History has given the green light to Grant, a six-part docuseries based on Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Chernow’s bestselling biography of Ulysses S. Grant. It will be produced by Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way Productions and RadicalMedia in association with Lionsgate Television.
The TV deal comes on the heels of Lionsgate and Appian Way acquiring movie rights to the Chernow biography to develop as a feature film with Steven Spielberg directing DiCaprio as Grant, as Deadline exclusively reported, part of Lionsgate’s cross-divisional collaborative approach to TV and film.
The docuseries examines Grant’s life story using his perspective and experiences to explore a turbulent time in history: the Civil War and Reconstruction. Grant is known for his role as Commanding General of the U.S. Army during the Civil War and as the 18th U.S. president from 1869-77, but few recognize his struggles during his youth, his time at West Point, his service in the Mexican War alongside some of the greatest names from U.S. military history or his several failed business ventures before the Civil War.
Criticized for a scandal-ridden presidency and with a reputation for being a drunk, Grant often was dismissed by scholars, even after he distinguished himself as an extraordinary military strategist and leader during the Civil War. However, a primary focus of his administration was Reconstruction and the herculean task to reconcile the North and the South. One of the most courageous and unexpected initiatives of Grant’s presidency was protecting the 4 million freed slaves who had become U.S. citizens with the right to vote – despite the enormous resistance he faced. Most notably after his presidency, Grant embarked on a world tour in the hope that Americans would forget the scandals during his term, and he negotiated a contract with a friend – novelist Mark Twain – to publish his now-famous memoirs.
Grant is produced for History by Appian Way and RadicalMedia in association with Lionsgate Television. DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson executive produce for Appian Way which is also producing Lionsgate’s feature film based on the same property. Dave Sirulnick, Justin Wilkes and Fisher Stevens executive produce for RadicalMedia. Chernow is executive producer. Eli Lehrer, Mary E. Donahue and Jennifer Wagman executive produce for History. Brian Volk-Weiss also serves as executive producer.
“Grant is one of the most brilliant, yet flawed figures in U.S. history and Chernow’s extraordinary biography has transformed our understanding of him at the deepest level,” said Eli Lehrer, EVP Programming, History. “This documentary will look at the Civil War and Reconstruction through the intriguing lens of Grant and we look forward to bringing Chernow’s fascinating portrait of this president to life.”
“We’re thrilled to be working with History and the amazing teams at Appian and RadicalMedia in offering viewers Chernow’s account of President Grant via a captivating premium television documentary,” said Lionsgate EVP of Alternative Programming Jennifer O’Connell. “Our alternative television team is also proud to be working closely with our motion picture group in complementing this high-end property by bringing Grant’s story to life through film, underscoring our collaborative cross-divisional efforts.”
“We value our relationship with both History and Lionsgate and are thrilled to be teaming up with RadicalMedia,” noted Davisson. “Chernow’s account of Grant’s storied history allows us to bring his story to life through different yet collaborative mediums.”