The Insider (film)

Infobox Film
name = The Insider

caption = "The Insider" theatrical poster
director =Michael Mann
producer = Pieter Jan Brugge
Michael Mann
writer =Marie Brenner
Eric Roth
Michael Mann
starring =Al Pacino
Russell Crowe
Christopher Plummer
Diane Venora
Roger Bart
Rip Torn
Bruce McGill
Michael Gambon
Gina Gershon
Philip Baker Hall
music =Pieter Bourke
Lisa Gerrard
Graeme Revell
editing = William Goldenberg
David Rosenbloom
Paul Rubell
cinematography =Dante Spinotti
distributor =Touchstone Pictures
released =November 5, 1999
runtime =157 min
language =English
country = USA
budget =$68,000,000 (estimated)
gross =$60,289,912 (worldwide)
website =
imdb_id =0140352
amg_id =1:181097

"The Insider" is a 1999 film that tells the true story of a "60 Minutes" television series exposé of the tobacco industry, as seen through the eyes of a real tobacco executive, Jeffrey Wigand. The "60 Minutes" story originally aired in November 1995 in an altered form because CBS' then-owner, Laurence Tisch, objected. The story was later aired on February 4, 1996.

The film stars Al Pacino (as Lowell Bergman), Russell Crowe (as Jeffrey Wigand), Christopher Plummer (as Mike Wallace), Bruce McGill (as attorney Ron Motley), Diane Venora, Philip Baker Hall (as Don Hewitt), Lindsay Crouse, Gina Gershon, Debi Mazar, Rip Torn, and Colm Feore.

The movie was adapted by Eric Roth and Michael Mann from the "Vanity Fair" magazine article "The Man Who Knew Too Much" by Marie Brenner. It was directed by Mann.

It was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Russell Crowe), Best Cinematography, Best Director, Best Editing, Best Picture, Best Sound and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published.


The film begins with Lowell Bergman (Pacino) and a colleague being taken under blindfold to see Hezbollah founder Sheik Fadlallah in Lebanon about doing an interview with Mike Wallace (Plummer) for the CBS show "60 Minutes". Bergman's blindfold is kept on while he speaks to Fadlallah. When Fadlallah agrees to the interview and leaves the room Bergman removes his blindfold and calls Mike Wallace while his colleague looks at how the room can be used for the interview. Two days later Wallace arrives and even though one of the Fadlallah's bodyguards does not want him to sit so close the interview goes ahead.

While this is happening back in the United States in Louisville, Kentucky Jeffrey Wigand (Crowe) packs his belongings and leaves Brown and Williamson to go home to his wife (Venora) and two children, one of whom suffers from acute asthma. It is not until after the family sits down to eat dinner that Wigand's wife raises questions regarding boxes she's seen in Wigand's car. He replies in a very solemn voice that he was fired that morning.

Bergman is home back in the US when an anonymous package arrives concerning the tobacco company Philip Morris (now Altria) and a cigarette and fire safety study. Because the documents inside the package are all written in chemistry jargon Bergman calls a friend at the Food and Drug Administration to ask the name of someone who could translate the study into plain English. His friend gives him Wigand's name and phone number. Wigand refuses to speak to Bergman and they exchange faxes. Eventually Bergman says that he will be at the Seelbach Hotel in Louisville at a certain time.

Wigand and Bergman meet at the hotel and Wigand agrees to be a consultant about the Fire Safety Study from Philip Morris but he says that he can't talk about anything else because he is bound by a confidentiality agreement. Wigand takes the documents and leaves. He then goes to a meeting with Brown and Williamson CEO Thomas Sandefur (Gambon) who forces him to sign an expanded confidentiality agreement. Wigand believes Bergman told Brown and Williamson about their meeting and accuses him of it.Bergman visits Wigand's house the next day and denies he said anything to Brown and Williamson because it's not what he does. Wigand and Bergman talk about the seven CEOs of 'big tobacco' (or as Wigand calls them 'the seven dwarfs of big tobacco') testifying to the United States Congress they know nothing of addiction in nicotine and that they should be afraid of Wigand. They also talk about why Wigand started working for a tobacco company after working for other biotech companies. Bergman tells Wigand he has to decide for himself whether or not to blow the whistle on big tobacco.

