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The television adaptation of Michael Wolff’s best-selling book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House has landed a high-profile director.
Jay Roach, who won an Emmy for Game Change, HBO’s dramatization of the 2008 presidential election, has signed on to direct the planned TV series. A network has yet to be attached to the drama.
Endeavor Content — the financing and sales arm formed in October between sister companies William Morris Endeavor and IMG — purchased film and television rights to Wolff’s controversial chart-topping book in January in a deal said to be in the seven-figure range.
Wolff will executive produce the series with veteran Channel 4 and BBC executive Michael Jackson, who is now CEO of indie producer Two Cities Television, and John Lyons (Boogie Nights, The Young Pope). Roach also will be credited as an exec producer. Roach and Lyons are developing the project outside of their first-look deal with HBO.
For Roach, the move to direct Fire and Fury comes after he was attached to helm an HBO miniseries about the 2016 presidential election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton that was to be based on source material from Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. The duo’s book, about Trump’s stunning upset over Clinton, was to be published by Penguin Press, which dropped the book after Halperin was accused of sexual harassment by five women. HBO subsequently bailed on the mini, which was to reunite Roach with Game Change exec producer Tom Hanks.
The implosion of the Halperin project opened the door for a Trump tell-all series, with demand high for Fire and Fury given Wolff’s cinematic writing, fly-on-the-wall detail and millions of books sold.
Game Change was nominated for 12 Emmys and won five, including for outstanding TV movie, director (for Roach), writing, casting and actress for Julianne Moore. The film served as a sequel of sorts to the 2000 election film Recount, which earned Emmy gold for outstanding miniseries/movie as well as outstanding directing honors for Roach.
Roach was vocal about the division in the country ahead of the 2016 presidential election, warning that “the issues that have emerged” in the run-up to Election Day “are real.” “The people who are drawn to [Trump’s] movement, to be part of those crowds, they have real concerns and they are to be taken very seriously. They are not to be dismissed,” he said, going on to slam the “us-versus-them” divide that he saw behind Trump’s support.
Fire and Fury, which tells the inside story of Trump’s first year as president based on Wolff’s exclusive access to the White House, has been the publishing sensation of 2018. The book attracted little attention when it was first announced in November, but in January, The Guardian leaked news from the heavily embargoed book and authorized excerpts in New York magazine and a column in The Hollywood Reporter — where Wolff serves as a contributor — created a sensation. Trump attacked both the book and former White House adviser Steve Bannon, who was one of Wolff’s principal sources. Bannon later stepped down from Breitbart News in the aftermath of the publication of his comments in the book.
Fire and Fury debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list, where it would spend 10 weeks at the top. In less than a week, the publisher reported more than 1.4 million hardcovers on order and 700,000 copies shipped, making it the fastest-selling nonfiction book in the company’s history. All told, it has sold more than 2 million copies in all formats in the U.S. alone.
Roach, repped by WME, Mosaic and Behr Abramson, also counts Trumbo, The Campaign and the Austin Powers franchise among his credits. He is currently developing the features 67 Shots (about the Kent State shooting) with Tina Fey and ShivHans‘ EXO at Universal.
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