Ivy Meeropol’s feature-length documentary Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn will receive its television debut when it airs on American premium cable network HBO later this month.
The 94-minute film (pictured), which held its world premiere at the 2019 New York Film Festival, offers an unflinching look at the infamous attorney who prosecuted the Meeropol’s grandparents, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, and later argued persuasively for their execution in what became known as the “atomic spies” case.
The documentary draws on a trove of unearthed archival material and audiotapes to paint a portrait of Cohn’s life from the late 1950s as chief counsel to Senator Joseph McCarthy, through to the 1980s when he embedded himself in the Reagan White House as a “rabid anti-homosexuality activist and political mentor” to current U.S. president Donald Trump before dying of AIDS in 1986.
Featured throughout the film are candid discussions between Cohn and journalist Peter Manso, and interviews with those closest to Cohn including John Waters, Cindy Adams, Alan Dershowitz, Nathan Lane and Tony Kushner.
Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn is slated to premiere on HBO on June 19 at 8 p.m. ET/PT, marking the 67th anniversary of the execution of Meeropol’s grandparents, the Rosenbergs.
The film will also be available to stream on HBO Go, HBO Now, and on HBO via HBO Max and other partners’ platforms.
The film is produced by Meeropol, Julie Goldman, Christopher Clements and Carolyn Hepburn; Juan Daniel Torres is associate producer; Marissa Ericson and Peter Manso are co-producers; and Frank Rich is consulting producer.
“Roy Cohn made his name prosecuting and pushing for the execution of my grandparents Ethel and Julius Rosenberg,” said Meeropol in a statement. “Many years later he became Donald Trump’s lawyer, mentor and close friend. If there was ever a time to reflect on how we got here it is now. I am so grateful for the opportunity to share the film with HBO audiences.”