In a year where Netflix has inked deals with Ryan Murphy, Shonda Rhimes and more, the deal that took everyone by surprise was a production agreement with none other than Barack and Michelle Obama. The “storytelling partnership” will see the former White House residents work with Netflix to produce a diverse mix of content, including the potential for scripted series, unscripted series, docu-series, documentaries and features.
Now, the first steps for that partnership are being taken, as The Obamas have reportedly acquired the rights for Michael Lewis’ latest book, The Fifth Risk.
The book, which hit bookshelves last month, “reveals the combustible cocktail of wilful ignorance and venality that is fuelling the destruction of a country’s fabric”.
“People don’t notice when stuff goes right,” reads the synopsis. “That is the stuff government does. It manages everything that underpins our lives from funding free school meals, to policing rogue nuclear activity, to predicting extreme weather events. It steps in where private investment fears to tread, innovates and creates knowledge, assesses extreme long-term risk. And now, government is under attack. By its own leaders.”
The book particularly focuses on the departments of Energy, Agriculture and Commerce following the handover from President Obama to President Trump, with Lewis speaking to federal workers from the Obama administration who were in those departments, creating briefing books for their successors, only for the replacements to be reportedly unqualified.
Lewis is no stranger to having screen adaptations of his work, with previous novels including Moneyball, The Big Short and The Blind Side. Indeed, his book Flash Boys about Wall Street reformers is already being adapted for Netflix by Ben Jacoby. The Fifth Risk’s civics lesson, though, seems to be a particularly good fit for The Obamas’ aims to “inspire us, to make us think differently about the world around us, and to help us open our minds and hearts to others”.
Nothing has yet been given the official green light, but this gives us our first idea of what a partnership between The Obamas and Netflix might look like.