The as-yet untitled series (fka Secure and Hold: The Last Days of Roger Ailes), a Blumhouse Television and Showtime co-production, is based on Gabriel Sherman’s bestselling book The Loudest Voice in the Room and his extensive reporting for New York magazine about the sordid allegations of sexual harassment that prompted the late Ailes’ ouster at Fox News. Sherman co-wrote the initial episode with Spotlight writer Tom McCarthy, who will executive produce with Jason Blum.
Showtime landed the Roger Ailes limited series for development in April 2017, a month before Ailes’ death.
“In many ways, the collision between the media and politics has come to define the world we live in today,” said David Nevins, President and CEO, Showtime Networks. “We’ve seen this phenomenon depicted on screen as far back as the story of Charles Foster Kane, and it finds contemporary embodiment in the rise and fall of Roger Ailes. With Russell Crowe in the lead role, this limited series promises to be a defining story for this era.”
The Roger Ailes limited series was one of the first homegrown projects for Blumhouse’s independent TV studio, which launched with an ITV Studios investment shortly after the company had acquired the rights to Sherman’s book last year. Blumhouse attached McCarthy, an old friend of company principal Jason Blum, before setting the project up at Showtime. The greenlight comes after a small writers room led by McCarthy shaped up the series and produced multiple scripts.
According to the producers, telling the story of Ailes, who molded Fox News into a force that irrevocably changed the conversation about the highest levels of of government, will help understand the events that led the rise of Donald Trump. The series focuses primarily on the past decade in which Ailes arguably became the Republican Party’s de facto leader, while flashing back to defining events in Ailes’ life, including an initial meeting with Richard Nixon on the set of The Mike Douglas Show that gave birth to Ailes’ political career and the sexual harassment accusations and settlements that brought his Fox News reign to an end. Told through multiple points of view, the limited series aims to shed light on the psychology that drives the political process from the top down.
McCarthy, Blum and Alex Metcalf executive produce with Marci Wiseman and Jeremy Gold for Blumhouse Television.
McCarthy won the screenwriting Oscar for co-writing 2017’s best picture winner Spotlight, and earned a second Oscar nomination for directing the film.
Crowe won the best actor Oscar for his role in Gladiator and received two other best actor noms for A Beautiful Mind and The Insider. He most recently played Henry Jekyll in Universal’s The Mummy reboot and will next be seen in the Joel Edgerton-directed drama Boy Erased. Crowe is repped by WME and Bloom Hergott Diemer.
Blumhouse TV’s upcoming series slate also includes Sharp Objects on HBO, Into the Dark on Hulu and The Purge on USA/Syfy.
Showtime has been examining the intersection of politics and media with its docuseries The Circus: Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth.