EXCLUSIVE: History has given the green light to The Breach: Inside The Impeachment of Bill Clinton, a six-part scripted drama series from R.J. Cutler based on Peter Baker’s bestseller The Breach: Inside the Impeachment and Trial of William Jefferson Clinton. FremantleMedia North America will produce in association with A+E Studios.
Written by Cutler and David K. Israel and to be directed and executive produced by Cutler, the political thriller, which is now casting, looks at how one of the nation’s biggest political scandals unfolded – from the revelation that President Clinton was having an affair with Monica Lewinsky, through the political combat that saw Hillary Clinton, Newt Gingrich, Prosecutor Ken Starr, Congressman Bob Livingston and many others dominating the national headlines. The series will take viewers inside Republican and Democrat war rooms, revealing the infighting among the President’s advisers, the secret back-channel negotiations between the White House and Congress, Tom DeLay’s strategy to force President Clinton out of office, and the Democrats’ pressure for Clinton to resign.
“Featuring an array of well-known modern political figures, The Breach will bring audiences behind the scenes of an event that changed Washington forever – the first impeachment of an elected president in American history,” said History’s EVP Programming Eli Lehrer. “This drama builds upon our core scripted programming slate of compelling, contemporary storytelling that embraces our recent history and we are confident R.J. will bring a unique vision to President Clinton’s gripping story.”
The Breach makes it a full circle for Cutler, who started his career as producer of The War Room, the Oscar-nominated documentary about President Clinton’s 1992 campaign for the White House.
“This is a story I have been wanting to tell for a long time,” Cutler said, adding that he “fell in love” with Baker’s book when it came out in 2000.
Cutler calls Clinton’s impeachment “the origin story” that defines the political moment we live in.
”It’s the origin tale of how our Government was broken and has never really healed, of the entrenched divide between the red and blue sates,” he said. “It’s the origin story of Hillary as political figure and the origin story of cyber bullying. It’s also a thrilling tale of personal and professional ambition, of enormous hubris in the name of acquiring power, and of personal foibles, all of which nearly brought down a presidency.”
Additionally, The Breach will chronicle the emergence of 24-hour news networks and the Internet’s rise to political power as it was then-little known blogger, Matt Drudge, who uncovered Clinton’s affair that rocked Washington.
“This is a moment in American history that altered the direction of this country,” said Dante Di Loreto, President of Scripted Entertainment, FremantleMedia North America. “It’s a deeply emotional and personal story that caused one of the biggest political storms in our history.”
The story in The Breach “begins the day President Bill Clinton testified to the grand jury and revealed that he was indeed having a relationship with Monica Lewinsky and ends the day he is found not guilty,” Cutler said.
As for Clinton’s relationship with the White House intern, “we are not focused on the scandal per se too much, we gear the storytelling around the impeachment, focusing on the characters involved,” Cutler added.
Ryan Murphy had previously announced the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal as the subject of the fourth installment in his American Crime Story franchise for FX. It is based on Jeffrey Toobin’s book A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down A President, which details the Lewinsky sex scandal that led to Clinton’s impeachment.
The Breach originally was announced as being part of an anthology series in development, The Commanders, which would dramatize pivotal moments in U.S. history that defined the legacy of an U.S. President. The Breach may no longer air as the first installment in The Commanders anthology but there are plans for it to be followed by limited series about other presidents. The Breach was one of six such projects put in development this past spring, with the others still in the works.
In addition to The War Room, Cutler, who won an outstanding reality program Emmy for American High, has done several other documentaries about contemporary politics, directing and producing A Perfect Candidate, and The World According to Dick Cheney.
Barry Jossen is executive producing The Breach for A+E Studios. FremantleMedia International will serve as the global distributor for the series.
Cutler is repped by CAA and Lighthouse Management and Media. Israel is with CAA.