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RKO 281 (TV Movie 1999) Poster

(1999 TV Movie)

Trivia

The size of the principal actors had to be modified for their roles. Liev Schreiber, who stands 6'3", had to bulk up to portray Orson Welles, while John Malkovich, who stands about 6'1" (a full head taller than the real Herman J. Mankiewicz), had to be made to look much slighter and smaller than usual. James Cromwell, who stands a towering 6'7", was surrounded by actors in lifts, as the real William Randolph Hearst was about 6'3" or 6'4".
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This was originally planned as a theatrical film. The original cast consisted of Edward Norton as Orson Welles, Marlon Brando as William Randolph Hearst, Madonna as Marion Davies, Dustin Hoffman as Herman J. Mankiewicz, Meryl Streep as Louella Parsons. Ridley Scott was slated to direct. But studios passed on the film because of the projected $40 million budget. Scott dropped out as director. Brando and Hoffman also dropped out. Gene Hackman was considered to replace Brando and Al Pacino was considered to replace Hoffman. Eventually, the project was scaled down to a television movie and the entire cast was replaced.
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The film depicts Orson Welles meeting William Randolph Hearst whilst a guest at the latter's home, San Simeon. In reality, Welles never went there, and never met Hearst until after Citizen Kane (1941) had opened. (Their one, brief meeting was in a San Francisco elevator, according to Welles; there were no others present, and it may be that Welles made up the story and never actually met Hearst).
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In the shot of Orson cutting the Citizen Kane script, one of Kane's lines is "Who knows what lurks in the hearts of evil men? The Shadow knows!" This was the classic introduction played at the beginning of every episode of Welles' famous radio program, "The Shadow".
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The title refers to the production number given by RKO Radio Pictures to Citizen Kane (1941).
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When Louella Parsons is shown viewing the film, the actual soundtrack and original dialogue from Citizen Kane (1941) is heard.
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The film shows RKO production chief George Schaefer announcing to Orson Welles and Herman Mankiewicz that he has lost his job on the very day of the opening of Citizen Kane (1941) in May 1941. In fact, Schaefer did not get fired until late in the following year, and this was less because he had promoted the film career of Orson Welles than because almost all the films RKO had made during his tenure had been flops.
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In the fictitious scene where Orson Welles has dinner at San Simeon, he tells the other guests that he was, as a teenage boy traveling in Europe before beginning his acting career, taught the art of bullfighting by the great matador Manolete. As Manolete was two years younger than Welles and did not begin to achieve any renown in the bullring until after the Spanish Civil War (that is to say, at about the time this scene is supposed to be taking place), this is impossible.
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On the script are various other narratives of Orson Welles' work with his Mercury Theatre and his move from New York plays to Hollywood movies (mostly under the supposed "VOICE" character).
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Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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