You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

They’re real, and they’re spectacular

Mini, Movie & Spesh

Emmy voters displayed a taste for fact-based flair in the miniseries, movie or dramatic special writing competish this year, nominating three projects based on true stories and characters.

Danny Strong, the Emmy-nominated writer of HBO’s “Recount,” says true events are “inherently dramatic,” and Kirk Ellis, the Emmy-nominated scribe of the pay cabler’s “John Adams,” believes there is a real hunger for factual entertainment.

“There’s a depth in them you don’t find in most stories,” Ellis says.

Even Ricky Gervais, who with Stephen Merchant received a nom for their fictional “Extras: The Extra Special Season Finale,” notes that bits of “Extras” were semiautobiographical and that the writers’ love for realism can be seen in the show.

“There is a real investment there when something feels real,” Gervais says, “and I have always said you want the characters to be as funny onscreen as your friends, because in real life those are the people that really make you laugh.”

Merchant adds it’s the payoff that comes from realism that is so rewarding.

“You have a little more investment put into something if it is based on true events,” he says.

In the cases of other nominees, fact and fiction cross paths in interesting ways. PBS’ “Masterpiece” presentation of “Cranford,” though fictional, was adapted by Heidi Thomas from a 19th-century Elizabeth Gaskell novel modeled on an actual town. “Bernard and Doris,” penned by Hugh Costello for HBO, depicts true characters but fictionalizes some scenes.

“I never wanted to do a biopic,” Costello says. “When you are dealing with someone like Doris (Duke), the temptation is to throw everything in.”

NOMINEES

Hugh Costello, “Bernard and Doris” (HBO)

Kirk Ellis, “John Adams” (HBO)

Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, “Extras: The Extra Special Series Finale” (HBO)

Danny Strong, “Recount” (HBO)

Heidi Thomas, “Cranford” (PBS)

More TV

  • Benicio del Toro Predator

    Benicio del Toro Joins 'Rise and Fall of the Brown Buffalo' as Exec Producer (EXCLUSIVE)

    Emmy voters displayed a taste for fact-based flair in the miniseries, movie or dramatic special writing competish this year, nominating three projects based on true stories and characters. Danny Strong, the Emmy-nominated writer of HBO’s “Recount,” says true events are “inherently dramatic,” and Kirk Ellis, the Emmy-nominated scribe of the pay cabler’s “John Adams,” believes […]

  • Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes -

    Our Staff Picks: TV Shows to Watch the Week of Feb. 19, 2018

    Emmy voters displayed a taste for fact-based flair in the miniseries, movie or dramatic special writing competish this year, nominating three projects based on true stories and characters. Danny Strong, the Emmy-nominated writer of HBO’s “Recount,” says true events are “inherently dramatic,” and Kirk Ellis, the Emmy-nominated scribe of the pay cabler’s “John Adams,” believes […]

  • GOOD GIRLS -- Pilot -- Pictured:

    'Good Girls' Creator Jenna Bans on How Donald Trump's Election Fueled Her

    Emmy voters displayed a taste for fact-based flair in the miniseries, movie or dramatic special writing competish this year, nominating three projects based on true stories and characters. Danny Strong, the Emmy-nominated writer of HBO’s “Recount,” says true events are “inherently dramatic,” and Kirk Ellis, the Emmy-nominated scribe of the pay cabler’s “John Adams,” believes […]

  • Berlin: The Rules for International TV

    Berlin: The Rules for International TV Drama May Be Changing

    Emmy voters displayed a taste for fact-based flair in the miniseries, movie or dramatic special writing competish this year, nominating three projects based on true stories and characters. Danny Strong, the Emmy-nominated writer of HBO’s “Recount,” says true events are “inherently dramatic,” and Kirk Ellis, the Emmy-nominated scribe of the pay cabler’s “John Adams,” believes […]

  • TV Divorce

    The TV Divorce: For Couples Who Can't Agree on What to Watch

    Emmy voters displayed a taste for fact-based flair in the miniseries, movie or dramatic special writing competish this year, nominating three projects based on true stories and characters. Danny Strong, the Emmy-nominated writer of HBO’s “Recount,” says true events are “inherently dramatic,” and Kirk Ellis, the Emmy-nominated scribe of the pay cabler’s “John Adams,” believes […]

  • February 19, 2018 - Pyeongchang, GANGWON,

    TV Ratings: Winter Olympics Lose Steam Over Weekend

    Emmy voters displayed a taste for fact-based flair in the miniseries, movie or dramatic special writing competish this year, nominating three projects based on true stories and characters. Danny Strong, the Emmy-nominated writer of HBO’s “Recount,” says true events are “inherently dramatic,” and Kirk Ellis, the Emmy-nominated scribe of the pay cabler’s “John Adams,” believes […]

  • The Crown Season 2

    Sony Television Crowns New International Production Management Team

    Emmy voters displayed a taste for fact-based flair in the miniseries, movie or dramatic special writing competish this year, nominating three projects based on true stories and characters. Danny Strong, the Emmy-nominated writer of HBO’s “Recount,” says true events are “inherently dramatic,” and Kirk Ellis, the Emmy-nominated scribe of the pay cabler’s “John Adams,” believes […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content