12:15pm PT by Rick Porter
Danny Strong Joins Nat Geo's 'Right Stuff' Series (Exclusive)
Empire co-creator Danny Strong is going back in front of the camera for National Geographic's adaptation of The Right Stuff.
Strong will have a recurring part in the series, based on Tom Wolfe's best-selling nonfiction book about the Mercury astronauts of the late 1950s and early '60s. The cast is headed by Patrick J. Adams (Suits) as John Glenn; Jake McDorman, Colin O'Donoghue, Aaron Staton, Michael Trotter, Micah Stock and James Lafferty will play the rest of the so-called Mercury Seven.
Strong will play John "Shorty" Powers, NASA's ever-present PR man. The brash mouthpiece for the Mercury space program, he's constantly taking the astronauts on glad-handing trips to factories and rubber-chicken dinners in order to fuel public enthusiasm for the space program and shake loose more funding from Congress.
The Right Stuff cast also includes Eric Ladin, Patrick Fischler, Nora Zehetner, Eloise Mumford, Shannon Lucio and Josh Cooke. The show will follow Wolfe's book for the first season, chronicling NASA's race to catch up to the Soviet space program following the launch of Sputnik in 1957 and the seven test pilots who became instant celebrities when they were chosen for the Mercury program.
Subsequent seasons would follow the space program through the Apollo missions and beyond.
Mark Lafferty (Castle Rock, Halt and Catch Fire) is adapting Wolfe's book and will serve as showrunner. He also is executive producing along with Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson of Appian Way, which co-produces with Warner Horizon Scripted Television, and Will Staples. Chris Long (The Americans) will direct and exec produce the first episode.
Strong began his career as an actor on shows including Buffy the Vampire and Gilmore Girls before becoming an Emmy-winning writer and producer. His credits behind the camera include Recount, Game Change, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay and Lee Daniels' The Butler in addition to Empire, which he co-created with Daniels. Strong also has a recurring role on Showtime's Billions. He is repped by Sweeney Entertainment and CAA.