New Line Cinema
The 1997 political satire WAG THE DOG is getting the television treatment from HBO, with original director Barry Levinson and star Robert de Niro returning for this small-screen adaptation. Should the project move past the development stage, Levinson will direct and executive produce with de Niro. Rajiv Joseph is on board to adapt and executive produce.
The original film followed de Niro as a professional spin doctor who hires a Hollywood producer (Dustin Hoffman) to create a fake war with Albania in order to distract from a political sex scandal days before the presidential election. The movie received positive reviews and received two Oscar nominations for Hoffman and Best Adapted Screenplay. It also won a jury prize at the Berlin film festival.
HBO has described the adaptation as moving it into the 21st century, where, “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.”
Tom Fontana and Jason Sosnoff, a producer on the original film, with also exec produce. Jane Rosenthal and Berry Welsh, partners with de Niro at Tribeca Productions are also set to executive produce and David Brock, a political operative in the Democratic party, is on board as a consultant.
Wag the Dog joins a long list of political projects currently in development for television, including several about Trump and the 2016 election, and just yesterday Mindy Kaling optioned a White House memoir.
Levinson currently serves as an executive producer on the TV series Killing Fields and Shades of Blue. He also recently directed the HBO TV movie The Wizard of Lies with de Niro. He’s represented by WME and Goldsmith-Thomas Productions.
Joseph most recently wrote the film Army of One and has two films currently in development, The Seventh Juror and an untitled Warner Bros. film with Bradley Cooper. He’s repped by Gersh and Kaplan/Perrone Entertainment.
Anya Crittenton | Associate Editor