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Less than two months after Fox News severed ties with Bill O’Reilly amid multiple sexual harassment claims, corporate cousin National Geographic Channel has dropped plans for the latest movie in his successful Killing franchise, opting not to move forward with Killing Patton.
The latest film adaptation from O’Reilly’s best-selling Killing book series was first announced in 2015. The TV movie, about the iconic World War II general, had been slated for 2019.
“It was in development for a couple of years, and it was a difficult project to crack creatively,” the network said Thursday in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “Like most projects in development, it didn’t go the distance, so we passed on it.”
Nat Geo development executives brought in multiple writers to attempt to bang out a script, but ultimately decided to scrap it. Killing Patton is the first of O’Reilly’s Killing books that did not make it out of development at Nat Geo.
When Patton was first announced nearly two years ago, O’Reilly touted the franchise’s “winning streak.” Of the adaptation, he added: “I’m very confident our continued partnership [with Scott Free Productions and Nat Geo] will yield a gripping film about General Patton’s tragic death.”
Patton would have been the fifth Killing installment for the network, following Killing Jesus, Killing Kennedy, Killing Reagan and Killing Lincoln. They have long been ratings drivers for Nat Geo, which is majority owned by Fox News parent 21st Century Fox. Patton, which is technically book No. 4 in the series, was originally pitched by O’Reilly as a theatrical venture. (That’s one reason why Nat Geo signed on to adapt Reagan earlier.)
The book series on which the telepics are based have yielded even more impressive results for publisher Macmillan’s Henry Holt. In fact, every one of the Killing books — there are six total, including Killing the Rising Sun, about the downfall of Imperial Japan — has sold more than 1 million copies. It’s certainly among the reasons Henry Holt stood by their author after he was let go from Fox News.
“Our plans have not changed,” Holt publicity director Patricia Eisemann said at the time.
In fact, O’Reilly has another Killing book due out Sept. 19; Killing England will focus on the Revolutionary War era. And he has a young-reader version of Killing the Rising Sun — called The Day the World Went Nuclear — due out June 20. He also has published several books outside of the Killing series. Last year, he teamed with James Patterson for a children’s picture book called Give Please a Chance. O’Reilly’s Old School, which extols the virtues of “old-school” values, hit bookstores just before he was released by Fox News. Co-written with Bruce Feirstein, it also became a fast best-seller.
O’Reilly’s break with Fox News, and the big promotional platform the network afforded him to promote his other ventures, does not appear to have dampened book sales. The network parted ways with its No. 1 star after it was revealed in early April that payments totaling approximately $13 million had been paid out by O’Reilly and the company in order to settle claims. Some of the payments were previously known, others had been settled more recently. O’Reilly vehemently denied the allegations and said he settled the claims to spare his children a public spectacle. But dozens of advertisers bolted from his 8 p.m. program The O’Reilly Factor, even as his ratings showed no signs of flagging.
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