Jeff Daniels will star as former FBI director James Comey in a four-hour CBS Studios event miniseries based on A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership, Comey’s New York Times No. 1 bestselling book. The seventh director of the FBI, Comey served from 2013-17, and his book covered his role in helping to change the Bush administration’s policies on torture and electronic surveillance to overseeing the Hillary Clinton email investigation as well as possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, and before that his tenure as a prosecutor of terrorists, mobsters and Martha Stewart. Of course, a big part of the narrative and focus of the mini is his testy relationship with and eventual firing by President Donald Trump.
Filming begins in November and an airdate will be announced later. It’s also still to be decided whether the limited series will air on Showtime, CBS All Access or potentially both.
Billy Ray, who scripted the nonfiction films Captain Phillips, Shattered Glass and the upcoming Clint Eastwood-directed Richard Jewell, adapted the book and will direct the mini. Alex Kurtzman, Shane Salerno and Heather Kadin are the executive producers. The mini is produced by Secret Hideout, The Story Factory and Home Run Productions in association with CBS Television Studios.
Daniels is about to complete 52 straight weeks without missing a performance on Broadway of To Kill a Mockingbird, Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Harper Lee novel for which Daniels was nominated for a Tony Award for his portrayal as Atticus Finch, the attorney who defends a black man accused of raping a white woman in Depression-era Alabama. Mockingbird has established itself as the highest-grossing American play in Broadway history. Daniels has twice won Emmys: Best Lead Actor for The Newsroom and most recently Best Supporting Actor for Godless.
“Jeff is so perfect for this part. Great actor, instant integrity, loads of warmth, intelligence, complexity and gravitas,” Ray said. “We talked backstage after I saw him in To Kill a Mockingbird on Broadway, and I knew I was looking at the only person who could play Jim Comey. Lucky for me, he said yes.”
After CBS Television Studios won an auction for Comey’s book, Ray spent a year meeting Comey and his family, journalists, FBI agents and government officials from both sides of the aisle to researching and give a fair hearing to the mini. Comey’s a project which, while an early tumultuous event in the Trump White House, seems entirely relevant in the firings and scandals that have engulfed the administration.
The book’s title refers to the unflagging personal loyalty Comey claims Trump demanded of him over the Michael Flynn investigation, and when he didn’t get it, the president fired Comey from the top FBI post. Comey has said Trump expressed to him frustration over the investigation into possible Russian collusion and over the FBI’s unwillingness to prosecute Hillary Clinton for her handling of emails. Clinton has said that Comey’s decision to reopen an FBI inquiry into Clinton’s private emails shortly before the 2016 election was a major factor in helping Trump win an upset victory in 2016.
A Higher Loyalty has sold more than 2 million copies. Daniels is represented by ICM Partners and Martino Management.