|Bank robbers Holiday Grainger and Emile Hirsche|
A two-part TV-movie? What is this–1985??
No, it’s Bonnie & Clyde and you can tell it’s
not the ’80s because its airing over three networks at once: History, Lifetime and A&E. Part Two airs Monday night at 9 p.m.
I spoke last week with executive producers John Rice and Joe Batteer and squeezed them into a story I was filing about the current trend towards period dramas on television. You can read that story here.
Rice and Batteer say the networks can’t get enough period shows right now which suits them fine. They see these shows set in another place and time as a welcome relief from all the procedural cop shows that have been clogging up network schedules for years.
As for the three networks, the producers say they were originally commissioned to make Bonnie & Clyde for History and then Lifetime came in. They saw one network exposing the TV-movie for the men (History) and one for the women (Lifetime).
A&E, they figure, brings an edgier audience. (All three are A&E-owned networks.)
The three network gambit paid off Sunday with 9.8 million U.S. viewers tuning into Part One according to Nielsen. That was less than what The Bible or Hatfields & McCoys drew on History but enough to put a big dent in Sunday viewing.
In Canada, Bonnie & Clyde drew an overnight, estimated 388,000 on History Sunday night. (Lifetime numbers not available.)
Rice and Batteer say they were not trying to “out-gun” the 1967 Bonnie & Clyde Arthur Penn movie starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway. That film ushered in a new era of on-screen violence in American cinema.
They agreed that some actors and actresses just have period faces, singling out Grainger–who traveled even farther back in time in Borgias–as somebody whose porcelain skin just photographs well in any era.