Michael Douglas To Play Benjamin Franklin In Apple TV+ Limited Series

Michael Douglas is the latest big name to be snapped up for an Apple TV+ project. The legendary actor has signed on to play one of America’s founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, in a limited series. The project is based on Pulitzer Prize winner Stacey Schiff‘s book A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America.

Schiff’s book chronicles Franklin’s arrival in France and his risky attempt to engage in the biggest gamble of his career: using his charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent to outmaneuver a horde of enemies into agreeing to forge an alliance in 1783 that made America’s victory in the Revolution possible.

Along with Schiff’s extensive research, the series also boasts serious historical experience behind the camera, as it’s being created and adapted by Kirk Ellis, who previously wrote Sons Of Liberty and HBO’s John Adams – another story of a founding father which garnered immense critical acclaim, winning in thirteen Emmy categories, the only miniseries ever to do so.

Tim Van Patten will direct the Franklin series. He’s also a two-time Emmy winner, having secured trophies for directing episodes of The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire. He’s also previously worked on The Wire, Black Mirror, Game Of Thrones, and The Pacific.

There’s enough star power in front of the camera and incredible prestige behind it to make it easy to understand why Apple was drawn to this project. If done right, this is the kind of series that usually cleans up at awards shows, just as Ellis’ John Adams did.

With Apple aiming for prestige by consistently securing big names for projects, obviously acclaim and awards success matters to them, as it legitimizes them in the streaming wars. It’s a similar strategy Netflix began with, before shifting to attempting to cover every demographic with their mountains of content.

Speaking of Netflix, Douglas recently starred in Chuck Lorre‘s sitcom The Kominsky Method for the rival streamer, which recently concluded. He also voices the main role in another Netflix show: animated Dr. Seuss series Green Eggs and Ham. Douglas’ last on-screen film roles have been MCU projects, and he’s currently filming the upcoming Ant-Man threequel.

There’s no other information available about the Franklin series yet, including a title. But it will no doubt be a priority series for Apple, and one that history buffs are bound to devour once it arrives.


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