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NBC plans Hillary Clinton miniseries, part of TV event strategy

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gestures as she addresses a news conference during a NATO foreign ministers meeting at the Alliance
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gestures as she addresses a news conference during a NATO foreign ministers meeting at the Alliance

By Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - NBC plans to air a four-hour miniseries starring Diane Lane as former U.S. Secretary of State and first lady Hillary Clinton, part of the broadcast TV network's strategy to improve its ratings by luring viewers to one-time event programming.

The part of Bill Clinton has not been cast, NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt said on Saturday at a meeting of the Television Critics Association.

The miniseries about the once, and possibly future, presidential candidate will "recount Clinton's life as a wife, mother, politician and cabinet member" from 1998 to the present, an NBC statement said.

Titled "Hillary," it will start with Clinton living in the White House while her husband is serving his second term.

The series will likely air before candidates start jumping into the next U.S. presidential race in the spring or summer of 2015, Greenblatt said, responding to a question about whether the network would face demands for equal time from opponents.

Hillary Clinton is not involved in the series, he said, and the script has yet to be written.

Nick Merrill, a spokesman for Hillary Clinton, declined to comment.

The Clinton project and other miniseries are part of Comcast-owned NBC's effort to lift its prime-time ratings and draw live audiences to one-time events, a defense against later viewing on digital video recorders that makes programs less valuable to advertisers.

For the TV season that ended in May, NBC finished last among the four big broadcasters in total viewers, and third in viewers in the advertiser-prized 18- to 49-year-old range, according to Nielsen.

Its two biggest ratings hits - "Sunday Night Football" and singing contest "The Voice" - draw large live audiences.

"We need to be in the event business," Greenblatt said. "I think you will hear that from every broadcast network."

NBC announced three other miniseries, including remakes of horror tales "Rosemary's Baby" and Stephen King's "Tommyknockers." It is also developing "Plymouth," a series from Mark Burnett about the Pilgrims' journey across the Atlantic and settlement in America.

Burnett is working on a previously announced sequel to "The Bible" for NBC.

NBC also said February's Winter Olympics broadcast will include a documentary about the 1994 figure-skating rivalry between Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding, featuring interviews with both. Kerrigan, who was clubbed above the knee in an attack planned by Harding's ex-husband and bodyguard but went on to win a silver medal at the 1994 Games in Lillehammer, Norway, has said little about the incident in the two decades since.

Walt Disney Co's ESPN earlier this week announced its own documentary called "Tonya and Nancy." The network said it had not yet persuaded Kerrigan to do an interview.

(Editing by Philip Barbara and Mohammad Zargham)

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