A TV biography of Washington Post Executive Editor Ben Bradlee, who died in 2014, makes its world premiere on HBO Monday, Dec. 4, at 8 p.m. The 90-minute documentary — “The Newspaperman: The Life and Times of Ben Bradlee”— covers Bradlee’s life from Boston to Washington, D.C., focusing on his legendary journalistic career.
As one of the most important newsmen in American history, he was front and center with the Washington Post during the Watergate political scandal. For many Georgetowners, the documentary is also story about one of their neighbors, who lived on N Street.
The film had a special presentation at the Newseum Nov. 8 for Bradlee’s family, friends and colleagues. It was a gathering of those who recalled the Watergate reporting days, such as one-time cub reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, as well as those keen to highlight the editor’s life, such as Bradlee’s son Quinn, who pushed the idea of the film in the first place.
As HBO writes: “Ben Bradlee’s career spanned the most critical moments of the second half of the 20th century. As a foreign correspondent for Newsweek in the ’50s, Bradlee cut his teeth reporting from the front lines of wars in the Middle East. In Washington, he befriended young Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kennedy and later gained unprecedented access to the White House. By the ’70s, he had transformed the Washington Post from an undistinguished local paper into a national powerhouse, publishing the Pentagon Papers, breaking Watergate and challenging the New York Times for supremacy.
“Taking on the political establishment and ushering in a new era of investigative journalism, the tough-talking, chain-smoking Bradlee came to epitomize the modern newspaper editor. Today, when the First Amendment and the press are under constant attack, Bradlee’s fortitude in the face of withering criticism has never been more relevant.”
According to HBO, the following are the documentary’s credits. John Maggio (“Looking for Lincoln”) directs; Peter Kunhardt, Teddy Kunhardt and George Kunhardt (HBO’s Emmy-winning “Jim: The James Foley Story”) produce. In addition to “Jim: The James Foley Story,” Kunhardt Films’ HBO credits include the Emmy-nominated “Nixon by Nixon: In His Own Words,” the Emmy-nominated “Gloria: In Her Own Words” and the Emmy-winning “Teddy: In His Own Words.”
“The Newspaperman: The Life and Times of Ben Bradlee” is a co-production of HBO and Kunhardt Films; executive produced by Peter Kunhardt and Richard Cohen; produced by Teddy Kunhardt and George Kunhardt; co-produced by Sophie Goulding and Quinn Bradlee; directed by John Maggio. For HBO: senior producer, Jacqueline Glover; executive producer, Sheila Nevins.