Back at CBS Headquarters Bergman and Wallace are in a meeting where they view the seven CEOs testifying before congress and they discuss what Wigand might have that would hurt them. A lawyer is present at the meeting and he claims that because of Wigand's confidentiality agreement and because big tobacco have an unlimited checkbook he will never be able to reveal what he knows. Bergman then proposes Wigand could be compelled to speak through a court of law which could give him some protection against Brown and Williamson should he do an interview for "60 Minutes".

Wigand becomes a high school teacher in chemistry and Japanese in Louisville. He and his family move into a new house. One night he finds a shoe print in his garden, and begins to become paranoid.

Wigand and Bergman have dinner together and Bergman asks Wigand about incidents from his past that big tobacco might use against him. Wigand tells him several things; then expresses he is risking a lot and he can't see it making much difference. Bergman assures him it will.

Bergman gets in touch with Richard Scruggs (Feore) and Ron Motley (McGill) who along with Mississippi's attorney general are suing big tobacco on behalf of the state of Mississippi (Mike Moore playing himself) to get the state reimbursed Medicaid funds for treating people with smoking related illnesses. Bergman tells them his idea and they express interest in talking to Wigand.

Wigand receives death threats via email and then finds a bullet in his mailbox. Wigand contacts the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) but the agents who arrive accuse him of being emotionally unbalanced before taking his computer, even though it is personal property. Bergman finds out and speaks to an upper level FBI agent, accusing the agents who visited Wigand's house of having connections to the tobacco companies.

Wigand phones Bergman telling him his family is being terrorised and he wants to go to New York and get on the record. Wigand and his wife meet Bergman and Wallace in New York but Wigand has not told his wife he will do the interview. As the Wigands leave separately Wallace asks 'who are these people' to which Bergman replies 'they're ordinary people under extraordinary pressure Mike - what did you expect - grace and consistency?'

Wigand does the interview with Wallace where he states Brown and Williamson manipulate nicotine through ammonia chemistry to allow nicotine to be more rapidly absorbed in the lungs and therefore affect the brain and central nervous system through a process known as impact boosting. He then goes on to say Brown and Williamson have consciously ignored public health considerations in the name of profit.

Wigand begins his new teaching job and talks to Richard Scruggs. He goes home to find Bergman has given him some security personnel. Wigand's wife is struggling under the pressure and tells him so.

Wigand goes to Mississippi where he receives a restraining order issued by the State of Kentucky. It is not honoured in Mississippi but if he testifies then as soon as he goes back to Kentucky he could be imprisoned. After a long period on his own he decides to go to court to give a deposition. At the deposition he says nicotine acts as a drug.

Wigand goes back to Kentucky to find that his wife and two children have left him as a result of fears regarding possible retaliation by the big tobacco companies.

At this point the film shifts its emphasis from Wigand to Bergman. Bergman and Wallace go to a meeting with CBS Corporate about the Wigand interview. A legal concept has emerged, known as Tortious interference. If two parties have an agreement, such as a confidentiality agreement, and one of those parties is induced by a third party to break that agreement, the party can be sued by the other party for any damages. It is revealed that the more truth Wigand tells, the greater the damage, and a greater likelihood that CBS will be faced by a multi-billion dollar lawsuit from Brown and Williamson. It is later suggested that an edited interview take the place of the original. Bergman vehemently disagrees, and claims that the reason CBS Corporate is leaning on CBS News to edit the interview is because they fear that the prospect of a multi-billion dollar lawsuit could jeopardize the sale of CBS to Westinghouse. Wallace and Don Hewitt agree to edit the interview, leaving Bergman alone in the stance of airing it uncensored.

