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Woody Harrelson’s ‘LBJ’ Biopic Lands 2017 Release

Variety logo Variety 5/2/2017 Dave McNary
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Dean Devlin’s Electric Entertainment has acquired all North American rights for director Rob Reiner’s “LBJ,” starring Woody Harrelson as President Lyndon Johnson.

The film also stars Jennifer Jason Leigh, Richard Jenkins, Bill Pullman, Jeffrey Donovan and Michael Stahl-David, and was produced by Reiner, Matthew George, Liz Glotzer, Trevor White and Tim White. “LBJ” had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, and is set for a theatrical release in 2017.

The story follows Johnson through his work as Senate Majority Leader, his loss of the 1960 Democratic presidential nomination to Senator John F. Kennedy (Jeffrey Donovan), and his agreement to be his young rival’s running mate. But once they win the election, despite his extensive legislative experience and shrewd political instincts, Johnson finds himself sidelined in the role of vice president. That all changes on Nov. 22, 1963, when Kennedy is assassinated.

Johnson must contend with longtime adversary Attorney General Bobby Kennedy (Michael Stahl-David) and one-time mentor Georgia Senator Richard Russell (Richard Jenkins) as he seeks to honor JFK’s legacy by championing the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Variety’s Owen Gleiberman praised Harrelson’s performance in his Toronto review: “Once he becomes president, the job weighs on him like a curse because of how he got it, yet the cataclysm of JFK’s murder shakes something loose in him,” he wrote.

The deal was brokered by Electric Entertainment’s  Zac Reeder and by CAA on behalf of the filmmakers.

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