Showtime confirmed that Oscar and Emmy nominee and Golden Globe winner Michelle Pfeiffer would star as Betty Ford in the anthology series “The First Lady.” The network also announced that Oscar, Emmy, and Golden Globe winner Susanne Bier would direct and executive produce the project, which also stars and is executive produced by Oscar, Emmy and Tony winner Viola Davis, who will play former first lady Michelle Obama.
The description reads, “The First Lady is a revelatory reframing of American leadership, told through the lens of the women at the heart of the White House.”
Produced by Showtime and Lionsgate Television, the series is executive produced by Oscar-winner Cathy Schulman, Viola Davis, Julius Tennon, Andrew Wang, Jeff Gaspin, and Brad Kaplan, and created by author Aaron Cooley, who will write several of the episodes and executive produce. The announcement was made by Amy Israel, Executive Vice President, Scripted Programming, Showtime Networks Inc.
The network added, “In the East Wing of the White House, many of history’s most impactful and world-changing decisions have been hidden from view, made by America’s charismatic, complex and dynamic First Ladies. This series will peel back the curtain on the personal and political lives of three unique, enigmatic women, tracing their journeys to Washington through an enlightening intimacy, with season one focusing on Michelle Obama, Betty Ford, and Eleanor Roosevelt.”
“Michelle Pfeiffer and Susanne Bier have joined the brilliant and incomparable Viola Davis to bring the remarkable stories of these women into urgent, engrossing, and long overdue focus,” said Israel. “Michelle brings authenticity, vulnerability, and complexity to all her roles, and Susanne is a visionary director who commands the screen with fierce honesty and a singular visual style. With these formidable artists in front of and behind the camera, we couldn’t be more thrilled – especially at this unique moment in time for our nation – about the powerful promise of The First Lady.”
Schulman’s company Welle Entertainment is dedicated to making female-facing content. Schulman and Gaspin read a spec script Cooley had written about First Lady Edith Wilson, and that inspired them to re-examine the families in the White House through the eyes of the First Ladies. “The First Lady” is executive produced by Cathy Schuman via Welle Entertainment, Viola Davis, Julius Tennon, and Andrew Wang via JuVee Productions, Jeff Gaspin via Gaspin Media, Brad Kaplan via LINK Entertainment, Aaron Cooley, and Susanne Bier.