Hollywood star Michael Douglas will star as US founding father Benjamin Franklin in a new limited series. The yet-untitled series is based on the book A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America by Pulitzer Prize winner Stacy Schiff. Kirk Ellis, the writer behind John Adams series, will write the show for Apple and serve as an executive producer.
Emmy-winning director Tim Van Patten will direct and executive produce. Douglas will executive produce in addition to starring. Richard Plepler will executive produce via EDEN Productions, which is currently under an overall deal at Apple. Tony Krantz of Flame Ventures and Mark Mostyn also executive produce, with Schiff co-executive producing. Apple Studios and ITV Studios will co-produce.
The series will explore the story of one of the greatest gambles of Franklin’s career. At age 70, without any diplomatic training, Franklin convinced France - an absolute monarchy - to underwrite America’s experiment in democracy. By virtue of his fame, charisma, and ingenuity, Franklin outmanoeuvred British spies, French informers, and hostile colleagues, all while engineering the Franco-American alliance of 1778 and the final peace with England of l783.
The eight-year French mission stands as Franklin’s most vital service to his country, without which America would not have won the Revolution. Douglas most recently starred in the Netflix series The Kominsky Method, which aired its third and final season on the streamer in 2021. His starring role in the series earned him a Golden Globe in 2019 and three consecutive Emmy nominations for best actor in a comedy series. Douglas is primarily known for his film roles.
He won the Oscar for best actor for his iconic role in Wall Street in 1988, with Douglas reprising the role of Gordon Gekko in Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps in 2010.