Showtime Pushes Back Abolitionist Miniseries ‘The Good Lord Bird’, Picks Up British Drama ‘We Hunt Together’ To Fill Slot

Showtime is moving Ethan Hawke’s The Good Lord Bird later in the year – a shift designed to put more context around the abolitionist miniseries as the focus sharpens on the issue of systemic racism in the U.S.

The Hawke drama was originally intended to premiere on August 9 but will now move its launch to October 4 in a slightly earlier slot – 9pm rather than 10pm.

The series, which is based on James McBride’s award-winning novel, is told from the point of view of Onion (Joshua Caleb Johnson), a fictional enslaved boy who becomes a member of John Brown’s motley family of abolitionist soldiers and eventually finds himself participating in the famous 1859 raid at Harpers Ferry. Brown’s raid failed to initiate the slave revolt he intended but was a key instigating event of the Civil War.

The network is understood to have consulted with the producers and other voices and is proactively taking an extra pause to consider the content carefully. It is believed that the network also wants more time to build out a marketing and PR campaign that helps educate and deepens the conversation around the issues.

Hawke co-adapted The Good Lord Bird and executive produced with Mark Richard. Albert Hughes directed and also executive produced.

At the winter TCA, Hawke said, “The genius of the novel for me is how it deals with gender and race and how we deal with the blind spots that we see.”

“We have to find ways to talk about race instead of yelling and shouting,” added McBride. “This guy [Brown] showed us how to do it.”

This comes as there are a number of moving parts to Showtime’s summer and fall schedule as seen by the furore around The Comey Rule.

It is a major boon for We Hunt Together, a relatively small UK drama that was originally commissioned by UKTV network Alibi.

Created by Gaby Hull, who wrote ITV and Sundance series Cheat, the series is only the channel’s second original drama after it moved into scripted commissioning. Produced by BBC Studios, the six-episode drama is a cat-and-mouse thriller that begins with the collision of two people; Babeni, a former child soldier desperate to suppress his predisposition for violence, and Freddy, a magnetic and disarmingly charming free spirit.

When Baba rescues Freddy from an attack following a date that has turned sour, something dark is ignited in them both. It also follows DI Lola Franks and DCI Jackson Reid as they try to outsmart the killers, despite their polar opposite outlooks on the culpability of the criminal mind.

It stars Eve Myles (Torchwood), Babou Ceesay (Guerrilla), Hermione Corfield (Star Wars: The Last Jedi) and Dipo Ola (Baghdad Central). It is directed by Carl Tibbetts and was exec produced by Hilary Salmon, Anne Pivcevic and Esther Springer.

The show will launch on Sunday August 9 at 10pm.

Elsewhere, Showtime has also revealed premiere dates for a number of non-fiction projects. The Comedy Store (w/t), which is a five-part doc series that chronicles the evolution of comedy from within the walls of the iconic L.A. club, will premiere on Sunday, October 4 at 10 pm. Four-part series The Reagans, from director Matt Tyrnauer, will premiere Sunday, November 15 at 8 pm, while R.J. Cutler’s feature documentary Belushi will launch on Sunday, November 22 at 9 pm.

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