The Washington Post

NBC developing drama series about George Washington

NBC is developing a drama series about George Washington, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography, “Washington: A Life,” in which Ron Chernow wrote that the country’s first president “ranks as the most famously elusive figure in American history, a remote, enigmatic personage more revered than truly loved.”

“Elusive figure,...remote, enigmatic personage,” broadcast TV series -- you know where this is going:

“History is written by winners, yet there are two sides to every story and then there’s the truth,” NBC’s logline for its “George Washington” project reads.

The potential series will, NBC says, be an “unprecedented intimate look at the enigmatic leader who became the father of a nation on one side of the Atlantic and a terrorist on the other.”

And, NBC continued, “he is not the man who chopped down the cherry tree.”

And, there’s no Santa Clause,” NBC added.

Okay, we made that last part up.

Anyway, the network has ordered a script, from David Seidler. You may know him as the guy who won the best-screenplay Oscar for the flick “The King’s Speech.”

“There’s George Washington the national icon, starting from the dollar bill with his supposed mouthful of wooden teeth, and then there’s the George Washington who had an adulterous affair with his best friend’s wife. The George Washington obsessed with social status, finely-tailored clothes, his image,” Seidler said.

To recap:

No wooden teeth — check.

No cherry tree chopping — check.

Loads of Sally Fairfax scenes — check.

Picking up where we left off, Barry Levinson will executive produce the series with Seidler and Tom Fontana, should NBC give it a greenlight. Levinson also has some thoughts about Washington:

“[T]he reality was he was a flawed and troubled character who learned over time to mask his tumultuous inner life.”

Likewise Jason Sosnoff, head of production and development at Levinson’s Baltimore Pictures, who would also get exec producer credit.

“With America’s on-going dialogue with leadership, there could not be a more important time to tell the story of a man who had tremendous vision and the will to carry it out against extreme polarization,” Sosnoff chimed in.

We leave you with the comforting thought that, if it goes to series, “George Washington” would be shepherded by NBCUniversal International’s Carnival production operation — the same operation that distributes PBS’s “Downton Abbey.”

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