Michael Douglas will let a monster kite fly as Ben Franklin in the Apple TV+ limited series

Michael Douglas leads a new Apple TV+ series as founding father and C-note dad, Benjamin Franklin.

The Oscar-winning actor will slip into the iconic bifocals of one of history’s greatest minds in a new limited series for Apple TV+ based on the book A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France and the Birth of America by Pulitzer Prize winner Stacy Schiff.

Michael Douglas and Ben Franklin

Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty; GraphicaArtis/Getty

The series will be written by Kirk Ellis, no stranger to this period having won Emmys for writing and producing the John Adams miniseries for HBO in 2008, while Emmy winner Tim Van Patten (Boardwalk Empire, The Sopranos) will lead. Douglas and Schiff will also serve as producers.

According to a press release, the drama will explore “the thrilling story of one of the biggest bets in Benjamin Franklin’s career.” The series will show how a 70-year-old Franklin, without any diplomatic training, convinced the absolute monarchy of France to support America’s little experiment in democracy.

“By virtue of his fame, charisma, and ingenuity, Franklin outmaneuvered British spies, French informers, and hostile colleagues,” the statement continued, “while engineering the Franco-American alliance of 1778 and the peace final with England of 1783. The eight-year French mission was Franklin’s most vital service to his country, without which America would not have won the Revolution.”

Although he is the last fictional incarnation of the polymath, Franklin has appeared throughout popular culture, from appearances in films (portrayed by Orson Welles not once but twice!), television (Tom Wilkinson won an Emmy for her portrayal in John Adams) and even in… dead Pool comic books? I wonder what the statute of limitations is for rolling in your grave?

Douglas is no stranger to playing iconic characters. In fact, he once portrayed Franklin, at least his voice, in the star-studded 2003 PBS miniseries. Freedom: A History of the United States. And, of course, the most important historical character Douglas has played to date is Liberace in behind the candelabra.

Sure, flamboyant pianist Liberace and esteemed statesman Franklin might not seem to have much in common, but they both understood the importance of showmanship. Am I saying that Liberace could also have obtained the help of France during the Revolution? Judging solely on the basis of wigs from the era, I think the answer is a “why not?”

It is not yet clear when to expect the series to debut on the streamer.

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