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With The Deuce heading into its final season next year, Simon will next adapt Philip Roth’s novel The Plot Against America as a six-episode miniseries for the premium cable network he has called home for more than two decades.
The Plot Against America imagines an alternate American history told through the eyes of a working-class Jewish family in New Jersey as they watch the political rise of Charles Lindbergh, an aviator hero and xenophobic populist, who becomes president and turns the nation toward fascism.
Simon and longtime collaborator Ed Burns (The Wire, Generation Kill) will co-write the script and executive produce alongside Joe Roth, Simon’s Blown Deadline Productions partner Nina Noble, Megan Ellison, Annapurna TV’s Sue Naegle and Susan Goldberg and Jeff Kirschenbaum. Dennis Stratton will serve as a co-exec producer.
The news follows a nearly yearlong dealmaking process for the project, which now arrives days after the midterm elections that saw Democrats regain control of the House in a country that has become increasingly divided under President Donald Trump.
Roth’s book, first published in 2004, has been called a masterwork of hypothetical history and is based on Lindbergh’s isolationist ideas as a spokesman for the America First Committee as well as the author’s own experiences growing up in Newark, New Jersey. The novel follows the 1940 presidential election in which Lindbergh defeats Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The HBO mini arrives a month after Amazon unspooled the third season of the drama The Man in the High Castle, which is based on Philip K. Dick’s alternate history in which the U.S. lost World War II and the country is divided, with Nazi Germany running most of the East Coast and Middle America and, on the other side of a small neutral zone, Japan running the West Coast. (That series has already been renewed for a fourth season at the streamer.)
The Plot Against America becomes Simon’s latest foray for HBO following The Wire, The Deuce, Treme, The Corner and Show Me a Hero. The outspoken journalist, author and showrunner has long been planning a political drama. Back in 2015, HBO announced it had picked up two pilots from Simon: a porn drama that went on to become The Deuce and a political entry set in the present-day world of Capitol Hill exploring partisanship and the influence of money on national governance.
This summer, during an ATX TV Festival panel marking the 20th anniversary of Blown Deadline Productions, Simon told The Hollywood Reporter chief TV critic Tim Goodman that he was struggling with how to capture the current political climate under Trump in a series and had thrown out multiple scripts as the landscape changed in Washington.
“We’re working to try to deliver that. I think it’s important to address this moment when the Republican South and all of our democratic norms and all of our systemic checks and balances, when they’re tottering,” Simon said at the time. “If you do what we do, which is address politics, there has to be a way to address this. But to go right at it, it’s a moving target. As fast as you think you’ve surrounded what’s possible, it falls over into some new insanity. What can you write that can circumnavigate porn stars and Russian bots targeting voters in Wisconsin counties? As soon as you think you’ve got a head for this, it’s like, ‘No, no, we’ll show you something. Stay tuned.’ That’s on the agenda: How do we deliver that political piece now for this moment? It’s going to be a struggle.” (Watch the full panel, below.)
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