EXCLUSIVE: The pilot and second-episode scripts for an eight- to 10-part limited series about the behind (and in front of) the scenes machinations of the Donald Trump campaign is making the rounds in Hollywood, and Deadline just got our hands on the hot read. Written by political reporter Scott Conroy, who was the creative mind behind the Verizon go90 series Embeds (executive produced by Michael De Luca and former Fox News primetime star Megyn Kelly), Trump: It Happened Here is a ripped-from-the-headlines dramatization of Trump’s improbable made-for-TV race to the White House, from the writer and his reps Kaplan/Perrone Entertainment.
It begins with hotshot reality-TV producer Mark Burnett pitching The Apprentice as “Survivor meets Friends,” with real estate mogul Trump playing executioner-in-chief to then-NBC entertainment chief Jeff Zucker. Hope Hicks, who started as an agency publicist working on Ivanka Trump’s fashion line in 2012 and rose to become White House Director of Strategic Communications, is written as a very in-over-her-head Mary Richards in the pilot but already seems more Network‘s Diana Christenen by Episode 2. Corey Lewandowski‘s women issues apparently will be dealt with in subsequent episodes.
Now-CNN chief Zucker is portrayed as … well, Jeff Zucker.
Included in the scripts for the first two episodes is a scene depicting President Obama’s gut-bustingly funny take-down of the birther movement leader at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner – a humiliation some pundits say triggered a Trump revenge run for the White House.
Lots of Jeb Bush getting mowed over at debates is in the material, along with Republican political consultant Mike Murphy learning the hard way that none of the rules of campaigning seem to apply in a battle with Trump. Then-Fox News anchor Kelly’s mysterious debate-day Starbucks delivery makes an appearance in this script, as it does in her book, though Kelly has dismissed suggestions she was hinting at having been poisoned by Trump or a supporter the night she moderated the first GOP debate.
Steve Bannon is described by Conroy in the script as a “paunchy” middle-aged man who appears as if he “hasn’t shaved in two weeks and probably scooped up his wrinkled blue blazer off of his hotel room floor that morning.”
Conroy, also a CAA client, previously served as The Huffington Post’s senior political correspondent, reports for Real Clear Politics, and wrote an upcoming book called Vote First or Die. He also saw both the Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney campaigns as an embedded reporter and his verisimilitudinous touches are delicious.
In one scene, Trump is reminded by Hicks and Lewandowski to “appear … presidential.” After filling his mouth with a huge bite out of a Big Mac that he “starts chewing like a zoo animal,” Trump says: “Don’t worry about it. I’m going to be so presidential, you won’t believe it.”
At a rally as Hicks looks on “uneasily” from the sidelines, Trump makes fun of New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, who has a congenital joint condition that has crippled his right hand. Hicks asks Lewandowski, “Doesn’t he have some kind of disease?” to which Lewandowski replies, “I don’t know. Who cares?”
In another scene after Breitbart founder Andrew Breitbart’s sudden death, Bannon gives a pep talk to his D.C. editorial staff about defeating the Dems: “Everyone in this town thinks we’re freaks. Right-wing wackos who live in our parents’ basements and jerk off to Ayn Rand. Maybe they’re right. But at least we’re not out-of-touch plutocrats, like they are.”
Zucker, meanwhile, tells his reporters at CNN’s New York HQ that Hillary Clinton’s win is inevitable and viewers are sick of politics and not particularly interested in watching. “We’re gonna cover it and cover it well,” he says. “But we’re not gonna go overboard. People are sick of politics. Hillary Clinton is gonna win the Democratic nomination without lifting a [finger], and she’s almost certainly going to be the next president, too. Boring City. We’ll have to find new ways to keep our audience engaged with some Anthony Bourdain-style content. … Let’s go find CNN’s Duck Dynasty. Let’s find our version of the Kardashians.”