Big tobacco also begins a smear campaign against Wigand, talking to his first wife and publishing a 500-page dossier about everything Wigand has done wrong. Through talking with Wigand, Bergman sees that big tobacco has distorted and exaggerated their claims. He gets into contact with a reporter from the "Wall Street Journal" about delaying the story until it can be proved. He also gets into contact with private investigators who do their own investigating. Bergman gives his findings to the "Wall Street Journal" reporter and tells him to push the deadline. Bergman is ordered to go on vacation.

The edited interview is broadcast. Bergman tries to get through to Wigand at his hotel but there is no answer. He talks to the hotel manager who goes up to Wigand's room with a phone. Wigand is sitting still and staring straight ahead, missing his family intensely. Finally Wigand talks to Bergman, accusing him of manipulating him into where he is now. Bergman tells Wigand that he is important to a lot of people and that heroes like him are in short supply. Wigand says the same about Bergman.

Bergman decides to get in contact with a journalist from "The New York Times", and everything that went on at "60 Minutes" is revealed. The resulting article accuses CBS of betraying the legacy of their renowned journalist Edward R. Murrow. Likewise, "The Wall Street Journal" finally releases its article, exonerating Wigand's smeared reputation by exposing that most of the accusations against him are backed by scant or contradictory evidence, and they reveal Wigand's deposition in Mississippi. "60 Minutes" finally broadcasts the full interview with Wigand.

In the final scene Bergman talks to Wallace and he tells him that he's quitting saying, 'What got broken here doesn't go back together again'. The final shot is of him leaving the building. A series of title cards appear stating the $246 billion settlement that big tobacco made with Mississippi and other States in their lawsuit, that Wigand lives in South Carolina. In 1996, Dr. Wigand won the Sallie Mae First Class Teacher of the Year award, receiving national recognition for his teaching skills. Lowell Bergman works for the PBS show "Frontline" and teaches at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.


When Mann was in post-production on "Heat", Bergman was going through the events depicted in "The Insider". Bergman discussed his trials and tribulations with Mann. The director knew of Bergman's reputation as a man of his word and was intrigued. They had met in 1989 and talked about a few projects but nothing happened. Over the years, the two men kept in touch, talking about Bergman's experiences and at one point Mann was interested in doing a movie on an arms merchant in Marbella that Bergman knew. Mann first conceived of what would become "The Insider" (then known only as "The Untitled Tobacco Project") between the Wigand-lite aired interview in November 1995 and February 1996, when the segment aired in its entirety and Bergman was asked to leave "60 Minutes".

With a budget set at $68 million, Mann began collecting a massive amount of documents to research the events depicted in the film: depositions, news reports and "60 Minutes" transcripts. He had read a screenplay that Eric Roth had written, called "The Good Shepherd", about the first 25 years of the Central Intelligence Agency. Based on this script, Mann approached Roth to help him co-write "The Insider". Mann and Roth wrote several outlines together and talked about the structure of the story. Roth interviewed Bergman numerous times for research and the two men became friends. After he and Mann wrote the first draft together, at the bar at the Broadway Deli in Santa Monica, Roth met Wigand. The whistle blower was still under his confidentiality agreement and would not break it for Roth or Mann. Roth remembered his first impressions of Wigand were that he came across as unlikable and defensive. As they continued to write more drafts, the two men made minor adjustments in chronology and invented some extraneous dialogue but also stuck strictly to the facts whenever possible. However, Mann and Roth were not interested in making a documentary.

Val Kilmer was considered by Mann for the role of Jeffrey Wigand. Producer Pieter Jan Brugge suggested Russell Crowe and after seeing him in "L.A. Confidential", Mann flew Crowe down from Canada where he was in the middle of filming "Mystery, Alaska" on the actor's one day off and had him read scenes from "The Insider" screenplay for two to three hours. When Crowe read the scene where Wigand finds out that the "60 Minutes" interview he did will not be aired, he captured the essence of Wigand so well that Mann knew he had found the perfect actor for the role. Crowe, who was only 33 years old at the time, was apprehensive at playing someone much older than himself when there were so many good actors in that age range. Once Crowe was cast, he and Mann spent six weeks together before shooting began, talking about his character and his props, clothes and accessories. Crowe put on 35 pounds for the role, shaved back his hairline, bleached his hair seven times and had a daily application of wrinkles and liver spots to his skin to transform himself into Wigand. Crowe was not able to talk to Wigand about his experiences because he was still bound to his confidentiality agreement during much of film's development period. To get a handle on the man’s voice and how he talked, Crowe listened repeatedly to a six-hour tape of Wigand.

