The movie "The Insider" answered many questions about the time period surrounding the 60 Minutes broadcast, but it also
brought many questions up that Dr. Wigand is often asked about.
Q. Have you seen the movie "The Insider"?
Here are the answers to some of them:
A. Yes, I have seen the movie in its entirety six (6) times; the first time in June 1999 as a rough cut with my daughter Rachel in Los Angeles at the
invitation of the director, Michael Mann, then at each of the three premieres in Los Angeles, CA, NYC, NY and Washington, DC with my oldest daughter. In
addition, I have watched the full length of the film twice more; once in conjunction with a World Health Organization (WHO) event in San Francisco in 1999
and one other time with an audience of tobacco control advocates.
I do not enjoy watching the movie because of its congruence with the events of a very difficult time which bring back some very uncomfortable memories. As a film,
I believe The Insider captured powerfully and accurately the tone and tenor of what I was experiencing on a daily basis during that time period.
Q. Have you met Russell Crowe?
A. Yes, I met him for the first time in Louisville, KY while they were filming at the High School where I previously taught. We spent the better part of the day
talking, played a round of golf at one of the country clubs in Louisville and had dinner together. I met up with him again on the set in Pascagoula, MS,
during each of the premieres, and then at the Academy Awards in Los Angeles in 2000.
Q. Have you met the other members of the cast of the movie?
A. Yes, I met Al Pacino (Lowell Bergman), Christopher Plummer (Mike Wallace), Bruce McGill (Ron Motley), Diane Venora (Liane Wigand) and Debi Mazar (Debbie De Luca) during the premieres, but was also reaquainted with Al Pacino
and Christopher Plummer on the set of the Rosie O'Donnell Show in 2000. They were all very gracious.
Q. Did you consult on the movie?
A. No, I did not.
Q. Were you paid for your story?
A. No, I was a public figure and as such did not have rights to the story or the production of the movie. I was neither paid nor consulted, but I did
ask for a few concessions in the film such as changing the names of my daughters and those were granted.
Q. Did you really have armed bodyguards 24/7?
A. Yes, we had two ex-secret service agents as bodyguards who started my car in the morning, escorted me to school, took my daughters out to play
and were always watching and cognizant of any possible harm. In addition, the high school I was teaching at during that time was forced to put a guard on my
classroom door because of all the physical threats.
Q. What was the basis of the movie?
A. The movie was adapted by Michael Mann and Eric Roth from a Vanity Fair article written by Marie Brenner in 1996
entitled "The Man Who Knew Too Much".
Q. Isn't it true that the movie is just a fictionalized drama?
A. The movie is true to the psychological, emotional and philosophical aspects of the time. It is more of an encapsulated docudrama than a "Hollywoodized" drama.
The movie combines multiple historical events into a single scene and coalesces several years of events into 2 hours and 38 minutes, yet still retains
Q. What is the social relevance of the film?
A. It's relevant in many aspects. For example, did a large corporation (Brown & Williamson) use its economic, legal and bullying power to intimidate another large
corporation (CBS)? Yes. Does the movie demonstrate the value of the First Amendment? Yes. Does the movie demonstrate that there is power in one? Yes.
Does the movie demonstrate that we all should stand up for what we believe in? Yes. Can one person make a difference? Absolutely.
Q. Can you name some fact and fiction in the movie?
A. Was I followed by an ex-FBI agent in the employ of Brown & Williamson? Yes. Was there a bullet found in my mailbox in January 1996? Yes. Did someone threaten to
harm my family if I told the truth about the inner workings of the tobacco company I worked for? Yes. Did the tobacco industry attempt to undermine my
integrity with a 500 page smear campaign? Yes. Were the names of my daughters disguised in the movie? Yes. Was the nature of my one daughter's
illness disguised in the movie? Yes.
There are numerous other fictional as well as real events that were represented in the movie. I talk about these much more in depth during my
appearances since the best way to understand the historical value of the movie is to construct the history of the actual events and how they were artistically
changed for dramatic effect; and that is something that just can't be put into something as brief as an FAQ list. Plus, the emotions can't truly be
expressed via text.
Q. Do you still communicate with Lowell Bergman?
A. Yes, from time to time we email or speak on the telephone. We have also appeared together during speaking engagements at several universities.
Q. Did you get back together with your wife?
A. No, she filed for divorce in January 1996 and a divorce was granted in April 1997. She remarried shortly afterward and relocated to Texas with my
two youngest girls.
Q. Do you see your daughters?
A. Yes, on a regular basis.
Q. Knowing what you know now, would you do it all over again if the circumstances were similar?
A. Yes, in a New York minute.