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First Lincoln, Now Washington: NBC Prepping Presidential Series, Barry Levinson To Direct

by Kevin Jagernauth
November 15, 2012 11:20 AM
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Forget vampires and zombies...the hottest new trend? Presidents. Okay, so it's not quite a full-on phenomenon yet, but clearly we're in a bit of moment where the nation's founders are getting their due on the big screen. Of course, Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" is now speechifying in theaters across the country and if NBC has its way, each week you'll get the first President of the United States Of America piped into your home.

The network has enlisted "The King's Speech" screenwriter David Seidler, "Downton Abbey" dude Gareth Neame and "Oz" producer Tom Fontana for a new series based on the acclaimed book "Washington: A Life" by Ron Chernow. The show -- which for now is being called "George Washington," obvs -- will potentially "move back and forth through the war hero and president's life and tell the little-known and unlikely story of his survival and triumph, revealing his true character for the first time -- not the tale of the man who chopped down the cherry tree." We guess that latter moment will be in the opening credit sequence or something.

The final piece of the puzzle is Barry Levinson, who will executive produce and direct the pilot. It's another intriguging direction for the helmer who has switched it up in the last the few years, helming the HBO movie "You Don't Know Jack," a short doc for ESPN's "30 For 30," the found footage thriller "The Bay," and now this TV show. All told, it's a pretty ambitious (and probably expensive) undertaking by NBC, and it's certainly nice to see them take a stab at a serious drama and not another limp comedy or reality show. All we'll ask is: any way we get can get sassy, old timey James Spader from "Lincoln" to appear in this? [THR]

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  • libertygirl | November 15, 2012 11:58 AMReply

    way to re-write history, NBC & levinson. the 'true' george washington wasn't scandalous enough to get the eyeballs you desire, so you're going to...wait for it...lie about an american hero who can't defend himself. you guys should be ashamed of yourselves, but that takes some kernel of honor and truth of which you have none.

  • StephenM | November 15, 2012 5:23 PM

    Wait--where does it say they're going to lie? It says he's "not the man who chopped down the cherry tree"--because he never was. That story was made up in the first place. Chernow's book won the Pulitzer Prize, and if he's involved I'm sure he wouldn't want them to make stuff up. All they're saying is that they're going to try to examine his life in a way that makes him seem interesting, with some actual ups and downs. Washington can be hard to get a handle on because he always seems so perfect, but he was human like anyone else, so they're just citing that attempt to humanize him, which doesn't happen often in American pop culture. Rest assured, they're not going to go negative, or try and paint him as a terrible person or anything--just try and dramatize what made him tick.

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