David Simon is making a Lincoln assassination mini-series! Yes, Generation Kill just ended, and casting has only recently begun for Treme, but Simon’s already signed on for an HBO adaptation of James L. Swanson’s book Manhunt, about the twelve-day chase for John Wilkes Booth.
Simon’s partner on the project will be Oz’s Tom Fontana, who also adapted Simon’s 1991 book Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets into the NBC show. (Simon calls the reunion “psychically cool.”) Also, both Fontana and Simon are apparently Lincoln-assassination buffs and will co-write the script, focusing on the viewpoints of the bit players in the drama. According to Fontana: “If you use Sept. 11 as the touchstone … I don’t want to see the story of Sept. 11 told through Rudy Giuliani’s eyes. I want to see it told through the fireman and the teacher and the guy working in the bakery on the corner and the wife sitting in Connecticut wondering how her husband is.” Finally, the options for Manhunt were originally owned by Walden Media, which had previously planned a big-budget action treatment starring Harrison Ford. Predictably and awesomely, Simon has already dismissed that approach, saying “I don’t do action.” Is it too much to ask to have The Wire’s Wendell Pierce play a wise but boozy Lincoln?