Al Pacino was Mann's only choice to play Lowell Bergman. He wanted to see the actor play a role that he had never seen him do in a movie before. Pacino, who had worked with Mann previously in "Heat", was more than willing to take on the role. To research for the film, Mann and Pacino hung out with reporters from "Time" magazine, spent time with ABC News and Pacino actually met Bergman to help get in character.

Pacino suggested Mann to cast Christopher Plummer in the role of Mike Wallace. Pacino had seen the veteran actor on the stage many times and was a big fan of Plummer's work. Mann had also wanted to work with Plummer since the 1970s. Pacino told Mann to watch Plummer in Sidney Lumet's "Stage Struck" (1958) and afterwards he was the director's only choice to play Wallace—Plummer did not have to audition. He met with Mann and after several discussions was cast in the film.

Wigand requested a ban on cigarettes in the film. However, as the character Wigand enters the airport, shortly before receiving his subpoena, a woman in the background is seen smoking a cigarette, also, a Lebanese soldier seen smoking briefly while Bergman is being transported to the Hezbollah meeting site,.

The courtroom where Wigand gives his deposition is not a set. The filmmakers used the actual courtroom in Jackson County, Mississippi where the real Wigand's deposition was given.

The man playing Mississippi Attorney General Michael Moore is not an actor. Moore plays himself.

During a scene where Pacino and Crowe are speaking in a parked car, a large clockface can be seen in the background. This is actually the Colgate Clock, located on the facade of the Colgate factory in Clarksville, Indiana, directly across the Ohio River from Louisville, Kentucky, where the majority of the film was shot.


Trouble began before "The Insider" was even released. Don Hewitt and Wallace accused Mann of extreme dramatic license and working with Bergman to transform him into a hero at the expense of the two men. They also said that Bergman negotiated a movie deal with Mann while the case was still going on. They claimed that Bergman was frequently on the phone with Mann and took notes during all CBS meetings. Wallace, in particular, was upset that the film would not portray him in the most flattering way. He had read an early draft of the screenplay and objected to how quickly he changed his mind and publicly criticized CBS. Mann and Roth agreed to make some changes. Despite revisions, Wallace continued to voice his concerns in the "Los Angeles Times" and "Brill's Content" that he would be portrayed unfairly in the movie.

After "The Insider" was released, Brown and Williamson accused the Walt Disney Company of distorting the truth. They took out a full-page ad in "The Wall Street Journal" to counter promotional appearances Wigand and those associated with the film were doing. The tobacco company also had representatives at screenings in eight cities handing out cards asking patrons to call a toll-free number that would answer questions about the film.

Brown and Williamson sent at least one cautionary letter to Disney concerning "The Insider" without having seen the film. Their problems with the movie came from two scenes: one where Wigand finds a bullet in his mailbox with a threatening note and a scene where Wigand is trailed by a menacing figure at a golf range. Wigand actually reported the first event, while Mann has acknowledged that the second scene was in fact fictional and created for dramatic effect, although according to the "Vanity Fair" article on which the movie is based, there were other death threats on Wigand not detailed in the movie.


