Judging by how quickly pop culture moves, it’s surprising someone hasn’t made a cut-rate Obama TV movie yet. I was all ready for HOPE VOTES, starring Michael Jai White and airing a 6:30PM CST on the Hallmark Channel. But no one has made that project a reality… UNTIL NOW. Seems those crafty Brits have fast-tracked an Obama TV mini-series. Take THAT, Tyler Perry! From Tim Adler at Deadline:
Open TV and Film, the London-based production company, is developing a TV mini-series based on Barack Obama’s days on the campaign trail. ITV Studios USA is co-developing the project. Simon Shaps, chairman of Open, has optioned Newsweek journalist Richard Woolfe’s book Renegade: The Making of a President. The author was granted unique access to Obama during the campaign. Shaps – who used to be ITV’s director of television -- told me: “It is early days, but we are sure there will no shortage of ideas for who plays the President.”
Open wants to get it on air within the next 12 to 18 months. Shaps tells me that what appealed to him about Woolfe’s book is that it is a multi-layered portrait of Obama, not a simplistic hero worship.
Unlike network miniseries here in the U.S. (Sam Neill is… MERLIN!), the format is widely revered in the UK. The original UK “Traffik” miniseries is considered by many to be superior to the film version that helped Steven Soderbergh nab an Oscar. And “State of Play” director David Yates is now the boss of “Harry Potter.” It’s one of England’s biggest breeding grounds for filmmaking talent. So believe Shaps when he says the series will have nuance, and not just be some slobbery liberal souvenir.
The only dilemma with this series is… Who will they get to play Obama? The only Obama impression I know is done by Fred Armisen, and it’s not the best. Tyler Perry said he wanted Denzel Washington for the role in his own Obama movie, but obviously this British version won’t attract that kind of star. It’s likely Shaps will cast a wide net and choose a relative unknown to handle the burden of playing the current Leader of the Free World.
And that’s just fine. After all, it’s not like they needed Denzel to get Harry Potter off the ground.