By Brian Steinberg, Variety
Snagging an interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin has stood as a Holy Grail for several news organizations. ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos has been pursuing just such a “get,” and the idea has surfaced elsewhere as well. Premium cable network Showtime appears to have gotten the scoop.
The CBS Corp.-owned pay-cable network will over four consecutive nights in June air The Putin Interviews, a series of conversations between filmmaker Oliver Stone and the Russian chief of state. The documentary program will debut on Monday, June 12, at 9 p.m. eastern, with three more segments slated to appear over the next three nights.
“If Vladimir Putin is indeed the great enemy of the United States, then at least we should try to understand him,” Stone said in a prepared statement.
Stone and his longtime documentary producer Fernando Sulichin, interviewed the Russian leader more than a dozen times over the course of two years, Showtime said, most recently in February following the U.S. presidential elections. No topic was judged to be off-limits. Since first becoming the president of Russia in 2000, Putin has never before spoken at such length or in such detail to a Western interviewer, Showtime said. The network compared The Putin Interviews to The Nixon Interviews, the much-scrutinized series of conversations that took place between interviewer David Frost and former President Richard Nixon that aired 40 years ago in Spring 1977.
The Putin Interviews is produced by Fernando Sulichin, New Element Media, and Rob Wilson.
During the interviews, Putin expresses his views on relations between the U.S. and Russia; allegations of Russia meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections; NATO; and turmoil in Syria and Ukraine. He also discusses topics such as his rise to the Presidency, and his long tenure there; his personal relationships with Presidents Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Trump; Edward Snowden’s flight to asylum in Moscow, and the resignation of U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Some of the exchanges are surreal. According to Showtime, Stone introduces Putin for the first time to Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 Cold War satire Dr. Strangelove, which the two proceed to watch together.
This isn’t the first time Stone has held forth with a controversial world leader. In documentaries such as Comandante, Looking for Fidel, Persona Non Grata, and South of the Border, Stone has sparred verbally with Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, and Benjamin Netanyahu, among others. Stone’s last project with Showtime was 2012’s The Untold History of the United States, which examined factors behind seminal world events such as the Cold War, and the U.S. decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japan.
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