Presidential Anthology Drama in the Works at History

Bill Clinton's impeachment is one of the topics that will be tackled in the project.
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Bill Clinton

President Bill Clinton's time in office might be the subject of another anthology drama.

History is developing an anthology drama titled The Commanders, and one of the seasons would tackle Clinton's impeachment.

The project will dramatize the biggest moments in American history and those that served as commander-in-chief. 

The Commanders will include limited series ranging from four to 10 hours long and will tackle former presidents including Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Theodore Roosevelt, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. (History is also internally developing projects on George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Dwight Eisenhower.)

For the various installments, History has optioned several best-selling books including The Breach: Inside the Impeachment and Trial of William Jefferson Clinton by Peter Baker, Theodore Rex by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edmund Morris, Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates by Brian Kilmeade and The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan by Rick Perlstein.

Those involved include Emmy winner R.J. Cutler (best known for the political documentary The War Room, focusing on Clinton's 1992 run for office) and Stephen J. Rivele (Ali, Nixon), as well as Matthew Sand (Deepwater Horizon), Cyrus Nowrasteh (The Path to 9/11), Michael Hirst (Vikings, The Tudors) and Leslie Greif (Hatfields & McCoys).

"From the contemporary history of Clinton's impeachment and its lasting impact on the nation's political landscape and Reagan's influence that defined the Republican Party for generations, to Jefferson’s creation of the military might of the U.S. Marines — these defining stories forged our nation," said History president and general manager Jana Bennett. "The Commanders would bring history to life and speak to the crises we face in modern times."

Added Paul Buccieri, president of A+E Studios and A+E Networks Portfolio Group: "A+E Studios has already established a strong track record of premium dramas from prolific auspices and we're building on that tremendous momentum with contemporary history at its finest — from History's hit series Six to the development of The Breach: Inside the Impeachment of Bill Clinton. Shocking, revealing and consequential, The Breach: Inside the Impeachment of Bill Clinton, along with Rise of Reagan, Theodore Rex, War of 1812, Alliance and Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates, would be exceptional additions to our high-quality programming and development slate."

Although it has not yet been formally renewed for a fourth season, Ryan Murphy recently optioned Jeffrey Toobin's A Vast Conspiracy — a book about the scandal surrounding Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky, which led to his impeachment trial — for a potential future season of American Crime Story. History also has another anthology drama in the works, this one from Vikings grad Travis Fimmel centering on iconic sinners in history such as Wyatt Earp.

Projects in development for the Commanders anthology include:

The Breach: Inside the Impeachment of Bill Clinton

Based on Peter Baker's New York Times best-seller comes a political thriller that would bring viewers behind the scenes of an event unique in modern American history: the impeachment of an elected president. Featuring a who's who of contemporary modern political figures, the project would go into Republican and Democratic war rooms, revealing the infighting among the president's advisers; the secret back-channel negotiations between the White House and Congress; Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky; and the manner in which Clinton, his family and his political opponents all dealt with the fallout. The series would chronicle how Washington became lost in the breach of its own partisan impulses, an event that many argue has defined the political landscape today. A+E Studios will produce in association with Cutler Productions. Cutler (NashvilleThe War Room) serves as executive producer, writer and director, with David K. Israel also serving as a writer.  

Rise of Reagan

In the wake of economic decline and international tumult, a former actor and California governor named Ronald Reagan shook up the political world when he did the unthinkable, running against sitting Republican President Gerald Ford in a campaign that would ultimately ignite the “Reagan Revolution.” As president, Reagan redefined the Republican Party and shaped the course of American conservatism. A+E Studios will produce the project based on The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan by Rick Perlstein, who serves as consultant. Bill Haber (Rizzoli & Isles) is on board to executive produce the project, which was written by Cyrus Nowrasteh, author of The Day Reagan Was Shot.


The drama takes the viewer inside the summits held by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin as they strategize the campaign to win World War II. While creating the battle lines for the Cold War, Churchill and FDR realize the next great global threat is in the room negotiating with them. From Bad Wolf, the series is based on Alliance: The Inside Story of How Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill Won One War and Began Another by Jonathan Fenby, and is written and executive produced by three-time BAFTA Award nominee Stephen Butchard (The Last Kingdom). Julie Gardner, David Attwood and Martin Davidson also serve as executive producers.

Theodore Rex

In the aftermath of the assassination of President William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt rose to power as the youngest-ever chief executive of the United States. A complex and dynamic leader, Roosevelt was a man who lived many lives. From a life of East Coast privilege to Rough Rider out West, to police commissioner and governor of New York and eventually U.S. president, Roosevelt would become a trust-buster who battled with JP Morgan, a big-game hunter turned conservationist and ultimately a Nobel Prize winner. Written by Matthew Sand (Deepwater Horizon) and based on the New York Times best-selling book of the same name by Pulitzer Prize winner Edmund Morris, the show is produced by A+E Studios in association, with Critical Content’s Tom Forman, Andrew Marcus and Ray Ricord attached as exec producers.

Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates

With America’s merchant ships under attack, its citizens being held hostage and the U.S. Naval fleet sold off to help pay the debts from the War of Independence, President Thomas Jefferson’s decision to wage war against the Barbary Coast Pirates would transform not only the American military, but the future prosperity of the U.S. Based on Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War That Changed American History, the New York Times best-selling book by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger, this story would chart Jefferson's refusal to back down against the aggression of the Barbary Pirates and tell the story of his domestic battles to get backing for foreign intervention and to build a naval force, which led to the creation of the Marines. Their defeat of the pirates on the shores of Tripoli redefined American foreign policy for the two centuries that followed. From Thinkfactory Media, Leslie Greif will exec produce and Kilmeade will co-executive produce. Stephen J. Rivele will pen the script.

War of 1812

A few decades after securing independence, the fledgling United States, led by President James Madison, was once again pulled into battle with Great Britain and its Canadian and Native American allies. It was a fierce battle for control of territory and freedom of the seas that included the burning of the White House, and was the last large-scale attempt by the Native American nations to maintain power by forming an alliance with the British, which led to more than 100 treaties when the war ended. The drama hails from A+E Studios and creator and writer Michael Hirst (Vikings).