Showtime, Liz Garbus Filming Trump-Focused Doc Series at N.Y. Times
The Oscar-nominated filmmaker is following the newspaper and its aggressive coverage of the administration — another big doc get for the cable network.
Their reporting will be televised. As The New York Times continues to be a leading source for coverage of President Donald Trump and his controversial, conflict-filled administration, filmmaker Liz Garbus is taking her cameras inside the iconic paper's newsroom during these rather unprecedented days for a new Showtime series.
The Hollywood Reporter has learned from multiple sources that the documentarian has been filming at the newspaper's headquarters for more than six months for a multipart series at the pay cable network. Showtime declined to comment, but sources tell THR that the project is intended to be both an inside look at how the paper is covering President Trump and the larger role of journalism today — as truths are challenged at every turn and the label of "fake news" is used by the current administration as a response to negative coverage.
The New York Times has been among the most aggressive in its investigative reporting on Trump, his administration's early stumbles and scandals and the continued fallout of various outside interferences in the 2016 presidential election. The paper's reporting on Trump, in particular, has drawn ire from the commander-in-chief. He has dubbed it "the failing New York Times" and "highly inaccurate" on numerous occasions. But it has been a boon to the publication's reputation overall. Its coverage has minted new journalist stars, notably reporter Maggie Haberman, and boosted the daily publication's online readership. In May, The New York Times Company reported rising digital subscriptions (308,000 added in the first quarter), even as overall advertising revenue dropped 7 percent. But even with that coverage, President Trump has not completely turned his back on the paper, as he sat down with Haberman, Peter Baker and Michael S. Schmidt in July.
This is not the first time that The Gray Lady has opened its doors to documentary cameras. The newspaper was famously the central locale of Andrew Rossi's 2011 feature Page One.
Garbus, nominated for the best documentary feature Academy Award in 2016 for What Happened, Miss Simone? — and, before that, The Farm: Angola, USA in 1999 — has been fluid with her distribution partners in recent years. What Happened Miss, Simone? was Netflix's first prestige documentary, and Garbus quickly followed it with the HBO doc Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper. (Bobby Fischer Against the World, Killing in the Name and Love, Marilyn are among some of her other more popular works.)
As for Showtime, the pay cable network continues to snap up high-profile documentaries at a seemingly greater frequency every month. In just the last few weeks, Showtime announced it secured the rights to Laura Poitras' Julian Assange close-up Risk and Oliver Stone's four-part sit-down interview with Vladimir Putin, as well as Becoming Cary Grant and hot Tribeca doc Whitney. "Can I Be Me." That's after a year that saw the high-profile efforts like Emmy-nominated Listen to Me Marlon. Showtime only began its documentary push in earnest in 2015 with the addition of CNN Films alum Vinnie Malhotra as a doc-focused exec.