Sundance Channel Plans Drama Series on Fictional NRA Leader Called 'Cold Dead Hands'

Robert Redford's Sundance Channel is developing a new scripted series built around a fictional leader of the National Rifle Association called "Cold Dead Hands." The lead character is Early "Trip" Thibodeaux, described as "the nation’s most powerful gun-rights advocate and the de facto CEO of the gun industry."

The creator is Scott Gold, who's spent the last 15 years as a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times. He's a Hollywood newbie, with just a couple of writing credits for the CBS drama "Under the Dome."  He’s working with veteran TV producer Tony Krantz, who was looking for an “important and current issue” not explored on network TV. Gold told The Washington Post they won't shy away from the controversial issues of gun violence and the NRA:

"This is a divisive issue, no question about it," executive producer Scott Gold told us Wednesday."We won't be shy about that. It's also an issue that speaks to what it means to be American - and there are a lot different versions of that."

...Since the entertainment industry is considered to be inherently liberal, the question of how exactly the show will address these questions is likely to be hotly contested — before the first episode is ever aired — by everyone who has strong opinions about the Second Amendment and gun ownership. “In order to help protect lives, promote gun safety and build a national consensus on the issues, we want to respect and understand all sides of this story,” Krantz told the Hollywood Reporter.

The show’s title comes from movie star and former NRA president Charlton Heston’s impassioned speech to the annual NRA convention in 2000, when the actor concluded his address by holding a replica rifle: “So as we set out this year to defeat the divisive forces that would take freedom away, I want to say those fighting words for everyone within the sound of my voice to hear and to heed, and especially for you, [Democratic presidential candidate] Mr. Gore: ‘From my cold, dead hands!’”

As for how "Trip" will make the NRA look -- will he be slimy like Kevin Spacey on "House of Cards"? -- is unclear. But Hollywood is likely to make him consider and reconsider the liberal talking points on gun control.

How much he’ll resemble the real head of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, is unclear, but Thibodeaux is described as a “charismatic and polarizing figure” who finds himself in a crisis of faith.

“My hope is that Trip Thibodeaux will be the most principled man you’ve ever met,” said Gold. “Whether you agree with that principle or not is entirely up to you.” The NRA, which has no involvement in the project, did not respond to requests for comment.

Here's a little clue about how liberal Sundance Channel sounds: They're also developing a show about a transgendered man after sex "reassignment" surgery named "Thora" with NPR star Ira Glass. It's called "T."

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis