Today at the Television Critics Association summer press tour, PBS and American Experience announced W, a two-part biography on the life and presidency of George W. Bush. The newest production in the American Experience Peabody Award-winning collection “The Presidents,” the Bush documentary features interviews with historians, journalists and several members of the president’s inner circle, including chiefs of staff Andy Card and Josh Bolten, speechwriter David Frum, press secretary Ari Fleischer and others.
Written, directed and produced by Barak Goodman and executive produced by Mark Samels, the film will premiere in the spring of 2020 on PBS. Goodman previously directed the highly-acclaimed Clinton, also part of The Presidents collection, and is the writer, producer and director of American Experience Woodstock: Three Days that Defined a Generation, premiering August 6, 2019 on PBS.
“As America’s home for documentaries, PBS and American Experience continue to present a robust collection of critically acclaimed presidential biographies from Eisenhower to Clinton,” said Perry Simon, Chief Programming Executive and General Manager of General Audience Programming, PBS. “‘W’ adds a compelling new perspective on the life and times of George W. Bush, with in-depth interviews and key insights into this important time in our nation’s history.”
“George W. Bush took office less than ten months before 9/11 ushered in a new era of fear, anger and uncertainty, as news of threat levels and anthrax scares became a daily occurrence,” said Susan Bellows, American Experience senior producer. “Twenty years after the dramatic Bush-Gore election of 2000 that introduced the term ‘hanging chad’ to our lexicon, this new film explores the evolution of George W. Bush’s character and how it shaped his presidency.”
“What makes George W. Bush such a fascinating subject is that he was one of the least prepared presidents in our history, yet faced some of the greatest challenges,” said filmmaker Barak Goodman. “Not since Lincoln has such an inexperienced leader been called upon in a moment of genuine existential crisis. How Bush evolved in office under these pressures — at first struggling mightily, but later finding his feet — illuminates not only his character, but the evolving nature of power and the presidency in an increasingly dangerous world.”
Part One of W will follow Bush’s unorthodox road to the presidency through the contested election of 2000, when 36 days passed without a clear president-elect. Finally, a Supreme Court ruling in favor of Bush resulted in his becoming the 43rd President of the United States. But the new administration’s focus on domestic issues was abruptly brought to a halt by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Part Two of the Bush documentary begins with the president’s response to 9/11 and the war in Iraq, and continues through Bush’s second term, marked by the devastating impact of Hurricane Katrina and an unpopular intervention in the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression.