A new original drama is coming to National Geographic Channel, the network announced today that Tim Matheson (“The West Wing,” “Burn Notice,” “Animal House”) will star as the former president in the network’s two-hour scripted movie Killing Reagan.
Matheson will be joined by Cynthia Nixon (“Sex and the City,” Tony Award for “Rabbit Hole”) as first lady Nancy Reagan. The director will be Rod Lurie (“The Contender”), the script was written by Eric Simonson, an Academy Award winner for Best Documentary, Short Subject.
“With this fourth installment of the highly successful Killing franchise, we are, along with our partners, Bill O’Reilly and Scott Free Productions, going to use the assassination attempt as a crucible to tell the fascinating and compelling story of Ronald Reagan and his lasting impact on the global stage,” said Carolyn Bernstein, NGC executive vice president and head of global scripted development and production. “We’re delighted to have Tim and Cynthia on board to bring this story to life during an unpredictable and historic election year.”
“Even nearly 30 years after his presidency, and more than 10 years after his death, Ronald Reagan’s mark on American politics and the global geopolitical landscape, through both his actions and his policies, still reverberates today,” said Bill O’Reilly. “There is much that can be learned by looking back at that riveting period in history.”
Tim Matheson played Vice President John Hoynes in the Emmy-winning series “The West Wing.” Matheson is most well-known for his role as Otter in the comedy classic “Animal House.”
This is actually Matheson’s second time portraying the Gipper on film, having played the role in the 2011 unproduced pilot “The Talker,” in which he played the ghost of the former president.
Tony-, Grammy-, Emmy- and SAG Award-winning actress Cynthia Nixon is best known for her role as Miranda Hobbs in “Sex and the City” on both TV and film — a role that earned her four Golden Globe nominations. She has also recently appeared in the critically acclaimed TV series “Hannibal,” “The Big C” and “The Affair,” and will next be seen as Emily Dickinson in Terence Davies’ film “A Quiet Passion.”
Rod Lurie is known for his feature film “The Contender,” starring Joan Allen, in 2000. He later created the ABC drama “Line of Fire” and the critically acclaimed USA series “Commander in Chief,” which received a 2006 Golden Globe nomination for Best Television Series – Drama.
That series earned its star, Geena Davis, a Golden Globe award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama. Screenwriter Eric Simonson has a career marked by success in writing and directing film and documentary shorts. He won a 2006 Academy Award for “A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin” in the category of Best Documentary, Short Subject, and has twice been nominated for a News & Documentary Emmy Award for his work in long form.
Killing Reagan will be the fourth in a successful partnership between NGC, Scott Free Productions and Bill O’Reilly, with the previous three collaborations, Killing Lincoln, Killing Kennedy and Killing Jesus, serving as the network’s three most-watched programs of all time and earning multiple Emmy nominations. The movie is the first in a steady stream of scripted programming the network will put into production in the coming months, including the just-announced Ron Howard-produced scripted series Genius, signifying the network’s ongoing commitment to the genre.
Based on O’Reilly’s fourth No. 1 best-selling book, Killing Reagan takes a different approach than its predecessors, exploring how the attempted assassination on the newly elected president impacted his time in office. From the final, hotly contested months leading up to his 1980 election, the movie explores Reagan’s journey to the nation’s highest office and the challenges he faced to define himself as a leader. During this time, the mental health and obsessive tendencies of his would-be assassin, John Hinckley, unravel — leading up to that fateful day in 1981. The story is told in the same riveting fashion that has made best-sellers of O’Reilly’s first four books, and must-see hits of NGC’s movie adaptations. It will premiere on National Geographic Channel in the U.S. this fall, and around the world early next year in 170 countries and 45 languages.
Killing Reagan will be produced for National Geographic Channels by Scott Free Productions. For Scott Free, Ridley Scott. David W. Zucker and Mary Lisio are executive producers, and Clayton Krueger is co-Executive Producer. Bill O’Reilly is also executive producer. For National Geographic Channels, Carolyn G. Bernstein is executive vice president and head of global scripted development and production.