“Do you think television now is the cutting edge arena?” TV critics asked Mike Medavoy during the TCA panel for his National Geographic Channel eight-episode limited series The Long Road Home.
“There’s no better way to tell this story, with the number of hours we got, than National Geographic,” he responded. “Television is a great medium today, especially in light of what’s happening to the movies.”
The project revisits the fight during the Iraq War when the First Cavalry Division from Fort Hood, Texas, was ambushed on April 4, 2004, in Sadr City, Baghdad, on a day that came to be known as “Black Sunday.”
“This is the fourth, maybe the fifth, war movie I have been involved with,” Mike Medavoy said, listing Platoon, Apocalypse Now, Coming Home and Thin Red Line, among his credits. “I thought it was time I told a story set in Iraq since it’s more current.”
“That’s what happens when you get older; you think ‘Hey, I better be current’,” Medavoy joked.
The large ensemble cast on stage spent a lot of time talking about the close rest-of-their lives relationship they forged with the people they portrayed in the project, to TV critics who could be forgiven for being just the teensiest bit cynical, given the many times they’d heard that claim, and seen it not born out, over the years.
But when ABC News veteran Martha Raddatz, on whose best-selling book the project is based, chimed in, it carried weight:
“I’ve covered war; Mike [Medavoy] has done many war movies… oou’ve all covered this industry a long time, but I know these people care deeply about these [military] families.”
“They have become their own band of brothers and sisters through the making of this movie.”
The series cuts between the soldiers on the ground and the homefront in Texas, where their families await news for 48 hours, expecting the worst. The incident, which took place 11 months after President George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech, changed the American military’s view of Iraq from a peacekeeping mission to a fight against domestic insurgents.
At the end of the panel, NatGeo announced the network had ordered a companion doc on the subject from Raddatz and ABC News’s Lincoln Square Productions.