National Geographic Channel will announce today that it is continuing its successful partnership with Scott Free Productions to produce and premiere an adaptation of Killing Reagan, the latest book in the “Killing” series from Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard. Their Killing Lincoln, Killing Kennedy and Killing Jesus are the most-watched programs in NatGeo Channel history (Kennedy and Jesus also were Emmy nominated in 2014 and 2015).
The announcement coincides with today’s official publication date for Killing Reagan by Henry Holt and Company.
Although Killing Reagan has not yet identified a scripter, the plan is to move as quickly as possible on the project written by the Fox News Channel star to get it on the air during the presidential election cycle, Tim Pastore, President of Original Programming & Production at NGC US told Deadline.
“The intent here is to move aggressively … to be part of that zeitgeist, especially during a time when politicians are drawing more attention than they have in recent years,” he said. “For us it’s the perfect opportunity to bring the next Killing franchise to light.”
Killing Reagan is a slight departure in the franchise, in that the 1981 attempt on Reagan’s life was unsuccessful. Pastore predicted it would not impact viewer interest. “What it allows us to do creatively is to tell a new type of story within the franchise – to shift the perspective a little from solely building narrative arcs that end in death, to allowing the momentum of the assassination attempt as a vehicle to tell a broader story about an individual … and his impact on the world stage.”
Reviews out today on the book are mixed. USA Today, for instance, calls it a “misfire” in the franchise that “deals more with Reagan’s gradual descent into dementia, the result of his fight with Alzheimer’s disease” and assert Reagan exhibited signs of the illness during his presidency. The book also delves into Reagan’s “extramarital affairs in Hollywood, indifferent parenting, disputes with his second wife Nancy, and the multiple instances in which Reagan appeared to be not quite there,” the book says.
Killing Reagan is scheduled to premiere in 2016 on National Geographic Channel in the U.S. and in 171 countries in 45 languages, including Nat Geo Mundo.