NBC Scraps Hillary Clinton Miniseries

Diane Lane Horizontal - H 2013
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Diane Lane Horizontal - H 2013

NBC has scrapped its controversial Hillary Clinton miniseries project.

"After reviewing and prioritizing our slate of movie/miniseries development, we've decided that we will no longer continue developing the Hillary Clinton miniseries," the network said in a statement Monday.

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The news comes hours after CNN Films opted to cancel its planned documentary on the former secretary of state and first lady after pressure from both Democrats and Republicans.

NBC announced in July that it was developing a four-hour miniseries based on Clinton starring Diane Lane, with plans to air the effort before Clinton was likely to announce her candidacy for president. The project was due to be written by Frozen River's Courtney Hunt and would have recounted Clinton's life as a wife, mother, politician and cabinet member from 1998 to the present. The script would have started with Clinton living in the White House as her husband Bill Clinton is serving the second of his two terms as president and would have included her likely run for president. 

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But the announcement by NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt sparked an almost instant political firestorm. The Republican National Committee voted Aug. 16 to boycott NBC (and CNN) during the 2016 presidential primary debates -- even though no script had been written and nothing had been put into production. The project also enraged segments of NBC's news division. Political director Chuck Todd called the Clinton project a "nightmare," and chief foreign-affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell said the concept was a "really bad idea given the timing." 

Sources told THR that NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke was not pressuring Greenblatt to drop the mini, but many within the company believed the project would never happen. Fox Television Studios declined to produce the mini, ostensibly for financial and not political reasons. Other studios passed on the project, including NBCUniversal's own Universal Television. An NBCU source told THR that Burke was aware of the project before Greenblatt announced it, but sources with ties to the network believe Greenblatt did not seek Burke's blessing or flag the deal before announcing it.

Greenblatt likely knew the Hillary project would be controversial given that he was president of entertainment at Showtime in 2003 when sister company CBS dumped its The Reagans miniseries on the cable net after conservatives attacked it.

NBC also is developing another controversial miniseries, this one about Johnny Carson based on Bill Zehme's long-gestating book Carson the Magnificent. After announcing the project Sept. 19, Greenblatt told THR that he won't produce the mini without the blessing of Carson's family and expressed optimism that it would work out. 

Beyond the Carson mini, NBC also is developing an updated remake of Rosemary's Baby and a new version of Stephen King's Tommyknockers. Also in the works is Mark Burnett's limited series Plymouth and a follow-up to History's The Bible, among others.

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