Weinstein Television has teamed up with the Paramount Network (formerly Spike TV) for their highly anticipated event series Waco, starring Michael Shannon and Taylor Kitsch, with the first trailer arriving today. This footage comes just a day after the first photos were released of Taylor Kitsch as David Koresh, leader of the Branch Davidian cult. The six-part event series is based on the harrowing true story of the 1993 FBI siege of a religious sect in Waco, Texas that resulted in the deadly shoot out and fire after 51 days.
The trailer debuted on Paramount Network YouTube, which features our first look at a number of other key characters, such as Michael Shannon, who plays FBI's Special Agent in Charge of Negotiations Gary Noesner. The six-episode event series is based in part on Gary Noesner's book, Stalling for Time: My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator, along with "A Place Called Waco," by Branch Davidian member David Thibodeau, one of the nine survivors of the final fire on April 19, 1993, who is played by Rory Culkin in the film. The trailer also offers a first look at John Leguizamo, who plays another very intriguing character in this drama.
John Leguizamo plays Robert Rodriguez, not the filmmaker who created the El Rey Network, but an Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) agent who was sent in to David Koresh's Mount Caramel compound to build a case against the cult leader. Surprisingly, he ended up forming a bond with Koresh. While many don't know his story, he was the only undercover operative sent in to infiltrate the compound during the immense 51-day stand-off. The trailer features a number of random shots including headlines from the Waco Tribune-Herald, along with a very brief shot of Supergirl star Melissa Benoist, who plays Rachel Koresh, the legal wife of Branch Davidian leader David Koresh and considered the matriarch of Mount Carmel, along with a final shot of Koresh promising his congregation that "the Kingdom of Heaven is coming."
The supporting cast also includes Julia Garner as Michelle Jones, the younger sister of David Koresh's wife Rachel, whom also had a child with Koresh, Paul Sparks as Steve Schneider, who starts out as one of David Koresh's closest supporters, but begins to question his motives after it's revealed he impregnated his wife Judy (Andrea Riseborough), who reluctantly sacrifices her marriage to show devotion to David Koresh. Rory Culkin's David Thibodeau is a young musician who joins David Koresh's band, who eventually undergoes a dramatic evolution from an agnostic to a true believer, and Shea Whigham as the tactical commander of the FBI, known within the Bureau for his bravado. The cast is rounded out by Annika Marks as Kathy Schroder, Camryn Manheim as Balenda Thibodeaum, Eric Lange as Ron Engelman and Stephen Culp as Jeff Jamar.
In February, 1993, the ATF conducted a widespread raid on Mount Caramel, just outside of Waco, TX. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) had just conducted a massive raid on David Koresh and his followers, known as the Branch Davidians. The raid lead into the largest gun battle in U.S. law enforcement history, where four ATF agents and six civilians were dead and dozens more were wounded. This lead to the 51-day stand off which came to a close when an FBI assault culminated in a fire that destroyed Mount Carmel, killing 76 men, women, and children.
Waco is written by John Erick Dowdle and Drew Dowdle (No Escape) and will be directed by John Erick Dowdle. Shannon, Kitsch, the Dowdle brothers and Salvatore Stabile will executive produce the series along with TWC Co-Chairmen Harvey Weinstein and Bob Weinstein, President and COO David Glasser, Co-head of Production Jennifer Malloy, and Head of Scripted Television Megan Spanjian of Weinstein Television. Gold and Lauren Ruggiero, Vice President, Scripted Programming, will oversee the project for Paramount. Take a look at the new trailer for Waco below.