EXCLUSIVE: Michael Stahl-David is joining the cast of Rob Reiner’s LBJ as Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, who despised President Lyndon Baines Johnson (Woody Harrelson). Bill Pullman and Richard Jenkins also play politicians, and newcomer Kim Allen will portray Jackie Kennedy.
Joey Hartstone’s LBJ script was on the 2014 Black List and focuses on the political upheaval that Vice President Johnson faced when he was thrust into the presidency after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November 1963.
Bobby Kennedy abhorred LBJ. His contempt of the former VP stemmed from LBJ’s overt (and whisper) campaign against his brother John in the 1960 election — a race that Bobby helped manage. LBJ, who also was trying to get the Democratic nomination for president during that time, tried to undermine his opponent by talking about the so-called “Catholic” issue as well as orchestrating a whisper campaign about Kennedy’s delicate health.
John did, indeed, suffer from Addison’s disease, but it had been kept under wraps, even after spinal surgery. At one point, Johnson called Jack Kennedy ”that little scrawny fellow with rickets.” That unveiled news about Addison’s then was picked up by Richard Nixon, who threatened behind the scenes to thwart the entire Kennedy campaign before patriarch Joe Kennedy got involved and foiled Nixon’s strategy with a little dirt of his own on the GOP candidate.
Bobby never forgave LBJ. His distaste for Johnson intensified when his sister-in-law Jackie Kennedy shared with him that initially LBJ did not want her to fly back on Air Force One after JFK was assassinated in Dallas because, as LBJ heartlessly opined, “She’s no longer First Lady.” But that was ironed out in spite of him.
LBJ is being financed by Acacia Entertainment, Savvy Media Holdings, Tadross Media Group, Parkside Pictures and ITS Capital. Matthew George is producing alongside Reiner, Liz Glotzer, Michael R. Williams, Tim White and Trevor White. Executive producers include Martin Shafer, Elizabeth A. Bell, Allan Mandelbaum, Danny Roth, Damiano Tucci, Michael Tadross Jr., Chris Conover and Julie May.
Sales are being handled by Voltage Pictures (international) and CAA (North America).
Stahl-David’s credits include Cloverfield and HBO’s Show Me A Hero. He is repped by ICM Partners and Greenlight Management.