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Trust - March 25th, FX (Kidnaping of John Paul Getty III)
Cast:
Donald Sutherland as J. Paul Getty
Hilary Swank as Gail Getty
Harris Dickinson as John Paul Getty III
Brendan Fraser as James Fletcher Chace
Michael Esper as John Paul Getty Jr.
 

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"The Looming Tower" on Hulu, a fictionalized adaptation of Lawrence Wright's acclaimed book about the events and factors that led to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Ep 1-3 now streaming on Hulu.


NYT Review:
When recent history gets turned into television drama, there's usually a book involved. The budgets for current series about the Waco siege, the killing of Gianni Versace and the unsolved murders of Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G. all include the rights to a nonfiction tome, or several.

The same is true - and how - of "The Looming Tower," the new 10-episode mini-series on Hulu. The show didn't get made only because of the events it covers, now nearly 17 years in the past. It got made because of the book itself: Lawrence Wright's definitive and mesmerizing "The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11," the best seller and Pulitzer Prize winner published in 2006.


Sales and prizes, though, are no guarantee that a book will make it to the screen with its spirit intact. Neither, apparently, is the involvement of the author. (Mr. Wright, who had already used the work as the basis of a one-man stage show, gets writing and producing credits on the series.)


By reputation, the book is about the failure of America's intelligence and law enforcement agencies to stop the Sept. 11 attacks. And that story - the head-smacking inability of the C.I.A. and F.B.I. to share information and put together an abundance of clues - is there.


But about 80 percent of Mr. Wright's text didn't involve Americans. It was about, and told from the point of view of, Middle Easterners - not just Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda colleague Ayman al-Zawahri, but a legion of jihadists, politicians, rulers, clerics, teachers, wives and daughters. It largely traced not how America failed but how and why a small group of Islamists succeeded, starting with why they hated America so much.


Based on the first three episodes of "The Looming Tower" (which begin streaming on Wednesday), Mr. Wright, working with the writer Dan Futterman and the director Alex Gibney, has reduced the story to that other 20 percent.


The result is a crisp, quickly paced and essentially ordinary crime procedural, with a surprising amount of fictionalization for dramatic effect and narrative convenience. The show reverses the balance of perspective from the book: A pair of F.B.I. agents, John O'Neill (Jeff Daniels) and Ali Soufan (Tahar Rahim), replace bin Laden and Zawahri as the central characters, and the point of view is firmly American.


The series opens with a standard espionage thriller scene, the clandestine daisy-chain transport of a computer hard drive, that doesn't appear in the book, where Mr. Wright is matter-of-fact in his descriptions of spycraft. Other inventions are more problematic. A hookup between an F.B.I. agent and an American diplomat (both fictitious) is thrown in just to squeeze some tears. And a heroic act that in real life was performed by a dying Kenyan, during the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, is shifted to a dying American.


Cutting out 50 years of the story and most of the cast of characters (the book begins in the 1940s with the Egyptian writer Sayyid Qutb; the show skips decades of Arab history and opens in 1998) allows more time for fiction-friendly details. In the book, Mr. Wright gives a few pages to the Mr. O'Neill's byzantine romantic life, as a counterpoint to Islamist attitudes toward women and sex. This gets a fuller, but (so far) less relevant treatment on screen.


"The Looming Tower" is not alone in favoring a detective story over ideas and import. "Manhunt: Unabomber," "Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G." and "Waco," to cite current or recent examples, all do it to some degree. (Though Paramount Network's "Waco" has gained depth in its later episodes, with the Branch Davidians captive inside their compound.)


"The Looming Tower" does benefit from good performances, including those of Mr. Rahim, Peter Sarsgaard as a querulous C.I.A. agent (seemingly based on the real-life Michael Scheuer) and Bill Camp as an F.B.I. gumshoe (a composite of New York-based agents). Mr. Daniels is fun to watch, but his Midwestern affability and natural courtliness don't match up at all with the book's description of O'Neill. (He's also 15-plus years older than O'Neill was at the time.)


In 2018, "The Looming Tower" sits in an odd place. So much has happened since the events it depicts that it feels like ancient history. But so much has happened - and continues to happen - precisely because of the events it depicts, that the book now feels unequal to its task. Perhaps turning it into a sentimental cop show was the only sensible approach.
 

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Hard Sun (Hulu)
Stream all episodes on Hulu March 7.
Two detectives with opposing viewpoints are forced to work together in a pre-apocalyptic criminal world. Hard Sun comes from Neil Cross, creator of Luther.
Jim Sturgess and Agyness Deyn play detectives Robert Hicks and Elaine Renko, partners and enemies, who seek to enforce the law and protect their loved ones in a world that every day slips closer to a world-ending natural disaster. Hicks is a family man and a great, committed officer. He's also profoundly corrupt. Renko is a difficult and damaged, but utterly incorruptible officer. Thus, the two cops stand on different ends of the social and moral spectrum and also seriously distrust one other - and for good reason. But they must somehow learn to work together if they're going to survive until the end of the world.

 

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I did a search but didn't see it here. The Rookie with Nathan Fillion. ABC Fall. Police procedural, listed as crime drama. Based on a true story. Promo during NBA Playoff tonight.

I can't believe how early the fall promos are starting this year. When I was still in broadcasting, you usually didn't see the new show promos until after July 4.
He "guested" on a number of ABC shows recently also. ABC is pushing this one hard.
 

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"One of the first questions HBO asked me was to make sure that the series would be spoken in a strong Neapolitan dialect," recalls Costanzo. "That really struck me: I asked why an American network should care about the accuracy of a language if their audiences would be watching the series with subtitles. They replied that they wanted the series to be authentic. There, in that moment I understood why HBO is HBO."
 
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