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Gal Gadot to Produce Cold War Drama ‘My Dearest Fidel’

The ‘Wonder Woman’ actress may also star in the movie, about groundbreaking journalist Lisa Howard.
By  · Published on May 24th, 2018

The ‘Wonder Woman’ actress may also star in the movie, about groundbreaking journalist Lisa Howard.

The state of women journalists on screen leaves plenty to be desired, even in the best of film and television. In general, moving pictures seem to have a particularly difficult time depicting successful women in any field with no strings attached. But for every great, hardworking onscreen journalist, in particular, is a dismally appalling one who doesn’t show any gumption… or even the need to have any.

There are some common tropes that are used to describe female journalists which are worth criticizing. The cinematic tendency to make only women writers sleep with either their bosses or subjects, and the depiction of work as a primary obstacle to some form of “truer” happiness for them — that is, love and family — are obvious enough. However, supposedly “good” stereotypes that lead to a woman’s success in the journalistic field can feasibly be called out, too, even amidst praise.

Obviously, there needs to be a better overall array of representations of what constitutes good or bad journalism as a whole. What happens when the personal and the professional lives of journalists are inexplicably bound? This is certainly the case for the new Lisa Howard drama that Gal Gadot and Wonder Woman executive producer Sue Kroll are working on together. Variety has reported that Gadot and Kroll will produce a film titled My Dearest Fidel, which will center on Howard’s long-forgotten status as a top-notch journalist and informant during the Cold War.

My Dearest Fidel, which will be written by Narcos co-creator Chris Brancato, will be adapted from Peter Kornbluh’s Politico piece of the same name. Kornbluh’s article details how Howard was able to create a top-secret back channel between the United States and Cuba in an attempt to diffuse tension between both parties. The article posits that from mid-1963 to the end of 1964, Howard secretly relayed messages between the US and Cuba in hopes of exploring the possibility of rapprochement after the Cuban missile crisis.

This was made possible through Howard’s tenacity as a high-profile journalist at the time, as well as an intimate relationship that she fostered with controversial political figure Fidel Castro. Howard, who was once a soap opera star, managed to rise to the top of a male-dominated journalism industry during her time, becoming ABC’s first female correspondent and the first woman to anchor her own news show. Her experience and high-profile standing in her field also allowed her to publicly push her peacemaking sentiments. But as stated in Kornbluh’s article, she was “torn between her feelings for [Castro] and her distaste for his revolution.”

There are a lot of possibilities in a film and role like this, whether Gadot portrays Howard or not. Lending her name to this project would make for plenty of publicity. Yet if Gadot truly intends to star in My Dearest Fidel, that would mark a change for her as well. She initially made a name for herself as an action star in the Fast and Furious franchise before eventually donning Amazonian armor in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Wonder Woman and shooting to stardom.

Being able to embody Howard’s hardworking nature and her strong personal beliefs wouldn’t be new to Gadot. But her characters haven’t often had Howard’s intense moral quandaries. Besides maintaining a presence in high-profile cinema and booking big MGM sci-fi flicks alongside her Wonder Woman gig, Gadot has prepped other controversial-sounding projects in recent months, such as Justin Kurzel’s post-World War II thriller Ruin. Playing Howard could fit in with the latter category of politically driven films that Gadot may be interested in.

The industry as a whole could definitely do with a potentially layered narrative like My Dearest Fidel that doesn’t easily box its protagonist into neat stereotypes. Of course, it’s worth noting that perhaps it is concerning to portray another woman journalist who falls for a mark. However, Howard was a trailblazer of a reporter who — first and foremost — honored her own persistent political convictions regardless.

My Dearest Fidel can’t be an uncomplicated movie when the story itself serves as a reminder of the continuing ethical battlefield that is Cuba’s rocky political atmosphere, which remains to this day. Nevertheless, zooming in on Howard is a different, promising gateway into depicting the tensions and conflicts of the Cold War while also shining a light on a forgotten but vital woman in history.

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Sheryl Oh often finds herself fascinated (and let's be real, a little obsessed) with actors and their onscreen accomplishments, developing Film School Rejects' Filmographies column as a passion project. She's not very good at Twitter but find her at @sherhorowitz anyway. (She/Her)