The Watchman: FX Trusts You’ll Like Its New Series, ‘Adam’ Host Salutes Jon Stewart

Contributing editor Michael Malone’s weekly look at the programming scene
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FX is ready to take a big swing with Trust, about the 1973 kidnapping of John Paul Getty III, heir to the family’s oil fortune, by the mafia in Rome. The show kicks off March 25, and FX hosted a panel in New York that included cast members Donald Sutherland (J. Paul Getty Sr.), Harris Dickinson (John Paul Getty III) and Brendan Fraser as a private investigator by the name of James Fletcher Chace.

Fraser sported a sweet cowboy hat. “That’s who Chace is,” he said. “He doesn’t carry a gun. He wears a Stetson.”

He went on to describe his character as a mysterious guy “who has seen some dark things. He’s more of a punching bag, a negotiator, a consigliere of sorts.”

In the story — well-trod last year in the theatrical film All the Money in the World — John Paul Getty III’s captors assumed the teen’s family would readily cough up the ransom, but his grandfather was stuck in a mansion in the English countryside, surrounded by mistresses and a pet lion. His father refused to answer the phone. John Paul’s mother, played by Hilary Swank, was willing to negotiate. But she had no dough.

Sutherland had kind words for the script, cranked out by Simon Beaufoy, who created Trust. He also talked a bit about scripts that don’t quite take off. “This word, those words don’t fit my mouth,” related the veteran thespian. “They don’t come from my gut.”

Beaufoy’s work, he said, was “completely and utterly profound. Simon’s words … every single word was just perfect.”

Sutherland also had good things to say about John Landgraf, FX Networks CEO. He called the executive “the ideal man, intellectually, emotionally, sympathetically, to work with” on the project.

Beaufoy, Danny Boyle and Christian Colson are the executive producers. Boyle directs the first three episodes. He talked a bit about facts and the current president’s tendency to play around with them, and quoted Stanley Kubrick in a bit about helping actors find the truth in a scene: “It’s the feel of something that’s the truth, not the facts,” he said.

Speaking of fact-checking, we had a chance to chat with Adam Conover, host of Adam Ruins Everything, about a block of animated episodes the show is set to debut on truTV. Conover of course takes delight in debunking myths and misconceptions. Which other disruptor/disprover does he most look up to? The answer, it turns out, is Jon Stewart.

“I grew up watching him, and he’s really my Johnny Carson figure,” Conover said. “The way he’s able to use comedy to educate and provoke and move the needle of culture to make people think differently about issues.”

Conover called Stewart’s work “the top of the mountain,” adding, “I have always aspired to do work that is close to approaching that level.”

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