Michael Douglas will portray the role of Benjamin Franklin in an upcoming limited series from Apple TV Plus. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Oscar-winning actor will also executive produce the show with Kirk Ellis, Tim Van Patten, Richard Plepler, Tony Krantz and Mark Mostyn.
The project comes from Ellis and Patten, who have penned and directed the series, respectively. Based on Pulitzer Prize winner Stacy Schiff’s book A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America, the drama will explore the thrilling story of one of the greatest gambles of Franklin’s career.
A drafter and signer of the U S Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, a group of American revolutionary leaders who united the Thirteen Colonies, led the war for independence from Great Britain, and built a frame of government for the new United States of America.
At age 70, without any diplomatic training, Franklin convinced France – an absolute monarchy – to underwrite America’s experiment in democracy. “By virtue of his fame, charisma, and ingenuity, Franklin outmaneuvered British spies, French informers, and hostile colleagues, all while engineering the Franco-American alliance of 1778 and the final peace with England of 1783. The eight-year French mission stands as Franklin’s most vital service to his country, without which America would not have won the Revolution,” reads the plot’s synopsis.
The series is a co-production between ITV Studios America and Apple Studios. Stacy Schiff will serve as co-executive producer. The project has been casting for the past couple of months.
This is Kirk Ellis’ third project on Franklin, following the HBO miniseries John Adams, in which the personality was played by Tom Wilkinson, and History’s Sons of Liberty, in which he was played by Dean Norris.
Multihyphenate Orson Welles also essayed the role of Franklin in the 1954 film Royal Affairs in Versailles and 1961’s La Fayette, both French Italian productions.
Michael Douglas is also attached to play another famous figure in U S history, President Ronald Reagan in “Reagan & Gorbachev”, a limited series in the works at Paramount TV Studios.