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Hillary Loses: Hulu Passes on ‘Rodham’ After Being In Development for Two Years

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Two-time losing presidential contender Hillary Clinton has lost out again after Hulu made the decision to pass on a program about her that spent the past two years in development by the streaming giant.

“Rodham” is prefaced on a novel of the same name. The fictional work tells the story of an alternate life for the former first lady in which she does not marry Bill Clinton and serves instead as a professor at Northwestern University before decided to run for president in 2016.

Rodham is a nauseating, moving, morally suggestive, technically brilliant book that made me think more than any other in recent memory about the aims and limits of fiction,” Annalisa Quinn noted for taxpayer-supported NPR in 2020 about the novel by Curtis Sittenfeld.

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“20th Television is still shopping the project to other streamers, now that Claire Danes and Dakota Fanning are attached to play Clinton at different stages of her life,” Variety reported.

The entertainment news outlet adds:

The news of the shuffle for Rodham comes a few days before the TV industry gathers in New York from May 16-19 for the ritual of upfront presentations from the major content players.

“Rodham” — published in May 2020, and a New York Times bestseller — imagined an alternative universe in which Hillary Rodham Clinton met and dated Bill Clinton at Yale Law School, but never married him. Instead of the life Clinton has actually led, in “Rodham,” she goes on to thrive as a Northwestern University professor, and launches an eventual presidential run in 2016. Real-world events — such as rape accusations against Bill Clinton, and Donald Trump as a significant figure in politics — also play out in Sittenfeld’s novel, but in vastly altered ways.

As a series, “Rodham” would span decades, with Fanning and Danes playing Clinton at different ages. Should the project land elsewhere and go forward, it would not be the first time Hillary Clinton has been portrayed onscreen in recent years. Last fall, Edie Falco played Clinton during her First Lady years in the FX series “Impeachment: American Crime Story.” Clive Owen played Bill Clinton, with Beanie Feldstein playing the role of Monica Lewinsky.

News of Hulu passing on the project comes as the trial of Michael Sussmann, a lawyer for her failed Democratic presidential bid against Donald Trump, begins.

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Sussmann has been charged by special counsel John Durham on one count of lying to the FBI in an effort to ensnare Trump in a scandal accusing him of ‘colluding’ with Russia. Sussmann told the top FBI lawyer at the time that he was not acting on behalf of any particular client when, according to Durham, he was actually employed by Clinton at the time and was passing along a false narrative developed by her campaign.

In opening statements on Monday, “Durham’s team alleged Sussmann used the FBI as ‘a political tool’ to create an ‘October surprise’ against then-candidate Donald Trump,” Just the News reported.

The report continued:

The prosecution team also said Sussman, a former federal prosecutor, tried to “manipulate” the FBI in his September 2016 talk with the agency, weeks before the 2016 presidential election, by pitching a Trump-Russia collusion narrative. 

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The trial proceedings in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia follow jury selection Monday and begin Durham’s first trial in his probe into the origins of the now-discredited collusion narrative.  

Durham charged Sussmann in September 2021 with lying to the FBI when he allegedly told then-FBI general counsel James Baker that he was not working on behalf of any client while providing him with since-debunked collusion allegations.

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Durham says Sussmann was working at the time on behalf of two clients, the Clinton campaign and then-Neustar tech firm executive Rodney Joffe.

Durham was appointed by then-Attorney General William Barr to look into the origins of the so-called ‘Russiagate’ investigation launched during the waning months of the Obama administration. Soon after the probe began, it turned into a criminal investigation.

If Sussmann is convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.

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