HBO is ready to give Roy Cohn his Hollywood closeup. The attack-dog lawyer who became a mentor to Donald Trump is the subject of a new documentary set to premiere on the premium cabler early next year.
The untitled project features recently discovered audiotapes of candid discussions between Cohn and journalist Peter Manso, recorded at the height of Cohn’s career as a power broker in the rough-and-tumble world of New York City business and politics. It also includes an interviews with playwright Tony Kushner, whose Angels in America featured Cohn as a main character, and actor Nathan Lane, who starred in it as Cohn for nearly a year. Lane offers insights into how devastatingly dangerous the actual Roy Cohn was and how he wielded power through invective and innuendo. Cohn died in 1986, less than two months after being disbarred for unethical conduct.
The docu focuses on Cohn’s family, friends, colleagues, employees and lovers, as well as those targeted by him. The film focuses on key periods of Cohn’s life, including his time in Provincetown, MA, where he was considerably more open about his sexuality than in other settings, and where he shared a house with Manso and novelist Norman Mailer.
The film will be directed by Ivy Meeropol (HBO’s Heir to an Execution), granddaughter of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who spent much of her life feeling both repelled and fascinated by the man who prosecuted the Rosenbergs in what became known as the “atomic spies” case. Cohn got them convictions in federal court and then insisted that they be executed, which they were in 1953.
“The time has come for audiences to understand a man who — while hiding so much of himself from the world — has had a profound influence on our society, even to this day,” Meeropol said.