth about a supposedly true story that makes necessarily the NFL look bad. Certain techniques that make movies more entertaining, like a real sense of physical peril for the protagonist and/or his family members, need to be used carefully — or not at all — when the goal is to tell a true story that does not make inaccurate claims.

“When you are telling a true story about something this controversial, it’s incumbent on us, it’s our responsibility to be as fair an accurate as possible,” Landesman said. “We don’t want to defame anybody, we don’t want to injure anybody. We just want to tell the truth, and that’s all we’ve done.”

The key words in that comment are “defame” and “injure.” Sony’s lawyers reviewed the script for any scenes or dialogue that would tell a story other than the truth, in a way that would unfairly characterize the actions and words of NFL officials. It wasn’t the result of Sony running scared from the NFL, or of the NFL thumping its chest. It was the result of good and prudent lawyering, the kind of lawyering that happens in the crafting of any movie based on a real people and actual events.

“This movie is about an underdog, a David and Goliath story of telling the truth, against all odds,” Landesman said.  “About a thing that is such a sacred cow to America, that in its core, on this particular issue, is corrupt. Isn’t it ironic that another American institution, a newspaper, seems to be trying to damage that effort? In a way, it seems to be a strange self-fulfilling prophecy, or a weird mirror of the reality of this film.”

That comment shows that Landesman has no fear of the NFL (or, for that matter, of the New York Times). But it also suggests that Landesman doesn’t understand what the Times was actually doing — or that he does but is choosing to advance a narrative that makes himself and Sony seem like the David for which people will choose to cheer.

Or, more specifically, to surrender $10 for the purposes of sitting in a chair and staring at a screen for two hours.

54 responses to “Concussion director fires back at New York Times

  1. truth is…..if it was in fact a hatchet job, then it probably did come out of the NFL Office

  2. The New York Times is nothing but propaganda and has been for so long how it is still considered news. Way to go Mr. Belson. Though I still won’t go see your propaganda either.

  3. I feel like I would be more interested in this movie if it was a random actor as the star and not Will Smith.

  4. This is more of a legal battle, especially considering the NFL’s (supposedly strong) army. Of course Sony is going to preemptively make sure they’re not walking into any legal trouble.

    It’s not that dissimilar from HBO covering its bases before releasing their doc “Going Clear” since they know the “church” of Scientology has a long history of being especially litigious.

    I, for one, can’t wait for this Concussion movie.

  5. Movie has been in the makes that might shed a negative light on the NFL, affect revenues, and possibly impact future crops of talented player availability – and we haven’t heard about it until now?

    Gee, it’s almost like there was some effort somewhere to create an attention grabbing distraction that would keep NFL fans, and the media, focused on something else.

    I wonder what it could have been…….

    Nah, not the NFL – right?

  6. I mean I guess it’s not a direct business relationship but a top 5 game for Sony systems developed by EA sports?


    Sunday Ticket Availability on Sony Platforms PS3 or PS4?
    Currently available.

    While there are intermediaries, that certainly sounds like a business relationship to me.

  7. So this movie opens on Christmas Day a week after the new Star Wars movie opens. If you were trying to create a formula where few people will see this movie, you can’t do a much better than that.

  8. Waiting for the comments about how players “know the risks” of what they signed up for…

    It’s very sad that people have problems distinguishing between:
    a) knowing there are risks
    b) knowing “the” risks

    We have a better understanding of “the” risks now, which allegedly the NFL tried to cover that up.

    The inevitable downvotes are welcome.

  9. So this movie opens on Christmas Day a week after the new Star Wars movie opens. If you were trying to create a formula where few people will see this movie, you can’t do a much better than that.

    I don’t think many football fans and/or people that care about football will be going to see the star wars movie……..

  10. So Sony didn’t want to anger the NFL and then the studio decided that in order to not look pro NFL they “leaked” the trailer to the MMQB. A site that nobody would claim is objective when discussing the league. Got it.

  11. 09/02/2015 one day closer to the day everyone will have been persecuted or offended by something. Belson’s piece certainly wasn’t a No Facts League hatchet job, it was reporting what may have been a power play by the league and was definitely a cave by Sony.

  12. jimmybeaterson says:

    I don’t think many football fans and/or people that care about football will be going to see the star wars movie……..


    This football fan is going to see Star Wars!

  13. 10 years from now, Hollywood will be making a movie about the conspiracy inside the NFL to hamper their top performing team and drag their star QB through the mud. There will be flashbacks to the early days, when Belichick stiffed the Jets and then the years that follow, as an inner circle of former Jets players and executives, now risen to power within the League Offices, formulate a plan to bring down the New England Patriots.

  14. .
    I have no medical knowledge and do not fully understand the entire topic. However, I’m happy that the movie will generate discussion and comment by those who do.

