×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

NBC and CNN Films Drop Hillary Clinton Projects

Pressure and protest from outside entities caused stir for both endeavors

NBC has pulled the plug on its Hillary Clinton biopic miniseries, making it official a few hours after CNN confirmed it was nixing a planned documentary on the presumed Democratic presidential candidate.

NBC’s narrative miniseries was to have starred Diane Lane. The script hadn’t even been written, but the Peacock’s announcement of the project in July stirred a hornet’s nest of protest from Republican circles, citing the perceived favoritism of focusing on a presumptive Democratic candidate in 2016.

“After reviewing and prioritizing our slate of movie/mini-series development, we’ve decided that we will no longer continue developing the Hillary Clinton mini-series,” NBC said in a statement.

CNN Films made its decision after the director stepped down from the project, citing pressure from both sides of the political aisle.

A spokesperson for CNN Worldwide explained, “Charles Ferguson has informed us that he is not moving forward with his documentary about Hillary Clinton … [W]e won’t seek other partners and are not proceeding with the film.”

The projects had the potential to bring a broader array of viewers to both networks, both of which are in the midst of rebuilding. CNN has made some ratings gains under CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker, while introducing a slate of so-called “docu-series” and documentary films. NBC, meanwhile, has been casting about for programming that will add to the momentum it gained last season from “The Voice.”

The controversy surrounding the two projects points to challenges many TV networks could face as they seek to tackle more special events and limited-series programming tied to real-life stories. Fox, for example, has announced a project based on the life of O.J. Simpson. Earlier today, CBS put in place an executive whose job it is to acquire new projects that could come from books and historical events.

But like reporters chasing a potentially hot story, the networks may find the subjects of these new program ideas simply don’t want to be part of the story.
Ferguson wrote a blog for the Huffington Post today, where he said that pressure from Clinton aides and supporters — as well as from the Republican National Committee — led to many interview subjects and sources shying away from him.

He wrote, “When I approached people for interviews, I discovered that nobody, and I mean nobody, was interested in helping me make this film. Not Democrats, not Republicans — and certainly nobody who works with the Clintons, wants access to the Clintons, or dreams of a position in a Hillary Clinton administration.”

The project’s announcement drew immediate ire from the RNC, which voted to ban CNN (and NBC) from hosting or sponsoring Republican primary debates.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Mark-Paul Gosselaar 'Was Never Approached' for

    Mark-Paul Gosselaar Says He 'Was Never Approached' for 'Saved by the Bell' Revival

    The Bayside gang is reuniting, but Zack Morris isn’t invited — for the time being, at least. Mark-Paul Gosselaar, who played the good-looking yet incorrigible Zack in NBC’s beloved “Saved by the Bell” series, said he was never approached to take part in the show’s forthcoming TV sequel, which will reprise roles from Mario Lopez [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    How Showrunners Handled Staffing Season Amid WGA-ATA Feud

    This year’s TV staffing season wasn’t quite like any before. Described as a “free for all” by “Batwoman” creator and showrunner Caroline Dries and “like the Wild Wild West” by “Legacies” creator and showrunner Julie Plec, the WGA-ATA debacle has had deep-seated effects on the way showrunners staff their writers’ rooms and search for fresh [...]

  • 2020 TV Season Preview

    How 2020's Fall TV Season Is Already Shaping Up

    Aiming to stand out in a crowded field, broadcasters this season have leaned on the stability of their schedules and the return of established hits. But for many of the same reasons, they’ve also begun to seed the ground for next year’s crop of shows, considering that top performers like “How to Get Away With [...]

  • David E Kelley

    Looking Back on David E. Kelley's History-Making Double Emmy Wins 20 Years Later

    David E. Kelley thought there’d been a mistake. On Sept. 12, 1999, the prolific showrunner was backstage at the Shrine Auditorium, having just accepted the best drama series Emmy for “The Practice,” when he heard his name called again. Kelley immediately figured that the producers were summoning him out again to take the award away [...]

  • Joel Stillerman Owen Shiflett Content Superba

    Joel Stillerman Launches Endeavor-Backed TV Company, Owen Shiflett Joins in Senior VP Role

    Former Hulu content chief Joel Stillerman is partnering with Endeavor Content on a new television production company. Variety has learned that Stillerman is launching the Endeavor-backed Content Superba, which will be based in Los Angeles. In addition, Shudder and Sundance Now executive Owen Shiflett has joined the company as senior vice president of development and [...]

  • Donick Cary and Kumail NanjianiYoung Literati

    Comedy Central Inks First-Look Animation Deal With Donick Cary

    Comedy Central has signed a first-look animation producing deal with Donick Cary, best known for his work as a former head writer for “The Late Show with David Letterman” and co-executive producer of “The Simpsons” and other shows. Under the terms of his deal, Cary will develop and produce animation projects across all platforms for [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content