History’s Working on ‘The Commanders’ Anthology Series

Michael Hirst
Michael Hirst at the San Diego Comic Con ((Photo by Richard Chavez / Showbiz Junkies)

History’s developing the ambitious scripted anthology series The Commanders with Michael Hirst (Vikings), R.J. Cutler (Nashville), Stephen J. Rivele (Ali), Matthew Sand (Deepwater Horizon), Cyrus Nowrasteh (The Path to 911), and Leslie Greif (Hatfields & McCoys). According to the network, The Commanders will examine defining moments in the lives of U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Theodore Roosevelt, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. The entries in the limited anthology series will range from four to 10 hours, with the source material to include bestsellers The Breach: Inside the Impeachment and Trial of William Jefferson Clinton, Theodore Rex, Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates, and The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan.

“From the contemporary history of Clinton’s impeachment and its lasting impact on the nation’s political landscape and Reagan’s influence that defined the Republican Party for generations, to Jefferson’s creation of the military might of the U.S. Marines – these defining stories forged our nation,” said Bennett. “The Commanders would bring history to life and speak to the crises we face in modern times.”

“A+E Studios has already established a strong track record of premium dramas from prolific auspices and we’re building on that tremendous momentum with contemporary history at its finest – from HISTORY’s hit series Six to the development of ‘The Breach: Inside the Impeachment of Bill Clinton,’” said Paul Buccieri, President of A+E Studios and A+E Networks Portfolio Group. “Shocking, revealing and consequential, ‘The Breach: Inside the Impeachment of Bill Clinton,’ along with ‘Rise of Reagan,’ ‘Theodore Rex,’ ‘War of 1812,’ ‘Alliance,’ and ‘Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates,’ would be exceptional additions to our high-quality programming and development slate.”

The Commanders Scripted Series Details:

Based on Peter Baker’s New York Times bestseller, The Breach: Inside the Impeachment and Trial of William Jefferson Clinton, which Bob Woodward called “the definitive work on Bill Clinton’s impeachment and trial,” comes a political thriller that would bring viewers behind the scenes of an event unique in modern American history: the impeachment of an elected president. Featuring a who’s who of contemporary modern political figures, The Breach: Inside the Impeachment of Bill Clinton would go into Republican and Democratic war rooms revealing the infighting among the President’s advisers, the secret back-channel negotiations between the White House and Congress, Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky, and the manner in which Clinton, his family, and his political opponents all dealt with the fallout. The series would chronicle how Washington became lost in the breach of its own partisan impulses, an event which many argue has defined the political landscape today.

The Breach: Inside the Impeachment of Bill Clinton is an A+E Studios production in association with Cutler Productions. Emmy Award® winner R.J. Cutler serves as executive producer, writer and director, with David K. Israel also serving as writer.

In the wake of economic decline and international tumult, a former actor and California governor named Ronald Reagan shook up the political world when he did the unthinkable, running against sitting Republican President Gerald Ford in a campaign that would ultimately ignite the “Reagan Revolution.” As President, Reagan redefined the Republican Party and shaped the course of American conservatism. Rise of Reagan is an A+E Studios production and based on The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan, by Rick Perlstein, who serves as consultant. Bill Haber is on board to executive produce and it is written by Cyrus Nowrasteh, author of The Day Reagan was Shot.

Alliance takes the viewer inside the summits between Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin as they strategize the campaign to win World War II. While creating the battle lines for the Cold War, Churchill and FDR realize the next great global threat is in the room negotiating with them. From Bad Wolf, the series is based on Alliance: The Inside Story of How Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill Won One War and Began Another, by Jonathan Fenby and is written and executive produced by three-time BAFTA Award nominee Stephen Butchard. Julie Gardner, David Attwood and Martin Davidson also serve as executive producers.

In the wake of the assassination of President William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt rose to power as the youngest chief executive in the United States. A complex and dynamic leader, Roosevelt was a man who lived many lives. From a life of East coast privilege to rough rider out west, to police commissioner and Governor of New York and eventually President of the United States – Roosevelt would become a trust-buster who battled with JP Morgan, built the Panama Canal, big game-hunter turned conservationist, and ultimately a Nobel Prize winner. Written by Matthew Sand and based on Theodore Rex, the New York Times bestselling book by Pulitzer Prize winner Edmund Morris, the show is produced by A+E Studios in association with Critical Content’s Tom Forman, Andrew Marcus and Ray Ricord serving as Executive Producers. Theodore Rex would be a definitive look at one of the most popular and larger-than-life leaders of the 20th century.

With America’s merchant ships under attack, its citizens being held hostage, and the US Naval fleet sold off to help pay the debts from the War of Independence, President Thomas Jefferson’s decision to wage war against the Barbary Coast Pirates would transform not only the American Military, but the future prosperity of the United States. Based on the New York Times bestselling book by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger, Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War That Changed American History, this story would chart Jefferson’s refusal to back down against the aggression of the Barbary Pirates, and tell the story of his domestic battles to get backing for foreign intervention and to build a naval force which led to the creation of the Marines. Their feat of the pirates on the shores of Tripoli re-defined American foreign policy for the two centuries that followed. From Thinkfactory Media, Leslie Greif serves as executive producer. Brian Kilmeade is co-executive producing. Script is written by Stephen J. Rivele.

WAR OF 1812
A few decades after securing independence, the fledgling United States, led by President James Madison, was once again pulled into battle with Great Britain and its Canadian and Native American allies. It was a fierce battle for control of territory and freedom of the seas that included the burning of the White House, and was the last large-scale attempt by the Native American nations to maintain power by forming an alliance with the British, which led to over 100 treaties when the war ended. From A+E Studios and creator and writer Michael Hirst, this is the iconic story of the little-known war that forever secured the nation’s independence and would see the origin of the Star Spangled Banner.