Steven Spielberg to Produce Bryan Cranston LBJ Mini-Series

Published 11 months ago by , Updated June 9th, 2014 at 9:25 pm,

all the way cranston Steven Spielberg to Produce Bryan Cranston LBJ Mini Series

Though the times are changing thanks to video on demand and a growing interest in both displaying and watching taped theatrical performances, the theater is, at its core and through no real fault of its own, a noninclusive medium.

Many of us will never get to see the finest actors on the grand stages of Broadway’s most historically rich venues and the revered West End; and even if we see one or two such performances, we can never see, appreciate and be inspired by them all. Say what you will about TV and film, but in that they deliver their best work to the masses (as well as all the other dreck that surrounds that work), we are all well served by them, particularly in this era of cable TV excellence where 18 million people can watch Peter Dinklage’s masterful work on Game of Thrones and 10 million people can watch Bryan Cranston take his last bow as Walter White on Breaking Bad.

When all the tickets are tallied up, there will be far less than 10 million people who got the chance to see Cranston fully embody his latest thoroughly complex character in All the Way, the Tony Award winning play from Robert Schenkkan about President Lyndon B. Johnson; but those numbers could swell if Steven Spielberg has his way.

According to Deadline, director and producer Steven Spielberg is interested in adapting All the Way into a mini-series – and he wants Cranston to reprise his role as LBJ, the 36th President of the United States in the period following the assassination of his predecessor, John F. Kennedy, and the eventful year that followed as Johnson worked to push through the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad Felina Steven Spielberg to Produce Bryan Cranston LBJ Mini Series

The assumption is that HBO could be a logical landing spot for this project due to its previous work with Spielberg (Band of Brothers, The Pacific) and, perhaps also their sterling track record with theatrical adaptations like Angels in America and The Normal Heart. However, HBO already told a Lyndon B. Johnson story in 2002 with Path to War; that film, from John Frankenheimer, dealt more with the Vietnam War, its toll on Johnson and the whole of his presidency, though.

Besides HBO, one imagines that any of the pay cabler’s rivals might be interested, considering the high profile nature of the project (thanks to its success at the Tony Awards) and the names that are attached. It’s also worth pondering whether this is a role that Cranston could play for quite awhile, albeit in quick bursts.

As Deadline further reports, Schenkkan also has another LBJ play in the works with The Great Society, which will continue to tell the story of President Johnson’s presidency through its culmination, the Great Society initiative and the Vietnam war. Could Spielberg and Cranston adopt a more UK-friendly format to tell both stories in 2 or 3 episode chunks per “season” as an event series? Would Schenkkan go further to tell the story behind Johnson’s last days, out of the spotlight and in poor health on his Texas ranch, while the world kept spinning?

Regardless, this project sounds like an ambitious, well intentioned look into the life of the controversial man who suddenly found himself presiding over a supremely tumultuous and transformative period in American history in the aftermath of an unspeakable tragedy whose scars can still be seen. it also sounds like a great way for Cranston to dedicate himself to a role (while maintaining flexibility) that is unlike any others that he has played on-screen, embracing his stated desire to not be “derivative” of himself – while allowing the masses to witness the transformation for ourselves.


Stay tuned to Screen Rant for more news about All the Way.

Source: Deadline

Follow Jason Tabrys on Twitter @jtabrys
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  1. Lebron James fans that didn’t read the article are like “Lebron is finally getting a mini-series! But why the heck is a white guy playing him Lebron can act perfectly…”

    • I’ve never heard anyone refer to Lebron James as “LBJ.”

      • It happens all the time

  2. LBJ was the 36th president fyi

    • Right you are, sorry about the typo. Thanks.

