Bill Clinton-James Patterson 'President' Adaptation Lands a Series Order at Showtime

CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves is said to have been instrumental in landing the drama for his corporate sibling, with film studios and streaming services also competing for the hot package.
Getty Images; Courtesy of Little, Brown and Company and Knopf
Bill Clinton (left), James Patterson

Following a competitive bidding process, Showtime has nabbed one of the hottest packages on the market.

The premium cable network has handed out a straight-to-series order for a TV adaptation of former President Bill Clinton and James Patterson's soon-to-be-published book The President Is Missing.

The drama landed at the premium network following a highly competitive process, with film studios, networks and streaming services, as well as independent producers/directors and financiers, all competing to secure the property.

Set for release in June 2018, The President Is Missing finds Clinton and Patterson tell the startling story of a sitting U.S. president's disappearance, with the level of detail that only someone who has held the office can know — generating a powerful, one-of-a-kind thriller. Although fictional, the story brings to life the pressures and realities of the most important position in the world. 

As The Hollywood Reporter reported in July, Clinton and Patterson set up multiple meetings across Hollywood to shop the rights to their upcoming book. At the time, sources said a watermarked 10-page proposal was sent out — via an expiring link — to buyers and top producers. All told, Clinton and Patterson took 16 meetings during their time in Hollywood, with J.J. Abrams, Steven Spielberg, George Clooney and producer Steve Bing (a close friend of Clinton's) said to be among them.

Given that the book is still being finished, additional details — like a formal episode count and a showrunner, as well as writers and additional executive producers — are still to be determined. Showtime will be the lone studio on the project, giving the premium cable network full ownership rights to the series.  

CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves is said to have played a large role in securing The President Is Missing for Showtime, as the executive has a long-standing relationship with Clinton and Patterson. Patterson, for his part, is already part of the CBS Corp. family, as he has an overall deal with CBS Television Studios and executive produces CBS' Zoo and Instinct.

"Bringing The President Is Missing to Showtime is a coup of the highest order," Showtime CEO David Nevins said Friday in a release announcing the pickup. "The pairing of President Clinton with fiction’s most gripping storyteller promises a kinetic experience, one that the book world has salivated over for months and that now will dovetail perfectly into a politically relevant, character-based action series for our network."

The drama is Clinton's first TV series, as well as the first to be adapted of the three books the former president has written since leaving office in January 2001. "I'm really enjoying writing this book and working with Jim," Clinton said. "And I can’t wait to see Showtime bring the characters to life."

The President Is Missing marks the first time an American president has ever co-authored a thriller. It's also the ninth of Patterson's works to be adapted for the small screen. "The White House is such an exciting world to explore and is made even more so with the unique insights of a former president. Rich storytelling opportunities for this series abound," Patterson said.

This marks the latest high-profile project to land at Showtime. The CBS Corp.-owned premium cable network last week handed out a straight-to-series order for Kidding, a comedy starring Jim Carrey. Both series will join a slate that includes Homeland, Shameless, Billions, The Affair, Ray Donovan and I'm Dying Up Here as well as the upcoming White Famous, SMILF, The Chi, Patrick Melrose and Escape at Dannemora.

CAA's Richard Lovett handled rights to The President Is Missing.

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