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TV

HBO developing Wag the Dog TV series

Barry Levinson is set to direct a potential pilot and Robert De Niro will executive-produce

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P.V. Caruso/New Line

More political satire might be on the way to HBO.

The premium cable network is partnering with Oscar-winner Barry Levinson to develop his 1997 film Wag the Dog as a half-hour comedy series, EW has confirmed. While Levinson is on board to executive-produce and direct the project if it gets a pilot, original star of the film Robert De Niro has signed on as an executive producer.

Long before Olivia Pope was the hottest fixer in Washington on Scandal, Wag the Dog followed De Niro’s political strategist as he hires a Hollywood mogul, played by Dustin Hoffman, to produce a fictional war as a distraction from a White House scandal.

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The Oscar-nominated film has gained relevancy in the President Trump era, as political pundits have drawn parallels between its plot and current events. Economist Nouriel Roubini described Trump’s recent missile strike on Syria as having a “Wag the Dog element,” and EW included the film in our 2016 Election Pop Culture Primer.

HBO’s logline describes the film as “an ode to the classic film, but moving the weapons of mass distraction beyond politics and into business, entertainment, and yes, non-profits. In the 21st century with the tools of social media at their hands, nothing is off limits to a small group of operators when it comes to manufacturing reality. Fake news is so yesterday.”

Pulitzer Prize finalist Rajiv Joseph is attached to pen the adaptation. Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Productions will produce in association with the Levinson/Fontana Company and Warner Bros. Television.

The series could enhance HBO’s reputation for strong political satire programming, which includes Emmy winners Veep and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

The news was first reported by The Hollywood Reporter.