  3. I wonder if they downplay the fact that he had JFK killed?

  4. Hmmm, actually if I am gonna watch a show on a President, I’d probably pick Ronald Reagan (my fave Prez!) or Teddy Roosevelt, who was also very interesting (at least to us guys who like politics like a spectator sport). There are a few other interesting ones as well, like Andrew Jackson, or even I suppose there is something to be said about George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, etc. And we have seen a couple things recently on Lincoln already. But LBJ? Sorry, not much interest there for me.

  5. So they’ll show the scene where LBJ has to look at the bullet in Forrest Gump’s behind, right?

    Like Goldilocks, Reagan was one of my fave Presidents (my other two faves being George W Bush for his comedic value and Barack Obama because he’s the first great President of my lifetime since Reagan and shares the same values as those of us who grew up with affordable healthcare for all and a lack of gun crime, amongst other things).

    I can imagine if this gets made, it’ll air here on Sky Arts 1 like the show with Harry Shearer as Nixon did. If so, I might watch, depends how it looks.

    Oh and RIP Rik Mayall.

    • When Reagan ran successfully for the Presidency, I worked on a couple of his campaigns, and since his favorite snack was jelly-beans, our office had big mixing bowls for of jelly beans on every desk. I think everyone must’ve gained five or ten extra pounds we ate so many jelly beans in celebration of our candidate, but it must’ve worked to give us inspiration, as we got him in both times! Regretably, I never got to meet him face to face (the closest I got to him was I saw him live across a crowded shopping mall once), but he was a great and humble man who actually believed in the policies he put forth (unlike so many politicians past and present I have known), and was concerned for America and it’s citizens and ideals; just a real true-to-life old-school decent human being. When he passed on, I watched his funeral on C-Span on TV, and recalled the greatest President in my memory as tears ran down my face. Dazz, I believe you are one of our “Cousins Across The Bay” over there in England, so you are probably familiar with the fact that he was great friends with and an ally of your Prime Minister Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher. The two of them had a great respect for each other, even when on occasion they would possibly approach an issue differently. Know that we in America have alot of respect for your loyalty and support over there in Great Britain in a complicated and dangerous world!

    • “and Barack Obama because he’s the first great President of my lifetime since Reagan and shares the same values as those of us who grew up with affordable healthcare for all and a lack of gun crime, amongst other things).”

      lol. hahaha. lol. Seriously? lol.

      God I’m so glad my ancestors killed your ancestors in order for us to get away from your country.

      • Sometimes I wish Dazz was a troll, just so I could take solace in the idea that he’s just looking to get a reaction, and he really isn’t that insane. But, unfortunately, he is 100% serious. I find myself doing the epic face palm nearly every time I read one of his posts.

      • I would have to say that while I agree with the greatness of Ronald Reagan, who I really liked, and I did not mind George “W”. Bush jr. (he took a little time to grow on me; I liked his foreign policy, was not quite as big on domestic economic policy, some mistakes there), I have to disagree with Dazz about O-Bomb-a. He is the worst President IMO in my memory, and I am 56 (and not even senile, ya youngsters!)!

  6. Just a note… Angels in America was a miniseries, not a film. Anyway, this could be promising. Looking forward to hearing more about it.

    • I saw it a couple of weeks ago and, while I was impressed by Cranston’s performance, thought the pacing was a bit slow and the entire play could use some editing. His “transformation” back to himself during the curtain call gave the audience an idea of how much his posture & mannerisms conveyed those of LBJ.

  7. I like the idea. As a Cranston fan, I would like to experience the reinterpretation of the play on the silver screen.

  8. Hopefully they’ll fix one of the more egregious historical errors in the stage play and NOT portray the Republicans as a bunch of racists who blocked the Civil Rights Act of 1964, since those very same Republicans were the only reason that bill passed, and it was, wait for it, segregationist DEMOCRATS who blocked that bill, led by our ol’ buddy Robert C. Bird (who set a record for his filibuster during the debate on the bill).

    I’m not holding my breath on this, mind you, but it’d be nice for one of these flicks to be, oh, I dunno, HONEST!