Stephen Gaghan Set to Direct the Pilot for AMC’s Geopolitical Drama WHITE CITY

     August 23, 2014


Academy Award winning screenwriter Stephen Gaghan is a busy guy right now.  Not only does he have Matthew McConaughey nearing a deal to star in his upcoming feature, Gold, but now he’s also gearing up to direct and executive produce an AMC pilot, too.  It’s called White City and is being described as a geopolitical drama about Western diplomats and journalists in Afghanistan.  We last reported on it well over a year ago when it was amongst a list of shows AMC had in development.

The concept comes from co-writers and co-executive producers Nick McDonell and John Dempsey.  McDonell wrote the book Twelve, which was adapted into a film that hopefully you’ve forgotten by now.  He also worked as a journalist, covering Iraq and Afghanistan.  Dempsey is a former resident of Kabul who became a senior advisor on Afghanistan.  Hit the jump for more on what they’ve got in the works.

stephen-gaghan-white-cityAs reported by THR, White City will focus on a guy named Jon Liston, a “war junkie” who lives in Kabul, putting him right near all the carnage.  Eventually, Jon has a problematic encounter with some insurgent leaders and is forced to find a new place for himself in Kabul, making him wonder, is it possible for him, or any Westerner for that matter, to do good in the region anymore?

Apparently Gaghan didn’t just sign on for this one out of the blue.  In fact, McDonell and Dempsey were staying at his place while they were pitching the idea around.  Gaghan recalled:

“Nick and John were actually staying at my house, fresh out of Kabul, when they were going around pitching the show.  They then went on to write a truly astonishing script.  Which got the attention of another old pal, Chris Mundy.  It reminds me of Altman’s Mash or a great Hal Ashby script. But really, let’s face it, if Coppola was doing Apocalypse Now today, it would be an AMC series.”

Mundy also threw in a little something about Gaghan:

“Before the pilot was even ordered, we talked about him as our dream director so to have it come to fruition is incredible.  He not only knows and cares deeply about the terrain we’re covering, but he brings an energy and intelligence that you can’t match.  It’s a show that everyone involved with feels very passionate about and protective of.  So, to have Steve step in and match that same passion makes us realize how lucky we are.”

Now that we’ve got a pilot director on board, hopefully a lead actor won’t be far behind.