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TCA: Ken Burns’ Talks ‘The Roosevelts: An Intimate History’ And Whether FDR, Teddy Roosevelt Could Get Elected President In Cable News Era

By | Tuesday July 22, 2014 @ 4:17pm PDT

TCA: Ken Burns’ Talks ‘The Roosevelts: An Intimate History’ And Whether FDR, Teddy Roosevelt Could Get Elected President In Cable News EraCable news networks would not allow for Teddy Roosevelt or Franklin Delano Roosevelt to become POTUS today, the creators of PBS’ new Roosevelt family documentary suggested at TCA today. Teddy was too eccentric, and FDR was stricken with polio.

“I’m not sure they could have been president now,” Geoffrey Ward, an authority on FDR and longtime Ken Burns collaborator, told TV critics at Summer Press Tour, where they’d come to plug The Roosevelts: An Intimate History. “TR was very eccentric, and FDR was physically helpless, and in the modern world in which everything is fair game. … I think TV cameras would compete with each other to see who could get the most ‘helpless’ footage of FDR.” Ward said he doubted the U.S. will ever see another physically challenged president.

The Roosevelts TCAFDR was maybe the most press-accessible president, holding nearly 1,000 news conferences during his White House tenure, Burns and Ward said. The press “understood” they were not to write about FDR’s polio or vie for the “worst-looking Roosevelt” shot and wrote “more substantive pieces” than they might have otherwise, the producers said.

Asked why, then, they had scoured various sources to find footage of Roosevelt struggling with his polio-stricken limbs – Burns mentions spending a great deal of money after the documentary was wrapped after discovering four seconds of footage of FDR struggling to get off a train in Bismarck, ND — Burns responded, “We’ve got an obligation to do that,” because it illustrates what an effort it was for FDR to get through a day and speaks to his character. Read More »

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Olivia Williams Courted To Play Eleanor Roosevelt Role In ‘Hyde Park On The Hudson’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Olivia Williams has emerged as the front runner to play Eleanor Roosevelt the Roger Michell-directed Hyde Park on the Hudson for Focus Features. She is in talks to join her Rushmore co-star Bill Murray, who plays Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Laura Linney, who’ll play FDR’s distant cousin and mistress. The Richard Nelson-scripted film is about a visit by King George VI to Hyde Park, the upstate New York home of the Roosevelt family in 1939. While the stakes are high—momentum was building toward WWII—the trip also happened as FDR’s wife discovered his affair with his cousin. Williams, most recently seen onscreen in Hanna, is repped by ICM.

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UPDATE: Laura Linney To Play FDR’s Mistress In ‘Hyde Park On The Hudson’

Mike Fleming

UPDATE: I was slightly misinformed on Laura Linney. Am told by her camp she will play Daisy, the distant cousin of FDR (Bill Murray), whose affair with the president is revealed during the visit of the Royal Couple to the Roosevelt estate. I thought she wasn’t a good physical match for Eleanor Roosevelt and there you go. They are still casting the First Lady.

EXCLUSIVE: We’ve known since late March that Bill Murray was likely to play Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the Roger Michell-directed Hyde Park on the Hudson. Now, I’m hearing that Laura Linney is making a deal to play his wife, Eleanor Roosevelt. What a cast to provide some high drama during a visit by King George VI to Hyde Park, the upstate New York home of the Roosevelt duo. The visit took place in 1939, as momentum toward WWII was building, and also as it was becoming clear that FDR was having an affair with his cousin Daisy. The Richard Nelson script will be a hot sales title next week for Focus Features at the Cannes Film Festival. Besides her acclaimed Showtime series The Big C, Linney will next be seen in The Details, starring with Tobey Maguire and Elizabeth Banks in the Jacob Aaron Estes-directed film that premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, where it was acquired by The Weinstein Company. Linney is repped by ICM and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.

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