Reporter Tom Fiedler Accuses ‘The Front Runner’ of Vilifying Him, Says Portrayal Is Fiction

Jason Reitman’s “The Front Runner,” starring Hugh Jackman as disgraced politician Gary Hart, hasn’t made much of a dent at the box office, but at least one person isn’t happy with the film’s representation of the true events that inspired it. Tom Fiedler, a former reporter for The Miami Herald who helped break the story about Hart’s infidelity, says the film’s portrayal of him is inaccurate.

Fiedler sent a letter to Reitman and his co-screenwriters, Matt Bai and Jay Carson, asking them to “publicly acknowledge that the film’s depiction of me is essentially a fiction” (via The New York Times). The former reporter is currently the dean of Boston University’s College of Communication, and he says the movie’s negative portrayal of him could sway potential students from applying to [the college].”

Actor Steve Zissis (HBO’s “Togetherness”) portrays Fiedler in the movie. Fiedler said the movie doesn’t even portray him right visually and he expressed issue with Zissis never reaching out to him after landing the part. “I wonder if Steve Zissis ever went to the trouble of finding a photograph of me, much less researched my reputation,” Fiedler wrote in the letter. “Had he done so, he would have known I’ve never worn a beard; that I take pride in my appearance and in my physical fitness.”

Steve Zissis as Tom Fiedler in “The Front Runner.”

Columbia Pictures

Fiedler continued by saying members of Boston University’s advisory board were “concerned that the film might damage the university’s reputation and encouraged him to make public his criticisms.” The former journalist wrote Reitman personally after the movie opened in November to express his concerns. According to an email seen by The Times, Reitman responded by saying he did not see Fiedler as the film’s villain. Reitman wrote, “I’ve always had empathy for what you must have been thinking as this all unfolded.”

Fiedler does not plan to sue Reitman and his co-screenwriters, but he is seeking the creatives behind the film to publicly aknowledge the film’s fictional portrayal. “The Front Runner” is now playing in theaters via Columbia Pictures.

Steve Zissis as Tom Fiedler in “The Front Runner.”

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