The premium cabler has decided not to move forward with its buzzy pilot which starred David Oyelowo and was based on the book of the same name by Clinton and Patterson, Variety has learned exclusively from Oyelowo’s co-star Ann Dowd.
Speaking at a junket for the new Netflix film “Rebecca,” Dowd revealed that a combination of COVID-19 and current political events were behind the prospective series’ demise. Another source close to the production confirmed that the pandemic played a significant part in the network’s decision.
“[Production] stopped midway and then because of the pandemic, the relevance of it, things needed to be changed in the writing because of what happens to the President. It just wouldn’t have worked. It would have had to have been re-conceived,” Dowd said.
News of the project being jettisoned comes more than three years after Showtime acquired the rights to the novel, ahead of its publication in June 2018. It will be interesting to see whether the project is repurposed elsewhere, given that Showtime won the rights in a highly competitive situation involving multiple other networks and streaming services, according to sources at the time. Former CBS chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves was said to have be instrumental in bringing the project to the network due to his longstanding relationship with the two authors.
Anthony Peckham wrote the script for the pilot and and executive produced alongside Oyelowo, Clinton, Patterson, Bill Robinson, Leopoldo Gout, Christopher McQuarrie, and Heather McQuarrie. Jillian Share was on board as co-executive producing. The series was also set to star Michael Rooker, Janet McTeer, Ann Dowd, Medina Senghore, Paul Adelstein, and Gina Gallego.
“The President Is Missing” centered around powerless and politically aimless Vice President James Martin (Oyelowo), who is unexpectedly elevated to the Oval Office when President Jillian Stroud (Dowd) goes missing, despite his every wish to the contrary. He walks right into a secret, world-threatening crisis, both inside and outside the White House.