The Comey Rule, the upcoming Showtime miniseries adaptation of former FBI director James Comey‘s book A Higher Calling, had a curious airdate. The show, diving into the explosive relationship between Comey (Jeff Daniels) and President Donald Trump (Brendan Gleeson), was going to air after the 2020 presidential election in late November. Wouldn’t it make more sense to air an information-revealing series about Trump before the nation has the chance to reelect him again? That’s what The Comey Rule‘s director Billy Ray thought. And after he shared an impassioned email with the powers that be (per the New York Times), it looks like Showtime will be shifting the air date to before the election after all.
The initial air date decision was made by ViacomCBS, the parent company of Showtime who ordered the miniseries. Upon this decision, Ray made this statement: “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.” He further clarified his points and offered apologies to his cast (which also includes Holly Hunter, Scoot McNairy, and William Sadler) in an email:
We all were hoping to get this story in front of the American people months before the coming election. And that was a reasonable expectation considering that we’d been given a mandate by the network to do whatever was necessary to deliver by May 15. But at some point in March or April, that mandate changed. Word started drifting back to me that a decision about our airdate had been made at the very highest levels of Viacom: all talk of our airing before the election was suddenly a ‘non-starter’… Why? I don’t know. The health of a media company depends on attracting audiences — and our movie, aired in August of an election year, would have been very big news. Can you imagine the billboards? Comey Vs. Trump! A cast loaded with Emmy winners! Yet here we are. I am deeply sorry that I didn’t win this one.
Ray may have spoken too soon, however. After Ray sent this email to his cast, a Showtime spokesperson sent out this email:
We will be announcing several changes to our schedule and ‘The Comey Rule’ is most likely moving to air before the election.
No specific new air date has been given by Showtime, but a pre-election move seems all but inevitable. Beyond the political implications of airing this potentially eye-opening miniseries to voters before they have to decide whether Trump gets a term two, Ray’s point on this being a huge publicity and ratings generator for the network makes total sense. Could ViacomCBS’ initial post-election airing have to do with rich folks not wanting damaging things about a president concerned solely with the well-being of rich folks coming out before he gets a chance to keep helping said rich folks?