Ben Stiller To Helm Film Adaptation of Maddow’s Bag Man
While already keeping his dance card full of small-screen projects, Ben Stiller (Escape at Dannemora) has eyed another new project to step into the director’s chair on the big screen with a feature adaptation of Rachel Maddow’s podcast Bag Man, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Based on Maddow’s 2018 podcast, the story centers on Spiro T. Agnew, the VP to former President of the United States Richard Nixon, and the bribery and extortion ring he ran during his time in office and was investigated for by the US Attorney for the District of Maryland in 1973, during the height of the Watergate scandal. The podcast was recently translated into a novel, whose logline reads as follows:
Is it possible for a sitting vice president to direct a vast criminal enterprise within the halls of the White House? To have one of the most brazen corruption scandals in American history play out while nobody’s paying attention? And for that scandal to be all but forgotten decades later? The year was 1973, and Spiro T. Agnew, the former governor of Maryland, was Richard Nixon’s second-in-command. Long on firebrand rhetoric and short on political experience, Agnew had carried out a bribery and extortion ring in office for years, when—at the height of Watergate—three young federal prosecutors discovered his crimes and launched a mission to take him down before it was too late, before Nixon’s impending downfall elevated Agnew to the presidency. The self-described “counterpuncher” vice president did everything he could to bury their investigation: dismissing it as a “witch hunt,” riling up his partisan base, making the press the enemy, and, with a crumbling circle of loyalists, scheming to obstruct justice in order to survive. In this blockbuster account, Rachel Maddow and Michael Yarvitz detail the investigation that exposed Agnew’s crimes, the attempts at a cover-up—which involved future president George H. W. Bush—and the backroom bargain that forced Agnew’s resignation but also spared him years in federal prison. Based on the award-winning hit podcast, Bag Man expands and deepens the story of Spiro Agnew’s scandal and its lasting influence on our politics, our media, and our understanding of what it takes to confront a criminal in the White House.
Stiller is set to direct the project and is co-writing the script with Adam Perlman and Mike Yarvitz, the latter of whom acted as executive producer on the MSNBC-produced podcast and co-wrote its novelization. Stiller and Yarvitz are also set to produce the film alongside Lorne Michaels and Josh McLaughlin, while Maddow will serve as executive producer alongside Nicky Weinstock, Michael Price, Erin David and Andrew Singer.
The film is currently being developed by Focus Features.
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