On Tuesday January 22, The Knockturnal attended the premiere for “Breslin and Hamill: Deadline Artist.”
The film – directed by Jonathan Alter, John Block, and Steve McCarthy enthusiastically pays tribute to the journalists who ran the New York City newspaper enterprise from the 1960s till the ’80s. They were able to forever impact journalism through their unique influence. As they combatted issues surrounding race and the defending the unprivileged, they were able to leave a significant mark. Breslin is notable for covering the John F. Kennedy assassination for the New York Herald Tribune. Whereas a notable piece of Hamill’s was his story on Robert F. Kennedy’s death. What makes them so inspirational is the way they both climbed their way to the top through good old fashioned hard work. “This is a film not just about Jimmy Breslin and Pete Hamill, it’s about speaking truth to power about what journalist are really supposed to do which is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. It’s a film that’s serious in covering the events but it’s a lot of fun. They were colorful characters, larger than life – there’s a lot of laughs in the film,” said Alter. The film also includes interviews with celebrities such as Tom Wolfe, Gloria Steinem, Robert DeNiro, and Spike Lee.
Even now it’s evident that the fundamentals of writing and journalism never truly change. When asked what advice they had for aspiring journalists, the directors answered with a grin and words of wisdom. “Be a good writer. Show up – if you’re a journalist go to the place where the story is happening – get out the door, and do some reporting, said McCarthy, “Be open to new ideas and new directions. Never look just one way. There’s always something else going on.” Block added, “The devil is in the details. Ask the important questions, then ask a follow-up.”
Undeniably Breslin and Hamill will forever be revered as legends.“It’s really important that we remember these guys because it’s something that we’ve lost. This type of journalism doesn’t exist right now. It was important journalism that was fueled by reporting and opinion about really important things. Especially sticking up for the underdog – this doesn’t exist anymore in our current world. So we’re hoping that this film can be used as a teaching tool and can demonstrate that this kind of journalism can be done,” said McCarthy. Their vision was to inspire and that’s exactly what the directors sought out to do with the film. Block commented, “We wanted to make a film that was more than these two legendary journalists. We wanted to make a film that struck a cord today. That it would hopefully inspire people that people would hold journalism dear – because journalism is under attack these days, it’s being mocked.”
The film ends with a nod to the origin of two legendary journalists and leaves hope for what’s to come. Alter,“What we do in journalism is important. Keep faith that a younger generation can walk in their footsteps and do justice but also do things in new ways as well.”
The film premieres Monday, 1/28 on HBO at 8 pm.