The writer-director who brought “The Comey Rule” to Showtime last year is preparing an intensively reported dramatic series depicting the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection — its causes, its intense violence and the aftermath of one of Washington’s darkest days, according to sources familiar with the network’s plans.
Billy Ray, known for his portrayals of real-life figures in "Shattered Glass, Richard Jewell and Captain Phillips," is preparing a docudrama series that could stretch to eight hourlong episodes tracking some of the key figures who traversed the Capitol that day: the lawmakers fleeing danger, the rioters creating it and the beleaguered Capitol Police fending it off.
The series, like "Comey," is slated for a potential run on Showtime, which has ordered three scripts so far. Its narrative is based on extensive interviews with some of the key players involved in the events surrounding Jan. 6, though the show’s producers are remaining tight-lipped for now on its sources of information.
News of the series’ development lands as the increasingly complex investigation of the Capitol assault continues to play out in federal court, adding texture to the public’s understanding of the forces that led to Jan. 6.
The as-yet-untitled series is expected to begin with a glimpse of Donald Trump’s final days in office, with the outgoing president brooding over his defeat and fixated on his false, incendiary claims that the election was stolen from him.
It will then depict the insurrection itself, as a mob of Trump supporters — some who attended a Trump rally on the Ellipse, others who joined organized militias intent on stopping Congress from certifying the election results — rushed the Capitol and overwhelmed police for hours.
And the series will then focus on the aftermath, as Washington began seeking to make sense of the Capitol attack, and the criminal and congressional investigations still seeking to understand it. Each episode is expected to focus on a different point of view, whether it’s a congressman seeking to escape the mob, or an insurrectionist who traveled to Washington to carry out Trump’s exhortation to “Stop the Steal.”
Though it’s not immediately clear which aspects of the riot will be recreated, there’s no shortage of made-for-TV elements of the insurrection.
There’s the now-familiar heroism of Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman, as he diverted the mob from the still-occupied Senate chamber. There’s the fatal shooting of Ashli Babbitt, a rioter who was attempting to breach the House chamber. There’s the harrowing moments of dread from lawmakers and journalists themselves, stuck on the House floor as rioters began pounding at the doors and officers drew their guns. And there’s the still-murky role of violent militias like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, whose participation in the riot has led to the gravest conspiracy charges leveled by prosecutors so far.
"The Comey Rule" sought to pack the dense, complicated events of Trump’s 2016 election — the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email investigation, its probe of a potential Trump-Russia conspiracy and then-FBI Director James Comey’s polarizing tactics — into two two-hour episodes. Comey, whose book, “A Higher Loyalty” served as source text, was depicted by Jeff Daniels as a tortured, egocentric but ultimately righteous figure — though he’s remembered less fondly among various factions on Capitol Hill.
The series, though, generated a lot of eyeballs just weeks before the 2020 election, breaking Showtime’s record for the highest-rated limited series in the network’s history.
One of "The Comey Rule’s" producers, Shane Salerno, is joining Ray on the new project, along with producer Josh McLaughlin.
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