  15. Who still reads the New York Times? They’ve become irrelevant to anyone not taking Social Security. This is just another agenda driven piece, like 80% of everything else they put in their daily rag.

    Their circulation has plummeted, and if it weren’t from the big three networks using their front page to decide which news to cover on their nightly news broadcasts, no one would pay attention to what they publish.

    The Sulzberger family has reduced this once prominent newspaper to a shell of its former self. What used to be a relevant, informative newspaper has become a political tool for leftist politics.

  16. Everyone who’s ever played knows the risks, as in any other sport. We’ve seen in the race car, rock climbing, a multitude of other movies covering sports or sporting events where injuries occur. Discussion? You need to discuss it with your children before you let them play, or your own self, those are the discussions to be made. To make a movie out of this? Save yourself some money and watch …………..STAR WARS!!

  17. When rhetoric meets fact, fact usually wins.

    Landesman’s rhetoric makes no sense when faced with facts. Why on earth would a writer who has been at the forefront of criticism of the league suddenly become their shill? And how does Belson’s piece even make the NFL look good? If anything, it furthers his narrative of NFL as bully.

    I have heard other interviews with Landesman. Like most Hollywood types, he has little time for any contemplation of his motives. “The NFL is bad, you see, and I shall prove it. Don’t ask me why this important, or what my motives are.” Just wallow in my brilliance.

    Give me a break.

  18. The NFL is putting so much money into so many pockets, yet they’re the evil empire. I guess beating up on successful people is a best seller. That’s sad that so many pitiful people buy into that mentality.

  19. It’s like some of you weren’t raised by Moms ( and if i hit the mark, I’m sorry).

    Mothers aren’t going to let their sons play football because of the science that associates concussions with brain damage. It’s just that simple; and, this movie will push that along.

    And to all the posters who say, “I make the decisions about my kid and if I want him to play football I’ll override her”. Yeah, right.

  20. FinFan68 says:
    Sep 2, 2015 3:48 PM
    The amount of manufactured drama in this country is disturbing.


    In terms of manufactured drama, this doesn’t come close to the “story” that was “reported” yesterday about RGIII denying that he liked an instagram post that was purportedly dissing the Redskins.

    People thought it was a big deal.

  21. These owners get public money while profiting off mostly minority players damaging their brains and bodies.

    I’m sure the solution lies within the problem. Hit the owners with lawsuits until they cave. Make players sign a waver, ownership of teams using public money should be the public.

  22. The NY Times has become a joke and a complete rag. They have been publishing “scathing” exposes like they’re TMZ—the only problem is if you bother to fact check them they fall apart.

    I know you don’t want to hear it, but the one they did on the Noles was proven to have MULTIPLE facts incorrect–including names, dates, and things that were later proved to not even occur. Of course there was no retraction.

    I guess it’s all about clicks these days.

  23. No matter how much free pub you give this movie I’m more likely to go for round 2 of Star Wars than checking it out.

    Disregarding my lack of interest in the film’s topic, when is the last Will Smith movie that came out?

  24. Too bad ESPN doesn’t take defamation as seriously as Sony does. Or…Ironic if the NFL is threatening defamation against Sony behind the scenes.

  25. The NFL will find a way to blame Beady for this movie and suspend him for 4 more games. He was “generally aware” that this movie was being made, after all.

  26. My 2cents about the conspiracy designed to silence the Seau family:
    1. The first inductee in the HOF this year was Vikings center Mick Tinglehoff. He was so damaged by the Deacon Jones era head slap that he could not make any speech, and had to be led on stage by Fran Tarkington, holding his hand. Literally holding his hand. He could only smile and wave when directed to do so.
    2. Rock solid inductee Will Shields was presented for induction by his high school friend, because, as Shields proclaimed, his children couldn’t agree on which of them would present him. Understand that Shields has a clearly defined family structure and still couldn’t satisfy the family argument about his presenter.
    Now, consider his teammate Derrick Thomas, who had seven children by many mothers; these ladies were able to cooperate during his induction in 2009. Imagine if there were combative factions then. It is not a stretch to say that lawsuits could have been filed regarding who was entitled to make his presentation and it could have been tied up for a year, or so. The HOF policies that are now ridiculed help eliminate that possibility.

  27. Someone mentioned something about not letting their kids play football because of concussions and the damage they do, yet soccer players (and to a much greater extent female soccer players) suffer concussions at a higher rate than football players. Nobody seems to mention not letting their kids play soccer even though you are at greater risk there.

  28. No one needs to work to make Sony look worthless and weak. They once dominated consumer electronics globally. Now the only two money-making items in their product lineup are the PlayStation 4 and Spiderman movies, which prop up the rest of the company.

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