Roger Ebert of the "Chicago Sun-Times" gave the film three and half out of four stars and praised "its power to absorb, entertain and anger." [Roger Ebert review of "The Insider" [] ] Janet Maslin of "The New York Times" praised Russell Crowe as "a subtle powerhouse in his wrenching evocation of Wigand, takes on the thick, stolid look of the man he portrays," and felt that it was "by far Mann's most fully realized and enthralling work." [Janet Maslin review of "The Insider" [] ]

Peter Travers from "Rolling Stone" magazine wrote, "With its dynamite performances, strafing wit and dramatic provocation, The Insider offers Mann at his best - blood up, unsanitized and unbowed." [Peter Travers review of "The Insider" [] ] Critic Andrew O'Hehir in his review for "Salon" felt that the film "isn't just beautiful to watch on an epic scale, it expertly builds tension by integrating an electronic score by Pieter Bourke and Lisa Gerrard and the terrific editing work of William Goldenberg, David Rosenbloom and Paul Rubell." [Andrew O'Hehir review of "The Insider" [] ]

"The Insider" holds an 96 percent "fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes.


Christopher Plummer won a Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1999. Russell Crowe won the Broadcast Film Critics Association Award, London Critics Circle Film Award, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards and the National Society of Film Critics Award, among others for Best Actor in 2000. Eric Roth and Michael Mann won the Humanitas Prize in the Feature Film category in 2000.

The film was nominated in 2000 for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture,
Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actor in a Leading Role (Russell Crowe).

Box office

In its opening weekend, the film grossed a total of $6,712,361 playing in 1,809 theaters with a $3,710 average. As of August 16, 2006, the film has grossed a total of $60,289,912 worldwide (Canada and the United States: $29,089,912; Overseas: $31,200,000).


Infobox Album
Name = The Insider (Music from the Motion Picture)
Type = Soundtrack
Artist = Various artists

Released = October 26, 1999
Recorded = 1999
Genre = Soundtrack
Length =
Label = Sony
Producer = Lisa Gerrard
Graeme Revell
Reviews = *Allmusic Rating|3|5 [ link]
Last album =
This album =
Next album =

Track listing

# "Tempest" – Lisa Gerrard & Pieter Bourke – 2:51 (from their "Duality" album)
# "Dawn of the Truth" – Lisa Gerrard & Pieter Bourke – 1:59
# "Sacrifice" – Lisa Gerrard & Pieter Bourke – 7:41 (from their "Duality" album)
# "The Subordinate" – Lisa Gerrard & Pieter Bourke – 1:17
# "Exile" – Lisa Gerrard & Pieter Bourke – 1:39
# "The Silencer" – Lisa Gerrard & Pieter Bourke – 1:38
# "Broken" – Lisa Gerrard & Pieter Bourke – 2:03
# "Faith" – Lisa Gerrard & Pieter Bourke – 3:01
# "I'm Alone on This" – Graeme Revell – 2:02
# "LB in Montana" – Graeme Revell – 0:50
# "Palladino Montage" – Graeme Revell – 0:45
# "Iguazu" – Gustavo Santaolalla – 3:12
# "Liquid Moon" – Lisa Gerrard & Pieter Bourke – 4:05
# "Rites (special edit for the film)" – Jan Garbarek – 5:34
# "Safe from Harm (Perfecto Mix)" – Massive Attack – 8:14
# "Meltdown" – Lisa Gerrard & Pieter Bourke – 5:40

Other music in the film

* "Uotaaref Men Elihabek" – Casbah Orchestra
* "Suffocate", "Hot Shots" and "Night Stop" – Curt Sobel
* "Litany" – Arvo Pärt
* "Smokey Mountain Waltz" – Richard Gilks
* "Armenia" – Einstürzende Neubauten
* "Two or Three Things" – David Darling

ee also

*"60 Minutes" Brown & Williamson controversy
*Jeffrey Wigand
*Lowell Bergman


External links

* [ Metacritic: Reviews]
* [] - Official site.
* [ Jeffrey Wigand on 60 Minutes, February 4, 1996] - Transcript of the CBS story.
* [ Frontline: Smoke in the Eye]
* [ An extensive collection of articles]
* [ Pacino's Loft - "The Insider"]
* [] - The Insider trailer.
* [ the screenplay]
* [ interview with Mann]
* [ DGA magazine interview with Mann]
*, as taught at the J.F.K-Institute, F.U, Berlin

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