The Hulu series ‘The Looming Tower’ follows FBI agent Ali Soufan as he struggles to prevent an Al Qaeda attack on U.S. soil. The real Soufan says watching French film star Tahar Rahim portray him on television was kind of weird but potentially worth it: if people can learn the history of 9/11, perhaps it won’t be repeated. Soufan and Lawrence Wright, author of the book on which the Hulu series is based, talk about the challenges of dramatizing the complex story of the run-up to 9/11. And Soufan offers his blunt take on Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammed bin Salman’s recent charm offensive in Hollywood.
FROM THIS EPISODE
- CBS and Viacom--can they hug it out? CBS made a low-ball bid for Viacom, which Viacom then rejected. Thought the two companies will likely eventually (re)merge, what the new corporate structure would look like remains unclear.
- Kenya Barris, the creator of ‘Black-ish’ on ABC is planning to leave the company, and possibly heading to Netflix. This is after one of his episodes didn’t air and other reported clashes with the company. It’s a bad look for ABC, which also recently lost Shonda Rhimes to Netflix.
The Hulu series 'The Looming Tower' traces events leading up to 9/11, with a focus on the FBI’s attempts to track down Al Qaeda terrorists before they could strike on American soil. The story depicts the CIA as repeatedly refusing to to share critical information with the Bureau, frustrating efforts that might have prevented the attack that altered the course of history.
Based on the book of the same name by journalist Lawrence Wright, Hulu's 'The Looming Tower' begins just before the 1998 Al Qaeda bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
In the series we see young, Lebanese-born Ali Soufan--played by French-Algerian actor Tahar Rahim--joining the FBI as a special agent around that time. When he joins, he's one of only 8 agents in a force of 10,000 who speaks Arabic.
Our guests today are the real Ali Soufan and Lawrence Wright. Wright is one of the co-creators of the Hulu series, along with Alex Gibney and Dan Futterman. Soufan serves as a consultant and producer on 'The Looming Tower.'
Wright has seen his books adapted before--Kim Masters was a talking head in Alex Gibney’s Scientology documentary based on his book ‘Going Clear.’
In the case of 'The Looming Tower,' Wright says there was a time when he doubted it could ever be dramatized on a screen large or small. They tell us why they were hesitant to adapt it at first, and what changed recently that made them feel it was time to go ahead.
Plus, Soufan talks about the strange experience of watching himself portrayed by French film star Tahar Rahim, and how he got an initially hesitant Rahim to take the role in the first place.
And both men offer their perspectives--and a warning--about Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s recent courting of Hollywood honchos.
More From The Business
Jon M. Chu and Kevin Kwan on the crazy gamble of 'Crazy Rich Asians' Author Kevin Kwan and director Jon M. Chu passionately wanted the movie version of ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ to play in theaters. So they turned down a huge offer from Netflix and took their chances with Warner Brothers. Chu and Kwan talk about what they did for love when they made the first major studio movie to feature an all Asian cast in years.
Director Desiree Akhavan on ‘The Miseducation of Cameron Post’ After her first feature premiered at Sundance to strong reviews, director Desiree Akhavan thought finding money to make a second film would be a snap. But after striking out in LA, Akhavan’s quest to make another project ultimately landed her in London. She tells us why she thinks the Brits are more open to her ideas, and talks about her newest film, ‘The Miseducation of Cameron Post.’
Banter update: CBS CEO Leslie Moonves accused of sexual misconduct in New Yorker exposé Late on Friday afternoon, a New Yorker investigation by Ronan Farrow dropped, revealing accusations of misconduct against Leslie Moonves by six women. The CBS board met on Monday and announced that Moonves would remain at work while the board works to hire outside counsel to conduct an investigation.
Director Matt Tyrnauer on ‘Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood’ A new documentary explores the incredible life of 95-year-old Scotty Bowers--a prolific pansexual pimp to the stars. Bowers says he set up liaisons for celebrities from Cary Grant to Rock Hudson to J. Edgar Hoover--all from his base in a gas station on Hollywood Boulevard. Director Matt Tyrnauer tells us about his film, ‘Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood.’
LATEST BLOG POSTS
Healing sexual assault through cabaret On a recent Saturday night in Hollywood, a bar was packed with 20 and 30-somethings drinking, talking have having a good time. They were here to see a variety show,… Read More
Without China, who will take our recycling? China’s new recycling policies have upended recycling programs all around the country and here in LA. During the first quarter of 2017, California exported 54,000 tons of mixed plastics. In… Read More