The script by Joey Hartstone, a 2014 Black List winner, centers around the political upheaval that Vice President Johnson faced when he was thrust into the presidency at the hands of an assassin’s bullet in November 1963. With political battles on both sides of the aisle, Johnson struggles to heal a nation and secure his presidency by passing Kennedy’s historic Civil Rights Act.
The political drama is the second film on LBJ, albeit the other is an HBO film starring Bryan Cranston reprising his role from Robert Schennkkan’s critically-acclaimed stage play All the Way. Cranston won a Tony for the role. HBO’s version is being executive produced by Steven Spielberg.
“During the sixties, I was a hippy and Lyndon Johnson was my president. At the time LBJ was the target of most of my generation’s anti-Vietnam-War anger. But as time has passed and my understanding of political realities has grown; I’ve come to see LBJ in a very different light,” said Reiner in a statement. “He was a complex man; a combination of brilliant political instinct, raw strength, ambition, and deep insecurities. The strength and power of persuasion that he showed to his colleagues existed alongside of a soft, almost childlike quality that perhaps only Lady Bird got to see. His life’s path was nothing short of Shakespearean. From the poor hill country of West Texas to the corridors of power in Washington, he used his brilliant political acumen to pass the most groundbreaking civil rights legislation of the twentieth century. And had it not been for the Vietnam War, I believe he would have gone down as one of America’s greatest presidents.”
LBJ is being produced by Acacia Entertainment, Savvy Media Holdings, Castle Rock Entertainment, and Star Thrower Entertainment. Reiner will helm the project which is slated to begin in September 2015 in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, La., Dallas, Texas and Washington, D.C. Matthew George is producing the film alongside Reiner, Liz Glotzer, Michael R. Williams and Tim and Trevor White.
The project was originally developed by the brothers White (Star Thrower Entertainment) and is being financed by Acacia Entertainment, Savvy Media Holdings, Parkside Pictures, ITS Capital and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC).
Executive producers include Castle Rock Entertainment’s Martin Shafer, Elizabeth A. Bell , Susan Lanot (SMBC), Danny Roth and Damiano Tucci (Parkside Pictures), Allan Mandelbaum (Star Thrower Entertainment) Michael Tadross Jr. (Tadross Media Group) and Julie May (ITS Capital).
Sales are being handled by Voltage Pictures (international) and Creative Artists Agency (North American), which reps Reiner and Harrelson.