PBS Sets 2-Part George W Bush Doc Chronicling His Contested Election, Response to 9/11 Attacks

TCA 2019: “W,” the newest installment in “The Presidents” documentary collection, will premiere in spring 2020

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A two-part biography on the life and presidency of George W. Bush is coming to PBS next spring, the network revealed during the Television Critics Association press tour Monday.

Titled “W,” the project from PBS and American Experience is the newest installment in the Peabody Award-winning “The Presidents” doc collection. The special will feature 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, according to PBS.

The two-parter is written, directed and produced by Barak Goodman (who directed “Clinton,” also part of “The Presidents” collection) and executive produced by Mark Samels.

Here’s the official description for the biography special, which will premiere in the spring of 2020 on PBS.

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 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.

“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, PBS’ chief programming executive and general manager of general audience programming. “‘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,” Susan Bellows, American Experience senior producer, said. “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.”

Goodman added: “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. 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.”

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