HBO's 'John Adams' Gives Nation's Second President His Due

By Krystal, Becky | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, March 15, 2008 | Go to article overview

HBO's 'John Adams' Gives Nation's Second President His Due


Krystal, Becky, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Historian David McCullough thinks it's time John Adams got his due, and a new television production might do the trick.

On Sunday, HBO premieres a seven-part miniseries based on McCullough's book about the founding father whose importance is often lost amid the legends of better-known compatriots such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, who teamed up to produce the 2001 HBO miniseries "Band of Brothers," are executive producers.

Actor Paul Giamatti, who portrays Adams, said he sees the second president's often-overlooked legacy as a bonus in making the film.

"Nobody has that really cemented idea about him in their heads, so it made it a little bit easier for me," Giamatti said.

The miniseries emphasizes Adams's role in persuading the 13 original colonies to battle Britain for their independence. The film raises the question: "Would it all have happened if this guy hadn't dragged the whole country behind him into this thing?" Giamatti said.

Through Adams, viewers are introduced to a who's who of American history, including Washington (David Morse), Jefferson (Stephen Dillane) and Benjamin Franklin (Tom Wilkinson). Also featured is Adams's remarkable relationship with his wife, Abigail (Laura Linney).

Director Tom Hooper said being British helped him tell an unromanticized version of the nation's founding, and Giamatti said the filmmakers "certainly were very interested in getting in all that kind of real gritty detail. …

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