Bill Clinton and James Patterson Book Rights Land at Showtime

“The President is Missing” will mark the first time an American President has co-penned a thriller.
By  · Published on September 22nd, 2017

Fast-tracked to an onscreen adaptation, “The President is Missing” will mark the first time an American President has co-penned a thriller.

Just last week, it was announced that a six-episode drama surrounding Bill Clinton‘s impeachment was in development. Today, another project related to the former President has been greenlit. The rights to a book co-written by Clinton and renowned mystery thriller author James Patterson have been bought by Showtime.

The fiction book, titled “The President is Missing,” is apparently exactly what it says on the tin: a sitting President disappears and a thriller unfolds from such an event. The novel itself isn’t even out yet — it’s slated for a 2018 release — so no other plot details are available. But it’s apparent that many networks have been fighting tooth and nail for the rights regardless. Showtime president and CEO David Nevins calls it “a coup of the highest order”:

“The pairing of President Clinton with fiction’s most gripping storyteller promises a kinetic experience, one that the book world has salivated over for months and that now will dovetail perfectly into a politically relevant, character-based action series for our network.”

There is an obvious intrigue of having Clinton contribute specific insights to characterization and plot in a political thriller. However, what those insights may remain elusive, as expected. Patterson does praise Clinton as a co-writer, albeit doing so in the vaguest way possible: “The White House is such an exciting world to explore and is made even more so with the unique insights of a former President.”

“The President is Missing” also has something else going for it: it won’t be about Clinton himself. This furthers a notion of novelty to some extent. It would at least provide a very different perspective from the renaissance of Clinton scandal content that television just can’t get enough of at the moment while banking on the ubiquity of his name.

Honestly, whether it’s good, bad or plain mediocre, depicting the American presidency onscreen brings about a certain brand of drama that many enjoy tapping into. From The West Wing‘s optimism to House of Cards‘ pessimism — not to mention that one year two thrillers about kidnapped presidents/presidents on the run made their way to big screens everywhere — you’d think the media has been saturated, to say the least. But still, people regularly come back for more and will likely do the same with this show. We’ll just have to take Patterson at his word that, “Rich storytelling opportunities for this series abound.”

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Sheryl Oh often finds herself fascinated (and let's be real, a little obsessed) with actors and their onscreen accomplishments, developing Film School Rejects' Filmographies column as a passion project. She's not very good at Twitter but find her at @sherhorowitz anyway. (She/Her)