Manhunt: Deadly Games, Spectrum Originals' upcoming anthology series about the 1996 bombing in Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park, is about an event that happened nearly 25 years ago, but one that's still tremendously relevant and resonant today, the cast and producers said Saturday at the Television Critics Association winter press tour.
The second season of the Manhunt anthology series tells the story of the same historical event depicted in the contemporaneous Clint Eastwood film Richard Jewell, in 10-hour limited series form. Cameron Britton plays Jewell, a security guard who discovered the bomb and saved hundred of lives, but became the presumed-guilty suspect in the bombing, at the center of an irresponsible media frenzy and law enforcement mistakes. The real bomber was Eric Rudolph (Jack Huston), who evaded capture for more than five years after being identified as a suspect.
Creator Andrew Sodroski said that the story of Richard Jewell is a cautionary tale for 2020, because so many of the problems that came up then are still happening. "The world of the story is a world of fake news; a self-serving Washington establishment that cares more about the story than about the truth; the story of a divided America, and a psychopathic narcissist who takes advantage of our division for his own gain," Sodroski said. "I mean, that's like the world we live in, right now."
Sodroski thinks that if this had happened in the social media age, where opinion gets instantly codified as fact, the character assassination of Richard Jewell would have been even worse than it was in 1996. "The world today is 1000 times worse than the world in 1996," Sodroski said. "What happened to Richard Jewell is horrible, but imagine if instead of one newspaper [the Atlanta Journal-Constitution], and CNN, and the major networks trashing him, it was everybody."
"My sense of what happens today is that the people who are the object of mass online hate have no voice, and no recourse, and it's worse because they're stalked through every aspect of their lives," Sodroski said. "This is something that, you know, I think is really sad, and sick, and we sort of see the beginning of that here. I think what happened to Richard Jewell is something that happens to people all the time nowadays. It's really sad and really horrific."
All 10 episodes of Manhunt: Deadly Games will be released on Spectrum Originals on demand on Monday, Feb. 3. The series will be available on a widely available streaming service at a later date.