Kim Masters of The Hollywood Reporter reports today that NBC is looking to jettison a controversial miniseries on Hillary Clinton once the hubbub surrounding it dies down a bit. Thing is, although killing the project may be relatively easy, overcoming the bad press will be difficult.
Masters reports that NBC Universal sources are predicting that NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt "will let the furor die down and the project will simply disappear without a big announcement." That backs up a (definitely more random) report from Florida-based blogger Scott Jones at his gossip site FTVLive. In a report Monday, Jones wrote: "Word is that NBC is going to let it quietly go away without saying a word."
If so, it would be an unceremonious end to a project that often felt like it might be more trouble than it was worth. Although NBC made a big show of announcing the miniseries at the Television Critics Association press tour late last month, a controversy erupted when Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus threatened both NBC and CNN, which is producing a documentary on the former Secretary of State, with a boycott. (NBC News' Chuck Todd called the miniseries project a "nightmare," and Fox Television Studios—which was in early talks to co-produce the project—decided it wouldn't get on board.) Then, last week, the Republican National Committee voted in favor of the boycott, which would ban primary debates from airing on the two networks.
Masters explains that Fox TV's decision not to co-produce was "ostensibly for financial and not political reasons," but with other studios passing as well, lack of funding may be a way out for NBC. "If the Clinton plan fades because NBCU pursues an unmakeable deal, some might still believe the real issue was politics," she writes. "But the company could argue that this hardly was the first project to succumb to the difficult economics of the business."
At this point, killing the project —set to be written and directed by Frozen River's Courtney Hunt—would be fairly simple. (On Friday Greenblatt released a statement insisting that the miniseries was only in "development.") The repair of NBC's reputation, however, might not be as easy. In her story, Masters portrays Greenblatt as careless with the project from the beginning, reporting that he "did not seek [NBC Universal CEO Steve] Burke's blessing or flag the deal in a meaningful way." (For what it's worth, Masters says that the politically conservative Burke isn't insisting the project be abandoned.) Now NBC has to make a decision: Stand up to the ire of Republicans or look like cowards. Neither is where the network wants to be.