TV Surf Report: Hollywood Loves A Good Bio Pic…


Santa Monica, CA — Hollywood loves a good Bio Pic, so be prepared for the onslaught heading your way over the next year as there are lots on tap:  Anita Hill! The Pope! Teddy Roosevelt! Glo Steinem!

Not surprisingly, HBO leads the way in this very tried-and-true genre which has served the pay cable network admirably over the years.

However, Showtime, Netflix and ABC are also in this game.  Historical figures, disgraced aristocrats, and cultural icons feature prominently, and some of the depictions are not favorable.

In February, audiences could be treated to The Madoffs x2 as both ABC and HBO air competing bio pics of the disgraced financial advisor.


  • American Lion at HBO is a 6-hour miniseries adaptation starring Sean Penn as Andrew Jackson.  Lionsgate produces.
  • All the Way at HBO sees Bryan Cranston reprise his Tony-winning role as LBJ in Robert Schenkkan’s play.
  • The Life & Times of Teddy Roosevelt at Showtime.  The youngest POTUS gets the limited series treatment.  No actor attached yet.
  • Coat of Many Colors at NBC is part Bio Pic, part Adaptation as the well-known hit song written by Dolly Parton becomes an event holiday faith-based telefilm.  (Premiered to big numbers in December, as predicted.)
  • The Madoffs at ABC is a 4-hour miniseries “inspired by” ABC News Brian Ross’ book, The Madoff Chronicles: Inside The Secret World of Bernie & Ruth.  Richard Dreyfuss and Blythe Danner star alongside Charles Grodin and Lewis Black.
  • Wizard of Lies at HBO is a 2-hour movie starring Robert DeNiro and Michelle Pfeiffer as The Madoffs.  Barry Levinson directs this adaptation of Diana Henriques’ book with additional material from Truth & Consequences by Laurie Sandell.


  • Lewis & Clark at HBO is a 6-hour miniseries based on Stephen Ambrose’s novel, Undaunted Courage.  Casey Affleck and Matthias Schoenarts star.  Tom Hanks, Edward Norton, and Brad Pitt are among the many executive producers.
  • The Young Pope at HBO stars Jude Law in this 8-episode series chronicling the beginning of Pope Pius XIII.  Diane Keaton and James Cromwell co-star in this Sky-HBO-Canal international co-production.  Oscar winner Paolo Sorrentino directs.
  • MS. at HBO stars Marisa Tomei and Kathy Najimy in a miniseries produced by George Clooney about renowned feminist Gloria Steinem.
  • Billie Jean Vs. Bobby at HBO stars Elizabeth Banks and Paul Giamatti as the tennis stars of the 1973 Battle of the Sexes.  Tom Hanks and Banks executive produce.  Fox Searchlight has its own feature film on the same event starring Steve Carell and Brie Larson.  The race is on!

ELIZABETH BANKS   brie_larson_billie_jean_king_-_split_2015

  • Confirmation at HBO stars Kerry Washington as Supreme Court nominee Anita Hill.  Rick Famuyiwa directs.  Eric Stonestreet, Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Hudson co-star.
  • Harriet Tubman at HBO stars Viola Davis as the historic figure of the Underground Railroad in this period drama.
  • The Conquest of the Sun at Netflix is a 6-hour miniseries dramatizing how Spanish Conquistador Hernan Cortez defeated the Aztec Empire.  Alfonso Arau directs.
  • Reg at BBC One is based on a true story of an ambulance paramedic who opposed Tony Blair in the 2005 election.  Tim Roth stars.
  • The Reaper at NBC is an event miniseries based on the Nicholas Irving memoir of an Army Specialist based in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, in a perfect world, Lifetime would order a full-length version of the Funny or Die short spoof, Meryl, starring the wonderful Christina Applegate as “the wrong choice to play Meryl Streep.”  So, so funny.  Click the link below to check it out on Funny Or Die.



Up Next:  Route 66 begins/ends in Santa Monica, so why haven’t you visited yet? Surf’s up!

About Surfing Hollywood

Steve La Rue is an internationally recognized leader in Film & Television with 20+ years experience as a Development Executive championing such series as Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The X-Files, The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Battlestar Galactica, and Farscape. He writes, blogs, and consults on All Things Entertainment from his home at the beach in Santa Monica, CA, where he balances his life by surfing every damn day.
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