Gaslit, a Watergate drama series based on the Slow Burn podcast, has found a home at Starz. Julia Roberts and Sean Penn are set to star in the series, which has gone through a few changes in the last few months. At one point, Joel Edgerton was set to star and direct – but Edgerton is no longer involved. Armie Hammer was also originally part of the cast, but he’s since dropped out. The series is described as “a modern take” on the Watergate scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon.
News of the show first broke last February, and now Deadline has some updates. Joel Edgerton, who was set to appear in the series and direct, is gone – and so is his brother Nash Edgerton, who was going to executive produce. Now, Matt Ross is helming the show and executive producing. Also gone is Armie Hammer, who was going to appear in the show but who has since left. Hammer would’ve played White House Counsel John Dean, while Edgerton was set to play G. Gordon Liddy. Both roles will now be recast.
Still on board are Julia Roberts and Sean Penn. Penn is playing John Mitchell, who was Nixon’s attorney general. Roberts will play his wife, Martha Mitchell. As Deadline explains, Martha becomes “the first person to publicly sound the alarm on Nixon’s involvement in Watergate, causing both the presidency and her personal life to unravel. As Attorney General, Mitchell is Nixon’s most trusted adviser and best friend. Temperamental, foulmouthed, and ruthless – yet hopelessly in love with his famously outspoken wife – he’ll be forced to choose between Martha and the president.”
Gaslit is inspired by the excellent Slow Burn podcast, and while the Martha Mitchell story kicks things off, there’s a lot more going on. Most people have the general details about Watergate committed to memory, but Slow Burn was very good at focusing in on behind-the-scenes details that have fallen by the wayside. As the official podcast synopsis states, “You think you know the story, or maybe you don’t. But Watergate was stranger, wilder, and more exciting than you can imagine. What did it feel like to live through the scandal that brought down President Nixon? Find out on this eight-episode podcast miniseries hosted by Leon Neyfakh.”
Robbie Pickering will serve as showrunner on Gaslit, while Sam Esmail, who produced Homecoming, another Julia Roberts series based on a podcast, is producing. “I’m so happy to have the opportunity to share the heartbreaking, fascinating story of Martha Mitchell with the world,” Pickering said. “Martha was the first and loudest voice to speak out against the bumbling criminality of a crooked presidential administration, and she was one of the most complicated public martyrs of the era. To find anyone willing to tell her story is a dream. To be making it with Sam, Julia, Sean, Matt, UCP, and Starz seems impossible. I’m over the moon.”
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