Showtime has greenlit a limited series that gives a behind-the-scenes look at the rise of Fox News and landed a top celebrity to play the cable news network’s controversial former chief Roger Ailes.
Russell Crowe, in his first regular TV role, has been cast in an eight-episode drama series titled The Loudest Voice in the Room, which is based on journalist Gabriel Sherman’s bestselling book of the same title.
The Gladiator star and Oscar winner will tackle the role of the executive who built and ran the Fox News empire. Tom McCarthy (Spotlight) will executive produce the drama along with Jason Blum (Get Out).
Ailes is credited with reshaping television news across several decades, including running Fox News for 20 years. He was forced out of the company in 2016 after being accused of sexually harassing Fox News staffers, and then died a year later.
“In many ways, the collision between the media and politics has come to define the world we live in today,” Showtime president and CEO David Nevins said in a statement. “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.”
While it’s unclear how closely the series will adhere to the book version of The Loudest Voice in the Room, the book was considered an “unflattering portrait” and received a bit of criticism for failing to land an interview with Ailes himself (though the author reportedly repeatedly tried to get him).
Here’s a detailed official description of the series from Showtime: “To understand the events that led to the rise of Donald Trump, one must understand Ailes. The upcoming limited series takes on that challenge, focusing 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.”
Continues the description: “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’s deft handling of similarly complex, high-stakes storytelling in Spotlight earned him an Oscar for co-writing 2017’s Academy Award winner for best picture, plus an Oscar nomination for directing. For the primary source material, The Loudest Voice in the Room, Sherman interviewed more than 600 people.”
Depending on the format of the storytelling, the greenlight means we might also get some very interesting casting announcements in the near future as actors might be tapped to play real-life former Fox News personalities such as Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kelly. That’s not confirmed yet, however.
There’s also no premiere date yet set for the project, though we’re hearing a 2019 debut is likely.