Showtime, Under Pressure, Shifts James Comey Mini to Pre-election Launch

THE COMEY RULE Still 1 - Jeff Daniels - Publicity -H 2020
Courtesy of CBS Television Studios/SHOWTIME

Showtime has changed course on its James Comey miniseries and will air it prior to the presidential election.

The Comey Rule, a four-hour miniseries starring Jeff Daniels as former FBI director James Comey and Brendan Gleeson as Donald Trump, will air Sept. 27 and 28, the premium cable outlet announced Wednesday. Showtime had previously announced a late November premiere, putting its airdate several weeks after the Nov. 3 election. 

Writer and director Billy Ray blasted the post-election airdate decision in an email to the cast, which also includes Holly Hunter, Michael Kelly, Jennifer Ehle, Peter Coyote, Steven Pasquale, Oona Chaplin, William Sadler, Scoot McNairy, Kingsley Ben-Adir and T.R. Knight. 

"I know what a disappointment this is to you," Ray wrote of the original premiere date, per The New York Times. "It is for me too – because while I’ve made movies about my country before, this was the first time I ever made a movie for my country. We all were hoping to get this story in front of the American people months before the coming election. And that was a reasonable expectation considering that we’d been given a mandate by the network to do whatever was necessary to deliver by May 15.

"But at some point in March or April, that mandate changed. Word started drifting back to me that a decision about our airdate had been made at the very highest levels of Viacom: All talk of our airing before the election was suddenly a 'non-starter.' I and my fellow producers asked for a chance to plead our case on the matter, but we were told that even the discussion itself was a 'non-starter.' (So was the idea of our getting the movie back from the network so as to seek another partner to air it.)"

Based on Comey's memoir A Higher Loyalty and interviews Ray did with the real-life figures in the story, The Comey Rule will give a behind-the-headlines account of the turbulent events surrounding the 2016 election and its aftermath through the story of two powerful figures, Comey and Trump. Their strikingly different personalities, ethics and loyalties put them on a collision course.

Ray (Captain Phillips, Shattered Glass) executive produces with Alex Kurtzman, Shane Salerno and Heather Kadin. The miniseries comes from Kurtzman's Secret Hideout, The Story Factory and Home Run Productions in association with CBS TV Studios.

Showtime has also made several other adjustments to its summer and fall schedule. It's acquired British drama We Hunt Together to premiere on Aug. 9 and moved limited series The Good Lord Bird, based on James McBride's novel, from Aug. 9 to Oct. 4. Docuseries The Comedy Store will also premiere Oct. 4. Another docuseries, The Reagans, is set for Nov. 15, and feature doc Belushi is moving from Sept. 27 to Nov. 22.