Michael Douglas to Play Benjamin Franklin in Apple TV+ Series From ‘John Adams’ Creator

    Michael Douglas is sticking with TV. Douglas will play Benjamin Franklin in a limited series penned by John Adams creator Kirk Ellis, Apple TV+ announced Monday.

    The period drama is based on A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America by Pulitzer Prize winner Stacy Schiff. As the title implies, the show will document Franklin’s time living in France. ITV Studios America and Apple Studios are joining forces to produce.

    “The drama will explore the thrilling story of one of the greatest gambles of Benjamin Franklin’s career,” a statement describing the series said. “At age 70, without any diplomatic training, Franklin convinced France — an absolute monarchy — to underwrite America’s experiment in democracy.”

    The series will take a deep dive into Franklin’s influence on the outcome of the American Revolutionary War.

    “By virtue of his fame, charisma and ingenuity, Franklin outmaneuvered British spies, French informers and hostile colleagues, all while engineering the Franco-American alliance of 1778 and the final peace treaty with England of 1783,” the description continued. “The eight-year French mission stands as Franklin’s most vital service to his country, without which America would not have won the Revolution.”

    The Kominsky Method star previously voiced Franklin in Freedom: A History of US on PBS in 2003. The so far unnamed Apple TV+ series will be Douglas’ second period drama depicting an American political figure — he’s also set to play President Ronald Reagan against Christoph Waltz‘s Mikhail Gorbachev in a limited series for Paramount TV Studios.

    Ellis will write and executive produce the series. He previously developed the Paul Giamatti-led John Adams for HBO. The limited series won 13 Emmys. Tim Van Patten (The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire) will direct.

    Douglas and Van Patten will also executive produce, along with Richard Plepler through EDEN Productions, Tony Krantz through Flame Ventures, and Mark Mostyn. Schiff will co-executive produce.

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