Star Ciaran Hinds is elected with US show Political Animals
It's the new political drama starring a Northern Irish actor which has Washington buzzing, with a storyline that is set to make uncomfortable viewing within the Clinton household: Sigourney Weaver in the role of a former first lady to a philandering President who accepts the post of Secretary of State when her own leadership ambitions are foiled.
Indeed, comparisons between the scenario of Political Animals, a series which will launch on the USA Network in July, and the real-life dramas which provided the backdrop to Bill and Hillary Clinton's tempestuous marriage appear unavoidable.
To be fair to the writers, they have made some attempt to fictionalise their story. In Political Animals, the first lady, Elaine Barrish, is newly divorced from former President Bud Hammond — Belfast-born Ciaran Hinds — who still pines for his ex-wife, and the power he once wielded.
Appointed Secretary of State by President Paul Garcetti (Adrian Pasdar), who defeated Barrish in a fiercely contested Presidential primary race, she struggles to balance her relationship with her twin sons and former husband, while dealing with crises in the State Department. She also has to deal with a scheming Vice-President and “a hungry DC journalist bent on destroying her career”.
Political Animals was created by Greg Berlanti, producer of the family drama series Brothers & Sisters and Laurence Mark, whose credits include the Tom Cruise film Jerry Maguire. Linda Powell, the daughter of former Secretary of State Colin Powell, will appear in the first episode of the new show as the national security adviser to the President.
This year's Presidential election has prompted a wave of drama and comedy series with a White House theme. But it is the dysfunctional behaviour of those who seek office, in contrast to the idealistic politicos who populated NBC's long-running hit The West Wing, which is fuelling the craze.
HBO has ordered a second series of Veep, the series about a largely powerless and neurotic Vice-President, starring Seinfeld actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
Domestic conflict between a First Family living in The White House is the theme of 1600 Penn starring Bill Pullman, NBC's latest attempt at a political ratings hit. It is produced by Jon Lovett, President Obama's former speech-writer.