Is Finn Woodhouse A Real Person? The 'Good Girls Revolt' Editor Is Based On Real Life
Every good story needs an antagonist. In Good Girls Revolt , the new Amazon original series based on Lynn Povich's book of the same name, that antagonist is the magazine's editor Finn Woodhouse. Played by Silicon Valley's Chris Diamantopoulos, Finn is in charge of News Of The Week, the magazine based on Newsweek, which was sued in real life by a group of 46 women for gender discrimination in 1970. Bustle reached out to Newsweek for comment on the original lawsuit and the show portraying it now, but has not yet heard back. The lawsuit resulted in a settlement in which Newsweek agreed to provide equal employment opportunities to women.
Technically, Finn is not a real person. But, like all the players in Good Girls Revolt, he is based on a real character of that time: Osborn "Oz" Elliott, the editor of Newsweek from 1961 until 1976. The New York Times reported that Elliot started at Newsweek in 1955 as a senior editor and was promoted to managing editor only a few years later. By the time the magazine was bought by the Washington Post Company, he had transitioned to the editor role, overseeing the whole magazine.
The NYT reported that Elliot passed away in 2008 at age 83, so Diamantopoulos prepared for his role by reading the famed editor's autobiography, Osborn Elliott: The World Of Oz . He also talked to friends of Elliott's to get a handle on how he spoke and his mannerisms, telling Bustle, "His account of [the lawsuit] is that he embraced it. He just wished that they’d come to him first."
Because this is a show based on real people and real historical events, there will undoubtably be liberties taken with both the characters and the stories — and Povich herself told The Washington Post that when Amazon approached her about adapting her book, her stipulation was that the show not be tied to the historical material. So what do we know about Osborn Elliott? According to his memoir, he was a family man who had three girls of his own. But, that didn't stop him from how he treated women in the workplace, and Diamantopoulos saw this as an important part of his character. He told Decider:
"The tragedy for me of you can have it all, you just can’t have it all at the same time. That for me, that’s Finn. That’s where I realized the writers did a great job for the male characters. The women are struggling, and their struggle is real, and revolution is important. But, for a guy that’s the editor of a magazine, there’s no way that he can keep his marriage alive while keeping the magazine alive. And it’s so tragic to realize that you’ve gotta pick one or the other. He tried to pick both and both failed, and then you have to pick up the pieces to one and let go of the other."
Elliott also had his own sharp wit. In the same Washington Post article, Povich recounted how after she wrote her first cover story following the revolt, she claimed she received a note from Elliott that said, "Congratulations on losing your virginity in such style."
While Good Girls Revolt will no doubt shed a light on the real issues women journalists faced in the 1960s, we probably won't see everything that Elliott was involved with on his side of the issue. But, we can be sure that Elliott will be portrayed as truthfully and accurately as Diamantopoulos can manage.
Images: Amazon Studios