Russell Crowe once played Javert, the antagonist in the film adaptation of “Les Misérables.” But Javert only tore one guy’s life apart. Now he’s taking on the role of a man who tore an entire nation apart.
Crowe has signed on to play Fox News Channel founder Roger Ailes in Showtime’s upcoming eight-episode limited series based on Gabriel Sherman’s best-selling book “The Loudest Voice in the Room.” The series will also draw on Sherman’s additional reporting about Ailes and Fox News in New York magazine.
Sherman co-wrote the premiere episode with Tom McCarthy (“Spotlight”), who is the executive produce with Blumhouse’s Jason Blum. Showtime and Blumhouse Television (“Sharp Objects”) are producing. The series doesn’t yet have a title; it had previously been developed with the title “Secure and Hold: The Last Days of Roger Ailes.”
“In many ways, the collision between the media and politics has come to define the world we live in today,” Showtime president/CEO David Nevins said. “We’ve seen this phenomenon depicted on screen as far back as the story of Charles Foster Kane, and it finds contemporary embodiment in the rise and fall of Roger Ailes. With Russell Crowe in the lead role, this limited series promises to be a defining story for this era.”
Ailes died in 2017, a year after he resigned from Fox News in disgrace. But the impact of the political advisor turned media mogul is being felt more than ever, as his Fox News Channel has been widely derided as “state-run media” during the Trump administration — serving as more of a propaganda cheerleading machine than as a check on the president’s thirst for power.
Showtime notes that Ailes and Fox News “irrevocably changed the conversation about the highest levels of government,” which is an understatement.
Added the network: “To understand the events that led to the rise of Donald Trump, one must understand Ailes. The upcoming limited series takes on that challenge, focusing primarily on the past decade in which Ailes arguably became the Republican Party’s de facto leader, while flashing back to defining events in Ailes’ life, including an initial meeting with Richard Nixon on the set of ‘The Mike Douglas Show’ that gave birth to Ailes’ political career and the sexual harassment accusations and settlements that brought his Fox News reign to an end.”
Sherman interviewed more than 600 people for “The Loudest Voice in the Room,” and the limited series will be told through multiple points of view, aiming “to shed light on the psychology that drives the political process from the top down,” the network said. The series will also take a similar approach to how McCarthy told the story of the Boston Globe’s coverage of the Catholic Church’s sex scandal in “Spotlight,” which earned him an Oscar for co-writing in 2017.
McCarthy, Blum and Alex Metcalf will executive produce, along with Blumhouse TV’s Marci Wiseman and Jeremy Gold.
Crowe won the Oscar as best actor for “Gladiator,” and won a Golden Globe and SAG Award for “A Beautiful Mind.” His other credits include “The Insider,” “L.A. Confidential,” “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World,” “Cinderella Man,” “American Gangster,” “State of Play,” “Robin Hood” and “Les Miserables.”