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Viola Davis to Play Michelle Obama in ‘First Ladies’ Anthology for Showtime

By Lesley Goldberg

August 26, 2019

Viola Davis would play Michelle Obama in a Showtime anthology called “First Ladies.”

The ‘How to Get Away With Murder’ star will also exec produce the drama, which is in development from Lionsgate TV.

Showtime is ready to tell the stories of Washington, D.C.’s first ladies.

The premium cable network is teaming with Viola Davis to star in and exec produce anthology First Ladies. Davis and husband and producing partner Julius Tennon’s JuVee Productions is teaming with Lionsgate for the drama series, which is currently in development with an order for three scripts at the premium cable network.

The anthology focuses on the personal and political lives of the country’s most enigmatic heroes, with season one focused on Eleanor Roosevelt, Betty Ford and Michelle Obama. In addition to exec producing, Davis will play Obama.

Author Aaron Cooley (Four Seats: A Thriller of the Supreme Court) will pen the script and exec produce alongside Davis, Tennon, Oscar winner Cathy Schulman and her Welle Entertainment banner (Crash) will also exec produce alongside Jeff Gaspin (L.A.’s Finest) and LINK Entertainment’s Brad Kaplan. Davis and Tennon’s JuVee banner — which has a first-look feature deal at Amazon — continues to ramp up its development slate. First Ladies joins Amazon’s Fast Color andWild Seed as well as The Asphalt Kiss multiple other projects. Davis next has the final season of ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder returning in September.

Should First Ladies move to series, it would join a Showtime scripted roster that also includes The L Word, Billions, The Chi, Ray Donovan, Shameless, Kidding, Halo, City on a Hill, Black Monday, Penny Dreadful, Work in Progress, On Becoming a God in Central Florida and Rust, among others. Showtime this year is saying farewell to The Affair, with Homeland wrapping up in 2020.

For Lionsgate TV, First Ladies would join a slate that includes the recently concluded Orange Is the New Black, NBC’s midseason entry Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, OWN’s Ambitions, Starz’s The Rook and Netflix’s Dear White People, among others.

For more news and critical analysis, showrunner and executive interviews plus recommendations on what to watch, check out TV’s Top 5, the weekly podcast hosted by The Hollywood Reporter’s Lesley Goldberg and Daniel Fienberg.

Cooley is repped by LINK Entertainment’s Brad Kaplan and attorney Rob Szymanski.