As Deadline reported late yesterday, Alec Baldwin has signed on as the star and executive producer of HBO’s as-yet-untitled political drama. In the series, written by the award-winning Wells Tower, Baldwin plays Joe Byrne, an affluent real estate developer thrust into the spotlight when he becomes the mayor of New York City. Described by Deadline’s Mike Fleming as an effort to “hit the tone of the lightest and most entertaining episodes of ‘The Sopranos’,” the series sounds like fresh competition for Netflix’s “House of Cards,” CBS’ “The Good Wife,” and ABC’s “Scandal.” For now, though, HBO, Baldwin, and Baldwin’s co-executive producer, Cary Brokaw, have yet to decide on which director will helm the pilot. TOH! offers a few options for the premium network to consider:
David Fincher may have convinced himself that “The Girl Who Played with Fire,” his follow up to “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” is bound to happen, but in the absence of evidence that Sony is serious about moving forward, the director could bide his time with another bold, high-end series premiere. Given Baldwin’s description of Byrne as “Trump without the baggage, Bloomberg but a Democrat, George Soros
if he was in real estate, a left-leaning Democrat who is also a
businessman,” Fincher may be the ideal choice, stylistically speaking. His two episodes of “House of Cards” remain the series’ sleek, sour high point, and last fall’s devilishly funny “Gone Girl” spoke to his interest in lurid media spectacles, sex scandals, and political posturing. Who wouldn’t want to see Baldwin find his inner Amazing Amy?
When it comes to finding the narrative tension in hot-button political issues, “The Good Wife” stalwart Brooke Kennedy is an old hand. In “Live from Damascus,” “A Defense of Marriage,” “Rape: A Modern Perspective,” and “Dramatics, Your Honor,” among other episodes, she deployed the clever pacing of critics’ favorite network series to ensure that controversial topics never lost their nuance, and that ripped-from-the-headlines stories never superseded the series’ rich cast of characters. With “The Good Wife” ending next season, Kennedy could use a new gig, and the pilot of Baldwin’s topical drama would be the perfect audition.
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If 14 episodes of Aaron Sorkin’s gloriously idealistic political fiction “The West Wing” have you thinking that Schlamme is too soft for HBO, think again. As well as he directed the zippy dialogue and loopy humor of Sorkin’s media-saturated liberal America, in “Sports Night,” “The West Wing,” and “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” his two recent efforts behind the camera on FX’s tremendous “The Americans” are proof of his dramatic chops. In “Open House,” which features an extended, slow-speed pursuit followed by one of the fiercest marital encounters in recent television history, Schlamme balances the subtleties of suspense with eye-popping set pieces. It’s one of the best hours of television I’ve seen so far this year, and for that alone he deserves a look from HBO.
Lesli Linka Glatter
The insanely prolific Glatter, who cut her teeth on “Twin Peaks” and “ER,” has since directed episodes of “Mad Men,” “Justified,” and “Homeland”—the uneven Showtime series’ finest hour, “Q+A,” has Glatter’s name on it. This is a mark of her versatile, even chameleonic skills, but a pilot might allow her to collaborate in crafting a style and tone all her own. She can do mid-century chic and modern Western, serial and procedural, but it would be most interesting to see Glatter do Glatter. With Baldwin and company searching for such a distinct and delicate tone, her wide array of experiences can only help.
If HBO is determined to choose a flashy name to bring attention to the new series, Affleck—if you can squeeze into his busy schedule—is close to perfect. Good looks, star power, a couple of Oscars on his mantle, and an ability to treat politics, whether of Boston’s underworld or U.S.-Iranian relations, as the motor of wicked thrills. In “Gone Baby Gone,” “The Town,” and “Argo,” Affleck proved himself a purveyor of popular entertainments from behind the camera as well as in front of it.