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"The Comey Rule": A new TV series about the Comey cause tears open old wounds

2020-09-27T15:00:02.376Z

A new US series traces the scandal surrounding Trump and the then FBI boss Comey. The top-class TV production is tearing open old wounds - a few weeks before the elections.



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Uncomfortable Dinner: Jeff Daniels and Brendan Gleeson in "The Comey Rule"

Photo: Ben Mark Holzberg / CBS / Sky

There are offers that cannot be turned down.

Jeff Daniels spent most of the past year on a New York Broadway stage.

As the star of the drama "To Kill a Mockingbird" he appeared eight times a week.

After this show of strength, he says, he would have liked to have spent "two months horizontally".

But the Hollywood veteran would have had to forego the role of his life: Daniels ("The Newsroom") was back in front of the camera nine days later - as James Comey, the former FBI chief who was shot by Donald Trump in 2017 because he had overseen the Russia investigation.

"It was like after a marathon," remembers Daniels, 65, in a video interview of the filming of the new TV series "The Comey Rule", which dramatizes those events.

"Someone gives you a glass of water and says: Come on, run again. But it was important. It was risky. It was a challenge. You don't let that go."

The Comey cause continues to divide Americans deeply.

Because the stoic FBI director appointed by Trump's predecessor Barack Obama was involved in the 2016 presidential election, he is still a red rag for both sides.

For Trump and the Republicans, because they dismiss the Russian scandal as a left-wing invention that should harm them.

For the Democrats, because they believe Comey's behavior contributed to Hillary Clinton's electoral defeat.

In doing so, Comey, as he writes in his memoir "Greater than the Office", wanted to please everyone - and in the end he only made everyone an enemy.

"The Comey Rule" condenses this national as well as private trauma into four hours of television that are unlikely to open healed wounds.

The US broadcaster Showtime will broadcast the $ 40 million production in two episodes on September 27th and 28th.

In Germany she can be seen on Sky on November 2nd - on the eve of the US election.

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Tragic Heroes: Holly Hunter and Jeff Daniels in "The Comey Rule"

Photo: Ben Mark Holzberg / CBS / Sky

Has it really been four years?

Trump fired Comey in May 2017, a shocking event at the time.

But so much has happened since then, so much that is even more shocking.

In view of Trump's attacks today, the Comey affair seems like a chamber play that marked the beginning of the end.

The series traces the decline of US democracy as a TV crime thriller - and reveals how quickly the crash happened.

Comey's dismissal led to the appointment of Russian investigator Robert Mueller (played Peter Coyote in an Emmy-worthy moment on the series), but his report was almost 500 pages long and was successfully sabotaged by Trump's henchmen.

Even from the many congressional hearings, only a fog of confusion remained.

The impeachment acquittal has made Trump unassailable since then, at least until November.

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Fired Unworthily: The Real James Comey (2018)

Photo: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

"We wanted to tell a story that was moving and emotional and gripping and horrific and hopeful at the same time," says screenwriter Billy Ray, a specialist in docu-dramas ("Richard Jewell", "Captain Phillips").

"But we also wanted to tell the truth."

"The current government makes 'House of Cards' almost irrelevant."

Michael Kelly

The series condenses the question of Trump's legitimacy into a telegenic duel between two super-egos.

Comey's opponent Trump is played by the Irish character actor Brendan Gleeson ("Harry Potter"), flanked by a top-class cast, above all Oscar winner Holly Hunter as Vice Minister of Justice Sally Yates.

Neither Daniels nor Gleeson go for "Saturday Night Live" caricatures.

Daniels wears platform shoes (Comey is 2.03 meters tall).

Gleeson only hints at Trump, with a cotton candy wig, rather moderate make-up and a sonorous bass, threatening and ridiculous at the same time.

Everything happens that kept you in suspense during those months: the pseudoscandal surrounding Clinton's emails.

Russia's election rigging.

Trump's Moscow connections.

Comey's delusion, disguised as tragic heroism.

His crude discharge, followed by that of his FBI vassals.

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Machinations and manipulations: Brendan Gleeson as Trump in "The Comey Rule"

Photo: Ben Mark Holzberg / CBS / Sky

Of the real actors portrayed here, only one is still in office - Trump.

And since then he has only acted more shamelessly.

"The current government makes 'House of Cards' almost irrelevant," Michael Kelly told SPIEGEL.

"As if they wanted to surpass our craziness."

He played the chief of staff of a corrupt president in the previous hit series and is now Comey's tormented deputy and successor Andrew McCabe.

The plot of "The Comey Rule" is closely related to Comey's memoir.

This is not necessarily an advantage: all sides can see themselves confirmed here, whether friend or foe.

But the pathosmonologists on patriotism, decency and the rule of law that Daniels holds in Comey's name come from him almost verbatim.

They are complacent and naive - especially when you realize the disaster he has caused with his stubbornness.

The ex-FBI chief hesitated to have his book filmed.

"Mainly because of his family," says Ray.

"They didn't want to go through it again."

Wife Patrice (Jennifer Ehle) was one of the few who suspected the disaster.

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Worse than "House of Cards": Michael Kelly in "The Comey Rule"

Photo: Ben Mark Holzberg / CBS / Sky

Comey personally followed a key scene on set - the dinner at which Trump demanded "loyalty" from him.

The eight minutes took an entire day of shooting and turned into an oppressive mini-thriller.

"It was really important to us that the Americans

see

that

before

the elections," says Ray.

But ViacomCBS, the parent company of Showtime, initially planned the series for the end of November, weeks after the election, if it had gone under.

ViacomCBS boss Shari Redstone and Trump are on friendly terms, but the media giant is also responsible for works critical of Trump, such as the memoirs of Trump's niece Mary Trump and Bob Woodward's new scandal book "Rage", both at the publishing subsidiary Simon & Shoemaker appeared.

It was only after screenwriter Ray complained about the broadcast date in a letter that ViacomCBS moved the premiere forward to the end of September.

The series is likely to trigger PTSD among the US Democrats, so sharply crystallizes Trump's machinations and manipulations.

But can it make a difference?

If even Woodward's revelations about Trump's corona lies change nothing?

"The show tells people about things they didn't know before," says Daniels, a committed left-wing liberal.

Even he only noticed after the shoot, when he saw the end result: "Oh God, that was just the beginning."

Icon: The mirror

Source: spiegel

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