Former Minnesota Democratic Senator Al Franken is making a surprising pivot back into the limelight, not through the corridors of power but on the sets of Netflix’s new comedy series, “The Residence.”
The series helmed by television titan Shonda Rhimes, aims to blend humor with the intrigue of a murder mystery, within the backdrop of the White House.
Franken, whose career took a dramatic turn following a series of sexual misconduct allegations that led to his resignation in 2017, is stepping into the role of Aaron Filkins, a senior senator from Washington state according to Deadline.
With a dead body discovered and 157 suspects in attendance at a state dinner, the series hopes to offer intricacies of political and personal dynamics within the White House. As production gears up, audiences anticipate the series’ debut expected to be no earlier than 2025.
Franken’s entry into the world of entertainment began when he joined the writing staff of “Saturday Night Live” during its inception in 1975, alongside his writing partner Tom Davis. At SNL, Franken quickly made a name for himself, contributing to the show’s comedic voice and appearing in various sketches. His work on SNL earned him several Emmy Awards for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy, Variety, or Music Series.
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Beyond his contributions to SNL, Franken ventured into writing and acting in movies, authoring books, and hosting a talk show on Air America Radio, showcasing his versatility in the entertainment industry. Transitioning from entertainment to politics, Franken decided to run for the U.S. Senate in Minnesota. After a highly contested election in 2008, which included a recount and legal battles, he was officially sworn in as a Senator in July 2009.
However, his political career faced a turning point in 2017 when allegations of sexual misconduct emerged. Amidst growing pressure and an ethics investigation, Franken announced his resignation from the Senate in December 2017, marking the end of his political career.
The initial allegation was made by Leeann Tweeden, a radio news anchor, who accused Franken of forcibly kissing her during a rehearsal for a skit while they were on a USO tour in 2006, before Franken was a senator. Tweeden also released a photo in which Franken appears to be groping her while she was asleep wearing a flak jacket on a military aircraft during the same tour.
Following Tweeden’s public statement, several other women came forward with accusations against Franken. The allegations ranged from inappropriate touching during photographs at public events to unwanted kisses. In total, at least eight women accused Franken of sexual misconduct.
The allegations led to widespread calls from his fellow Democrats in the Senate for Franken to resign. Franken responded to the allegations with apologies, stating that he remembered some encounters differently while outright denying others. He also expressed his willingness to cooperate with an ethics investigation into his conduct.
However, the pressure from his colleagues and the public continued to mount. On December 7, 2017, Franken announced his resignation from the United States Senate, saying that he felt it was the best way to move forward for his constituency and family. He also expressed some resentment and disbelief at the circumstances that led to his resignation, suggesting that the allegations had been politicized and he was denied a fair investigation by the Ethics Committee.
Franken’s resignation was a part of a broader movement in the United States that saw numerous public figures in politics, entertainment, and other sectors facing allegations of sexual misconduct, spurred by the #MeToo movement.