9:30am PT by Lesley Goldberg
Cate Blanchett to Play Conservative Activist in FX Women's Rights Drama 'Mrs. America'
Cate Blanchett is the latest A-list movie star heading to television.
The two-time Academy Award winner has signed on to star in and executive produce what will be her U.S. television debut, Mrs. America, a nine-episode limited series set at FX.
The project tells the true story of the movement to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, and the unexpected backlash led by a conservative woman named Phyllis Schlafly (Blanchett). Through the eyes of the women of that era — Schlafly and second-wave feminists Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Shirley Chisholm, Bella Abzug and Jill Ruckelshaus — the series will explore how one of the toughest battlegrounds in the culture wars of the 1970s helped give rise to the Moral Majority and forever shifted our political landscape.
Mrs. America hails from Emmy-winning writer Dahvi Waller (Mad Men), who will pen the script, exec produce and serve as showrunner. Two-time Oscar nominee Stacey Sher will also exec produce alongside Blanchett and Coco Francini.
"Cate Blanchett is one the great actors of our time — and we are truly honored to have her star in Mrs. America,” FX CEO John Landgraf said Tuesday in a statement. "We have no doubt that Cate is the perfect actor to play the role of Phyllis Schlafly, who was one of the most polarizing and fascinatingly complex figures of the '70s for her opposition to and role in defeating the Equal Rights Amendment, which to this day has never been ratified. Dahvi Waller’s scripts are extraordinary, and I’m thrilled to reunite with my former Jersey TV partner Stacey Sher, and commend her on assembling such a dynamic foursome of gifted, female, artist-producers to take on this timely story."
Blanchett is a two-time Oscar winner (Blue Jasmine, The Aviator) and activist who, as Cannes jury president, most recently led an 82-woman march up the steps of the Palais at the film festival to represent the number of women the annual event has featured in its competition throughout its history. Her Australian TV credits include the 1994 drama Heartland and the 1995 mini Bordertown. She is repped by CAA.
"I feel privileged to have this opportunity to collaborate with Dahvi, Stacey and Coco under the robust and fearless FX umbrella,” Blanchett said. “I am extremely excited about delving into the material as there couldn’t be a more appropriate time to peel back the layers of this recent period of history, which couldn’t be more relevant today.”
Waller, meanwhile, won an Emmy and WGA Award for her writing and producing work on AMC's Mad Men. She most recently served as a writer and co-exec producer on AMC's Halt and Catch Fire. Her credits include Desperate Housewives and Eli Stone. Waller is repped by UTA and Ziffren Brittenham.
Sher earned Oscar nominations for producing Django Unchained and Erin Brockovich. Her TV credits include producing Into the Badlands, Sweet/Vicious and Reno 911. She currently serves as president of video game powerhouse Activision Blizzard Studios. Mrs. America reunites Sher with Landgraf, who was tapped in 1999 to serve as president of Jersey Television, the production company run by Danny DeVito, Michael Shamberg and Sher. She is repped by CAA.
For her part, Francini serves as vp development and production at Activision, where she oversees development of the company's film and TV content. She next will produce the upcoming Call of Duty feature film, set to begin production next year. Her TV credits include Netflix's Skylanders, and her feature producing credits include The Hateful Eight and Wish I Was Here.
Blanchett's casting marks the latest coup for FX and signals the cable network's commitment to competing with deep-pocketed rivals like Netflix and HBO as it is poised to become a Disney-owned brand.
Mrs. America joins a scripted roster at FX that also includes Fosse/Verdon, starring Michelle Williams, Sam Rockwell and Lin-Manuel Miranda; American Crime Story; American Horror Story; Fargo (whose next season features Chris Rock); Snowfall; Taboo; Trust; Mayans MC; Shogun; and more.