Trump-Comey Mini-Series Will Air Before Election Day

ViacomCBS has reversed course.

Days after announcing that its television adaptation of “A Higher Loyalty,” the best-selling book by the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey, would appear after the election, the company has moved the broadcast to September.

The scheduling change came two days after the director, Billy Ray, sent an email to cast members expressing disappointment that the mini-series had been scheduled to broadcast in late November on the ViacomCBS cable network Showtime. In the email, which was reviewed by The New York Times, the director said he had completed the project in the spring with the expectation that it would air before Election Day, Nov. 3.

The two-part, four-hour program, “The Comey Rule,” was adapted by Mr. Ray, the screenwriter of “Shattered Glass,” “Captain Phillips” and “Richard Jewell.” It stars Jeff Daniels as Mr. Comey, who served as the F.B.I. director from 2013 until the president abruptly fired him in May 2017. Mr. Trump is played by Brendan Gleeson, the actor perhaps best known for his portrayal of Alastor (Mad-Eye) Moody in the Harry Potter movies.

Showtime said in a statement on Wednesday that the mini-series would air on consecutive nights, Sept. 27 and Sept. 28.

“A Higher Loyalty” was an instant blockbuster when it was published in April 2018, selling 600,000 copies in all formats its first week. In its pages Mr. Comey likens Mr. Trump to a crime boss and calls him “unethical, and untethered to truth.” Mr. Trump attacked the book and its author, calling him an “untruthful slime ball” in a tweet.

At the time of his firing three years ago, Mr. Comey was the top official leading a criminal investigation into whether Mr. Trump’s advisers had colluded with the Russian government to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.

CBS was among the hundreds of organizations and people that have been the target of attacks by Mr. Trump during his term in office. In a 2018 tweet, the president included CBS reporters among the “fakers” who have “done so much dishonest reporting that they should only be allowed to get awards for fiction!”

Previous attempts by Hollywood to build shows around political figures have not gone according to plan. In 2013, NBC scrapped a mini-series that would have starred Diane Lane as Hillary Clinton before it was filmed.

More recently, the third season of Ryan Murphy’s FX series “American Crime Story: Impeachment” — with a focus on former President Bill Clinton, and with Monica Lewinsky as a producer — was scheduled to make its debut on Sept. 27. FX ended up postponing the release until well after the election, citing Mr. Murphy’s busy schedule.

Mr. Comey was a critic of ViacomCBS’s now-scrapped plan to show “The Comey Rule” after the election, saying in a statement to The Times on Tuesday, “I don’t understand why CBS would sit on a movie about important current events, and I hope the American people get the chance to see it soon.”

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