March 4,2008



from left to right. Kirk &Sheila Ellis, Jonathan Demme, DAVID McCullough

Mike Nichols & Tom Hanks, Morgan Freeman & granddaughter Edena Hines


HBO’s first of a 7 part miniseries about John Adams starring Paul Giametti and authored by Pulitzer Prize winning David McCullough, with screenplay by Kirk Ellis, will be debuting on March 16th.   Adams’ outspoken wife Abigail, known for her loyalty, fortitude and tenacity in this pioneer world at the birth of the country called the United States of America where she raised, nurtured, (almost on her own during her husband’s long absences) their four children, one of whom would become the 4th President of the United States, in a scrubbed clean household is credibly played by a most capable and easy-on-the-eyes Laura Linney.  Others in the cast include Rufus Sewell, Danny Huston, David Morse, Justin Theroux, Sarah Polley (writer/director of Away From Her), Stephen Dillane, Guy Henry and Tom Wilkinson.

 Director Tom Hooper, who was impeccable in his research and faithful to David McCullough’s original biography,  talks of Abigail and John’s relationship as “not only a lesson in the history of our forefathers, but an enduring love story with a tough center”.

It was astonishing to feel you are witnessing the birth of our nation unfold so authentically, delivered by this ace team of curators, writers, director, costume and set designers, scenery, background and its superb cast of actors.

Most of the John Adams footage was shot in Colonial Williamsburg and Richmond, Virginia, but scenes depicting Paris and Holland were shot in Hungary where two castles were used for exotic 18th Century France.

David Morse’s George Washington, a quiet yet commanding presence, was jaw dropping. 

Paul Giametti says he loved his John Adams character because he was so flawed and  highly opinionated.  The handsome, soft spoken Thomas Jefferson, played by Stephen Dillane, a young man of few words in oratory was outstanding in the written word, who having created our Declaration of Independence and being read for the first time by an impressed John Adams and an approving Benjamin Franklin is understated and superb.  Tom Wilkinson, who plays the elder Ben Franklin comes to life spookily realistic in his matter of fact delivery of classic quotes from his diaries with help from his long mane of hair and costume design down to his reading glasses.

All in all, this epic series of films should be seen by not just every American student of history, but ought to be required showing in every language to every naturalized American citizen.  This film is destined to be a Classic contribution to the 21st Century. 

 The John Adams series will be shown every Sunday night on HBO starting at 8pm on March 16th.

Photos and review by Bettina Cirone