Hollywood has served up a number of highly political projects this election year, but none are as relevant to the forthcoming Joe Biden vs. Donald Trump showdown in November as Showtime’s The Comey Rule, a fictionalized telling of James Comey’s firing from the FBI in May 2017. That’s why it was odd when Showtime announced that the completed four-hour miniseries stars—which stars Jeff Daniels as former FBI chief Comey and Brendan Gleeson as Trump—in late November, after the general election. Amid complaints from the show’s creator, Showtime announced today that the two-part movie event will now air on September 27 and 28.
Writer-director Billy Ray complained about ViacomCBS’s initial decision in an email to cast members (the star-studded lineup includes Holly Hunter as Sally Yates, Michael Kelly as Andrew McCabe, Jonathan Banks as James Clapper, Peter Coyote as Robert Mueller, and British star Kingsley Ben-Adir as President Obama). Ray, who’s known for penning Captain Phillips and Richard Jewell, said he was under the impression that it would air before November 3 given his May deadline to complete the show.
“We were all hoping to get this story in front of the American people months before the coming election,” Ray wrote to his cast. Then, he says, “word started drifting back to me that a decision about our airdate had been made at the very highest levels of Viacom: all talk of airing before the election was suddenly a non-starter.” It’s unclear whether ViacomCBS’s reasoning for initially holding the film was political.
Even Comey, whose book A Higher Loyalty the show is based on, said he was disappointed with the proposed timing of the release, telling The New York Times, “I don’t understand why CBS would sit on a movie about important current events, and I hope the American people get the chances to see it soon.” Perhaps fearing an impending backlash, the network announced today that it had rescheduled the release for September.
Comey’s A Higher Loyalty, which sold 600,000 copies in its first week on shelves, calls out Trump for unethical behavior, referring to the president as “untethered to the truth.” Now the movie its spawned will be seen about five weeks before the American people head to the polls to decide if Trump is worthy of a second term.
Another major political project set to air this fall is the next installment of Ryan Murphy’s American Crime Story, this one about the impeachment of President Bill Clinton following his affair with former intern Monica Lewinsky, who’s a producer on the project. That show, however, will air after the election, as will director Matt Tyrnauer’s four-part documentary series The Reagans, which will premiere November 15.
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