NBC is already putting Bill Pullman in the White House with its upcoming comedy "1600 Penn"; now the network is developing a drama project centered around real-life president George Washington.
The network is developing a script based on the New York Times bestseller "Washington: A Life," by Ron Chernow, an individual familiar with the project told TheWrap. Barry Levinson ("Rain Man," "Wag the Dog") is executive-producing the project, with "The King's Speech" screenwriter David Seidler writing and also executive-producing.
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"Downton Abbey" executive-producer Gareth Neame, Jason Sosnoff of Levinson's Baltimore Pictures and "Copper" writer Tom Fontana are also on board to executive-produce the project, which is being produced for NBC by Carnival Films and NBCU International.
The project, which bears the working title "George Washington," is billed as "an unprecedented intimate look at the enigmatic leader who became the father of a nation on one side of the Atlantic and a terrorist on the other. A man to be eliminated at all costs by the British Crown. As episodes move back and forth through the war hero and President's life and tell the little-known and unlikely story of his survival and triumph, his true character is revealed for the first time. And he is not the man who chopped down the cherry tree."
Seidler expressed his eagerness to explore the seedier side of America's first chief executive.
"There's George Washington the national icon, gazing out from the dollar bill with his mouthful of supposedly wooden teeth, and then there's the George Washington who had an adulterous affair with his best friend's wife," Seidler said. "The George Washington obsessed with social status, finely tailored clothes, his image. Not an icon, a very human human-being, who learned how to lead. That's the man I want to understand."
Levinson is equally eager to deflate the myth surrounding Washington.
"What's so interesting is here was a man who was more instrumental to what our country is today and more famous than any other figure in our history, and yet no one knows anything about him," Levinson noted. "We know the myth of the man, but the reality was he was a flawed and troubled character who overcame his flaws to become one of the foremost leaders of this nation."