HBO makes ‘Deal’ for Tony Blair film

Frears' drama telepic will air on Nov. 8

HBO has acquired “The Deal,” Stephen Frears’ 2003 telepic charting the rise to power of former U.K. prime minister Tony Blair, and will air it on Nov. 8.

Written by Peter Morgan (“The Queen,” “Longford”), the film centers around the relationship between Blair, played by Michael Sheen (“The Queen”), and current Prime Minister Gordon Brown, played by David Morrissey (“State of Play”).

As the first film in Morgan’s “Blair Trilogy,” “The Deal” introduces Sheen as a young Blair and culminates in the 1994 Labour Party leadership contest, which saw Brown allegedly step aside to allow his rival a clear run at the top job. Sheen reprised the role three years later for “The Queen.”

“It’s a small movie but it’s an extraordinarily smart and insightful look at the way politics works on the inside,” said HBO Films prexy Colin Callender. “Although it’s set in England, it’s completely applicable in terms of the dynamics to the American political landscape.”

Produced by Granada Television for Blighty’s Channel 4, the film was picked up for the U.S. earlier this year by the Weinstein Co., which bought the North American and Australasian rights from Channel 4 Intl.

Brown finally succeeded Blair as Prime Minister in June this year, and Morgan has updated the film with new end cards to reflect the change in leadership.

According to Callender, HBO has also expressed interest in Morgan’s planned follow-up to “The Queen,” which will explore Blair’s relationships with Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

As with “The Deal” and “The Queen,” former Granada/ITV production exec Andy Harries and BBC Films’ Christine Langan will produce the new film, which has yet to secure a U.K. broadcaster.

TWC’s Genius Products will release “The Deal” on DVD next year.