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HBO has presidents, war on horizon

Hanks' Playtone producing 'Pacific,' 'Adams'

Fact-based takes on historical events past and present dominate HBO’s slate of upcoming big-budget miniseries, as the cabler tackles the birth of the nation, World War II and the start of the Iraq war.

Tom Hanks’ Playtone shingle is behind two of them: “John Adams” and “The Pacific.”

Paul Giamatti stars as “John Adams,” which will focus on the life of the second U.S. president and American Revolutionary leader. Mini is based on the David McCullough biography, which positions Adams as a key force behind the Declaration of Independence, the Revolutionary War and the early days of the U.S. government.

Laura Linney is set as Adams’ wife, Abigail, while David Morse plays George Washington, Tom Wilkinson tackles Ben Franklin and Stephen Dillane plays Thomas Jefferson. Project, which began shooting this winter, will air in seven segments.

Hanks and Playtone topper Gary Goetzman are exec producers on “John Adams.” They’re also two of the forces on “The Pacific,” which comes from Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks. (Australia’s Seven Network is also a producer.)

A sequel of sorts to Spielberg and Hanks’ “Band of Brothers,” the $200 million “The Pacific” switches the World War II focus to the Pacific theater. The 10-part mini will center on the U.S. fight against Japan through the eyes of three U.S. Marines.

Playtone has been busy of late. It just landed another historical mini at HBO: an adaptation of the new book “Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy.”

Meanwhile, on to more recent events, “Generation Kill” (which is shooting in Africa) is based on the book by Rolling Stone contributing editor Evan Wright about his time as an embedded reporter at the start of the Iraq conflict in 2003. Each seg will focus on a different soldier.

Company Pictures is behind the project; George Faber, David Simon, Edward Burns, Charles Pattinson and Anne Thomopoulos exec produce.

Reached in Namibia, Faber says the 20 core actors on “Generation Kill” were put through a rigorous, nine-day boot camp in Africa to prepare for the roles.

“They were licked into shape by real-life Marines and are finer physical specimens than they were 10 days ago,” Faber says. “They’ve received their certificates and appear to have been whipped.”

“Generation Kill” will shoot until Christmas.

Faber and Company, which were behind the Emmy-winning mini “Elizabeth I,” are also working on the telepic “Einstein and Eddington” for the cabler.

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