Widow of Top Enron Exec Criticizes Film

The wife of a former top Enron Corp. (search) executive who killed himself after the company fell apart challenged how her husband was portrayed in a documentary that was screened for former Enron employees Tuesday at half-price.

The film, "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room," (search) opens with a dramatization of Cliff Baxter's (search) 2002 suicide. Later, Fortune Magazine reporter Bethany McLean (search), co-author of a 2003 book that inspired the film, says Baxter was a manic depressive.

"He was never diagnosed with that illness," an emotional Carol Baxter (search) told McLean and film director Alex Gibney after the two-hour screening before a packed house.

McLean expressed sympathy for Baxter's death, then told his widow that other executives at the company had described him as having extreme mood swings.

"It's no reason to state a lie," Carol Baxter replied.

Gibney said Carol Baxter had asked that the reference to her husband's suicide be removed when she screened the film before Tuesday, but he decided to retain it because it was a "fair reflection of the highs and the lows."

Cliff Baxter fatally shot himself Jan. 25, 2002. He left a note on the dashboard of his wife's car that said, in part, "Where once there was great pride, now it's gone."

He had resigned from Enron in May 2001; the energy giant collapsed in an accounting scandal in December 2001.

The documentary was shown at a movie theater adjacent to the wealthy neighborhood that is home to Enron founder Kenneth Lay (search) and former CEO Jeffrey Skilling (search). Lay, Skilling and chief accounting officer Richard Causey are scheduled to be tried early next year on fraud and conspiracy charges.

The film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January and will have its official premiere in Houston Wednesday at the same theater that hosted Tuesday's screening.

The film will open at select theaters in Houston and New York on April 22, and across the country April 29.