In first TV series, HBO sets Sorkin in Murdoch family with world premiere in 2020

Michael McDonald in The New York Times on the new HBO series “Succession,” which has already begun its shooting schedule to depict the contours of the Murdochs’ media empire. McDonald writes:

The move by HBO on Wednesday to hire Aaron Sorkin to script a two-part limited series about the sons of Rupert Murdoch has added one element of surprise to the set-up of “Succession,” the drama series whose pilot is slated to be filmed soon in Los Angeles.

That surprise: A network that is an openly not-in-the-know in Hollywood has lured a writer who is famed for showing how power really works, who has not ventured into the world of entertainment that network drama purports to illuminate and whose show, once described as at times unflinching, has regularly traveled so far off script that its fannish admirers have nearly nicknamed him “The Righteous Brothers.”

….Rather than providing a window into a contemporary power struggle, Sorkin will instead take on the apparent dynastic winner of the 1990s for a biographical drama that will mine more closely the past than the present. Robert De Niro, the actor-producer whose name was attached to the first pilot written by “Sopranos” co-creator Alan Ball, will portray the patriarch of the Breslin-Sinclair family in the wake of a health crisis.

The show’s four leading actors – Christian Slater, Brian Cox, Kieran Culkin and Sarah Snook — are all Americans, as Sorkin’s recent work in sports and politics shows, and their characters are almost all men. One of the recurring themes of “The West Wing” and “Sports Night” was the idling in intellectual and economic roles and a desire to make more of an impact, even if only for the betterment of their descendants. Characters could seem predictable, although that was part of the entertainment for many of the series’ loyal watchers. But Sorkin’s best works work outside those bounds.

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