The Watchman: Crowe as Fox News Founder? Roger That, And Sun Sets on ‘Legion’

Senior content producer Michael Malone’s look at the programming scene
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The Loudest Voice, about the late Roger Ailes and how Fox News Channel came to be, begins on Showtime June 30. Russell Crowe is a hoot as Ailes. The series is based on the reporting of Gabriel Sherman, who authored The Loudest Voice in the Room and broke tons of news related to Ailes.

The cast includes Naomi Watts as Gretchen Carlson; Sienna Miller as Ailes’s wife, Elizabeth; and Seth MacFarlane as former Fox News PR ace Brian Lewis.

'The Loudest Voice in the Room'

'The Loudest Voice in the Room'

Executive producer Alex Metcalf said Crowe was tippy top of the call sheet. “We need someone with a real sense of charm,” Metcalf said, “so viewers would understand not only why people ideologically followed Ailes, but personally followed him.”

Getting Crowe to resemble Ailes took between three and four hours of makeup per day. “It was a big process,” Metcalf said.

The project represents Sherman’s first television work. Metcalf said the journalist initially had some trouble balancing the facts with the dramatizations. “Around two months in, he was fine,” Metcalf said. “He reconciled the dramatic storytelling with the fact-based journalism.”

Fox News has not weighed in on the project. “It’s not in any way intended to be a hit piece on Fox News,” Metcalf said. “They do what they do, and they do it incredibly well.”

Metcalf’s goal is for people to “come away with some understanding of Ailes the man.”

The third and final season of Legion begins on FX June 24. Based on a Marvel Comics series, Legion is about David Haller, who thinks he’s schizophrenic but is, in fact, a very powerful mutant.

Noah Hawley is showrunner and Dan Stevens plays David. In the new season, David looks to repair the damage he caused by enlisting a young mutant named Switch.

'Legion'

'Legion'

“David tries to go back in time to see if he can rid himself of the Shadow King,” said executive producer Lauren Shuler Donner, “and start his life anew.”

Dan Stevens, of course, played Matthew Crawley on Downton Abbey, a wildly different role than Haller. “He’s a terrific actor — he can be funny, he can be dramatic, he can be scary, he can be tender,” Shuler Donner said. “He makes it look easy.”

Asked about an unsung hero in Legion land, Shuler Donner saluted Olivia Dufault. Hawley and Nathaniel Halpern handled the bulk of the writing in previous seasons, and Dufault stepped up for this one. “She has great imagination, and eased right into it,” Shuler Donner said.

Why is this quirky drama coming to an end? “It’s the way the story led us,” Shuler Donner said. “We have to be true to the original story.”

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