NEW YORK – It could be springtime for Hitler on CBS now that a cast has been named for the network's controversial miniseries on the life of the German dictator.
No airdate has been set yet for the planned four-hour miniseries, although a network spokeswoman confirmed the network is aiming for later this season.
And that means spring is more likely than winter for the two-part mini, for which principal cast members have just been signed.
British actor Robert Carlyle, 41, best known to American audiences for his roles in The Full Monty and Trainspotting, will assume the role of Adolf Hitler, whose life is traced from his birth in Austria in 1889 to 1933, the year he became chancellor of Germany.
Stockard Channing and Peter O'Toole are also among the cast members listed yesterday in The Hollywood Reporter. CBS confirmed the cast list.
Channing, the star of The West Wing on NBC, will play Hitler's mother, Klara, to whom the future fuhrer was extremely close and who died in 1908, when the young Hitler was 19.
O'Toole is slated to play Paul Von Hindenburg, Germany's president from 1925 to 1934 whose fateful appointment of Hitler as chancellor in 1933 changed the course of history.
Rounding out the cast are Peter Stormare, who played a monosyllabic thug who wound up disappearing head first into a wood chipper in the movie Fargo, in the role of Ernst Rohm, leader of Hitler's storm troopers; Jena Malone as Geli Raubal, a Hitler niece who was rumored to have had an incestuous affair with her uncle when she was 17 and he was 40; and Matthew Modine as Munich journalist Fritz Gerlach.
The miniseries is based on the biography Hitler: 1889-1936: Hubris by Ian Kershaw.
Although filming has yet to begin, the project has already drawn criticism from skeptical Jewish groups, such as the Anti-Defamation League, that don't see the value of dramatizing the life of Hitler on TV.
"Why the need or the desire to make this monster human? The judgment of history is that he was evil, that he was responsible for millions of deaths," said ADL national director Abraham Foxman in comments published earlier this year.
A CBS spokesman vowed that the miniseries would be presented responsibly.
"CBS recognizes the responsibility that goes along with a broadcast of this subject matter," the spokesman said. "Adolf Hitler was a monster and cannot be presented any other way. We have tremendous confidence that this miniseries will be produced with the highest standards and seriousness while providing an important and very relevant examination of how Hitler came to power."
The miniseries is being produced by Alliance Atlantis, producers of CSI.