The Pitch: In the early 1970s, a plucky little movie studio called Paramount Pictures, overseen by a firebrand named Bob Evans (Matthew Goode), had the rights to make a movie based on a very popular novel called The Godfather.
Making this movie, of course, would be no small task, and the hero of the project became an unlikely one: Alfred S. Ruddy (Miles Teller), who prior to taking on the project was a relatively inexperienced film producer best known for co-creating the classic ’60s sitcom Hogan’s Heroes (prior to which he worked for the Rand Corporation as a programmer).
Ruddy’s problems aren’t just limited to negotiating the wild personalities involved with the film — Evans himself, neurotic director Francis Ford Coppola (Dan Fogler), a fresh-faced theater actor named Al Pacino (Anthony Ippolito), and the temperamental head of parent company Gulf & Western (Burn Gorman).
No, there’s also the fact that the mob, as represented by crime boss Joe Colombo (Giovanni Ribisi), isn’t thrilled that a book about the mafia is going into production, and they’re very interested in finding a way to stop the movie from being made.
Fact Versus Fiction: It could be argued that The Godfather is still to date one of the very best movies ever made by Paramount Pictures, so what better platform for celebrating the story of its making than a platform literally called Paramount+? (It certainly fits better than it would if the streaming service was still called CBS All Access.)
Along those lines, the overwhelming feeling of mythmaking in action is pretty prevalent; if you don’t think The Godfather deserves the past 50 years of adoration it’s received, then the show’s rocksteady belief in the film’s untouchable goodness will make the show tough going.
Meanwhile, Godfather obsessives might find themselves bogged down by nitpicking, as to treat The Offer as a factual retelling of the making of The Godfather is a very, very foolish choice. There are points that hew relatively closely to known Godfather trivia, such as how a Columbo enforcer named Lenny Montana (played here by Lou Ferrigno) ended up in the key role of Luca Brasi, but plenty of other moments involve a good deal more in the way of creative license.
For executive producer Michael Tolkin (who already wrote one of the greatest movies ever made about Hollywood, Robert Altman’s The Player), it’s all in the name of telling a good story, but approach anything presented as truth with caution: Just as one example, its version of how exactly The Godfather secured a dead horse’s head deviates from known fact.
The Man, The Myth, The Producer: It’s important to remember that the show’s official source material is “based on Alfred S. Ruddy’s experience of making The Godfather,” as that vibe plays out throughout all 10 episodes of the limited series — the sense that you are listening to your grandpa Al tell some stories of the good ol’ days, when the girls were pretty, the sky the limit, and a man’s word meant something, even when you were dealing with the mob.
The Offer isn’t too aggrandizing when it comes to crafting the legend of Al Ruddy, Uber Producer, but Teller puts every possible ounce of machismo at his disposal into his portrayal here. While not a perfect human, Ruddy is seen as a great guy, respected and well-liked by everyone, and more than deserving of the good fortune soon to come his way; while there are times when he feels like a genuine character, more often than not it feels like we’re seeing the spit-shined version of the man’s story.
Which, fair. We’re all the heroes of our own stories. Not all of us get 10-episode limited series to tell them, of course.