Hearst's 'Dark' Plot Against Orson Welles, Citizen Kane

Upcoming book says media mogul tried everything he could to discredit director
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 28, 2016 1:37 PM CDT
Hearst's 'Dark' Plot Against Orson Welles, Citizen Kane
Orson Welles delivers a radio broadcast from a New York studio in 1938.   (AP Photo)

Orson Welles may not have thought William Randolph Hearst himself was out to directly sabotage Citizen Kane, the movie partly based on the tycoon's life, but documents never before published appear to show what the Guardian labels a seedy scheme against Welles and RKO pictures, including "extortion, media manipulation and other underhand tactics." Harlan Lebo, who was a consultant for Paramount Pictures' 50th anniversary celebration of the film, is behind the soon-to-be-published tome Citizen Kane: A Filmmaker's Journey, and he says evidence points to a Hearst plot that was "much more complicated and dark than has been recognized before," with Hearst execs and Hearst himself having knowledge about unscrupulous methods used to try to discredit Welles and halt the film from ever making it to the silver screen.

"This is not a tempest in a teapot, it will not calm down, and the forces opposed to us are constantly at work," reads one cited memo to Welles from his lawyer-manager. After word about the film leaked to Hearst from a preview of Kane, Hearst and his cohorts were said to be livid about the characterization of Charles Foster Kane, the film's overbearing protagonist played by Welles, and Kane's second wife, who bore a strong resemblance to Hearst's real-life mistress. Alleged tactics against Welles—who apparently thought they were being perpetrated by "lackeys" trying to impress their boss and not with Hearst's direct knowledge—include everything from a "Communist witch-hunt" against the actor that was "planned and managed at the top level of the Hearst organization" to newspaper photographers and a young girl being planted in Welles' hotel room. Lebo's book is due April 26. (Welles' Kane Oscar hit the auction block.)

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