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Showtime Acquires Rights to Bill Clinton, James Patterson Novel ‘President Is Missing’

The television rights to the upcoming Bill Clinton-James Patterson novel “The President Is Missing” have been acquired by Showtime with plans to adapt it into a series, the network announced Friday.

Set to be published in 2018, the book tells the story of a sitting U.S. president’s disappearance, with the level of detail that only someone who has held the office can know. Clinton and Patterson’s collaboration on the novel marks the first time an American President has ever co-authored a thriller. The rights were acquired by Showtime in a competitive situation, with many networks and streaming services trying to secure the rights. It is said that CBS chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves’ longstanding relationship with both Clinton and Patterson was instrumental in bringing the project to Showtime.

Insiders say only certain parties were even granted meetings with the list of suitors ranging from Steven Spielberg and Peter Chernin to Justin Lin and Brian Grazer. Sources say a 10-page proposal was sent out to buyers and top producers at the end of July by email with a watermark of the parties’ name.

At least eight offers were submitted with CAA asking in the low to mid-eight figure range. Sources say reps for Clinton and Patterson were using the sale number for “Killers of the Flower Moon”, which sold to Imperative Entertainment for $5 million earlier this year with Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese attached to star and direct, as a starting point for buyers given the star power Clinton and Patterson brought to the table.

While meetings continued, sources say besides Showtime the finalist included Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment, Justin Lin, Mark Gordon, Scott Stuber, and Netflix on the film side, and Lorne Michaels.

“Bringing ‘The President Is Missing’ to Showtime is a coup of the highest order,” Showtime president and CEO David Nevins said. “The pairing of President Clinton with fiction’s most gripping storyteller promises a kinetic experience, one that the book world has salivated over for months and that now will dovetail perfectly into a politically relevant, character-based action series for our network.”

The 42nd President of the United States, Clinton has written bestselling nonfiction books including “My Life,” “Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy, Between Hope and History,” “Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World,” and “Putting People First: How We Can All Change America.” “The President Is Missing” is his first novel.

“I’m really enjoying writing this book and working with Jim,” said Clinton. “And I can’t wait to see Showtime bring the characters to life.”

A prolific author, Patterson has set the single-author record for the most number one New York Times bestsellers, having sold over 380 million books worldwide. Many of his works have been adapted for the screen, with the adaptation of his novel “Zoo” currently in its third season on CBS. CBS will also air “Instinct” this spring, which is also based on a Patterson book. Patterson is an executive producer on both projects.

“The White House is such an exciting world to explore and is made even more so with the unique insights of a former President,” said Patterson. “Rich storytelling opportunities for this series abound.”

Justin Kroll contributed to this report. 

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