In this post-People vs. O.J. Simpson world, the hottest new trend is the ‘90s nostalgia true-crime limited series. The Mendendez Brothers! JonBenét Ramsey! And now, THR reports the Weinstein Company will bring us Waco, based on the 1993 standoff between the FBI and the Branch Davidians.
For those too young to remember: the Branch Davidians were a religious sect (or cult, tomayto-tomahto) led by David Koresh, a Manson-y type who used his personal charisma, sexual and psychological power plays, and acoustic guitar to inspire unwavering devotion from his followers. Polygamy (and sexual abuse) were reportedly rampant under Koresh, who believed the final judgment was imminent, and was stockpiling weapons accordingly. On February 28, 1993, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms attempted to execute a search warrant on the Davidians’ compound in Waco, Texas with a raid that resulted in a firefight, the deaths of four government agents and six sect members, and a 51-day standoff between the Davidians and the FBI. That standoff concluded on April 19 with a tear gas attack and fire that engulfed the compound and killed 76 people, including Koresh. The cause and legality of the fire remain controversial, and allegations of FBI responsibility for it have long fueled the militia movement and other anti-federal government groups.
Michael Shannon will star as lead FBI negotiator Gary Noesner, opposite Taylor Kitsch as Koresh.
Aside from a quickie television movie made during the initial standoff, the story hasn’t been dramatized before (though it has been the subject of many, many, many documentaries, including the Oscar-nominated Waco: The Rules of Engagement). It will be written by brothers John Erick Dowdle and Drew Dowdle, with the former directing; their film credits include the proto-Blair Witch 1997 film The Poughkeepsie Tapes, the horror efforts Quarantine and As Above, So Below, and the thrillers Devil and No Escape. Waco’s eventual network home has not yet been announced.