Max O’Connell of IndieWire attended a panel at the Tribeca Film Festival last Friday called “Stories by Numbers,” which featured David Simon, House of Cards creator Beau Willimon, Nate Silver, and Anne Thompson, and today his colleague Ken Guidry flagged a noteworthy highlight from O’Connell’s recap: Simon talked a bit more about his idea for a TV series that recounts the early history of the CIA.
Simon has mentioned this idea in interviews as far back as 2009, and, on his website, he has asked people with personal experience of the CIA’s early years to email his production company. But according to O’Connell’s write-up, if I understand Simon correctly, HBO has essentially told him that, for financial reasons, they’re not interested.
“I’ve got a story that I’d love to do,” Simon reportedly said, “which I’ve been working on for eight or nine years, which is the history of the CIA, which would basically be America’s foreign policy footprint.”
“But it’s 70 years of period-piece filming, it’s all over the world, there’s a lot of CGI. Scene I, Act I is Berlin after the war, in total wreckage. And HBO goes, ‘Listen, it was all fun when we were giving him $20 million and he was making The Wire and no one was watching, but do you take us for fools?’ They’re looking at what the plausible revenue stream [would be] with all the downloads and BitTorrent. The window of this Golden Age of Television might have a point where it snaps shut on your fingers, because we’re talking like a Hollywood studio. ‘Can we get James Franco? If we get James Franco, you can make it.’ ”
What a downer. (Simon also said that, in his opinion, The Wire would not survive for five seasons if it were airing today.) Here’s hoping that Simon’s comments prompt greater interest and they decide to take a chance on this. If you want to learn more about his idea for the series—which would apparently be adapted from Tim Weiner’s book Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA—check out the “In Development” section on Simon’s website. I’ve emailed Simon to ask about his experience pitching the series and will update this post if I hear back from him.
TODAY IN SLATE
The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola
The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.
I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.
Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.
Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore
And schools are getting worried.
Global Marches Demand Action on Climate Change
- Protesters Take to the Streets to Sound Alarm on Climate Change in New York, Across the World
- Knife-Carrying White House Jumper is Vet who Feared “Atmosphere Was Collapsing”
- North Korea: American Sentenced to Hard Labor Wanted to Become “Second Snowden”
- Almost One in Four Americans Support Idea of Splitting From the Union
Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem
Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology.