tear down this wall

Contemporary Washington has surpassed the point of satire, so Hollywood has to go back in time to effectively mine new comedy from politics. Emmy-winning Veep writer Ian Martin will be going all the way back to 1986, with a new political satire on the historic meeting between U.S. president Ronald Reagan and Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev in a Cold War movie titled Tear Down This Wall.

The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that Martin has been tapped by Circle Pictures (The Man in the High Castle) to write the screenplay for Tear Down This Wall, a “dark, satirical feature-length twist” on the historic 1986 meeting between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev that was seen as the beginning of the end of the Cold War.

Tear Down This Wall is inspired by An Impossible Dream: Reagan, Gorbachev, and a World Without the Bomb by author Guillaume Serina and developed by Circle Pictures president Stewart Mackinnon. It’s described as a comedy drama that “will track the historic events before and after the now famous Summit at Reykjavik, which many historians view as the seminal moment that jump-started the end of the Cold War… Even more importantly, it will provide an in-depth look at the bond that was created between two men diametrically opposed politically, but with a common goal to rid the world of nuclear threat.” The title refers to Reagan’s famous phrase during his 1987 Berlin Wall Speech in West Berlin.

It’s a story ripe for Martin’s keen satirical mind, known for his award-winning writing alongside Armando Ianucci for Ianucci’s breakout British satirical series The Thick of It, for which Martin was originally hired as a “swearing consultant.” Martin would go on to work with Ianucci for several more projects including In The LoopThe Death of Stalin and Avenue 5. Martin won an Emmy for his writing across five seasons of Veep and was nominated for a BAFTA for co-writing The Death of Stalin. In a statement, Martin said:

“This story will follow a long history of political satire by telling the story of two men driven by clever women, pretending to be in control as the world around them cracked and crumbled. It will reveal the absurdity of high-level diplomacy, showing real people stripped to their emotional, ridiculous human core as they maneuver behind the scenes, each side desperate to seem morally superior to the other. It will humanize ‘Gorby and Ronnie,’ brought together by fate, unable ever to be friends but understanding one another completely.”

After seeing Martin’s work on The Death of Stalin, I’m confident Martin can inject the same kind of absurdist wit into the historic meeting between Reagan and Gorbachev, even without Ianucci involved. And the fact that Martin started out as a “swearing specialist” on The Thick of It just makes Tear Down This Wall all the more exciting.

Also joining the project as executive producer will be Jere Sullivan, a senior public relations advisor for communications giant Edelman, who will serve as communications and political advisor on the project.

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