'Manhunt Deadly Games': The True Story Behind the CBS Series

Manhunt: Deadly Games is starting on CBS on Monday, September 21, seven months after the show debuted as a Spectrum Original. Like the first season of Manhunt, the show tells a true story. This time, however, the series is tackling the real-life events of the 1996 bombing of Atlanta's Olympic Park, which killed one person and injured 100.

In the CBS/Spectrum series, we explore the lives of the two suspects: Park security guard Richard Jewell (Cameron Britton), who the media hounded after he was thought to be a suspect due to fitting the profile of a "lone gunman," and Eric Rudolph (Jack Huston), a right-wing radical with links to Army of God, a militant anti-abortion terrorist group.

If the name of Richard Jewell sounds familiar, that is because he is also the subject of recent Clint Eastwood movie Richard Jewell, which told the story of his time as a suspect in the bombings and how he received a trial by the media.

Though the two projects were filmed at the same time, they were independent of each other, and the Manhunt: Deadly Games had not seen the film when they made the series.

Both versions of the story are based on different sources; Richard Jewell was based on the Vanity Fair article "American Nightmare: The Ballad of Richard Jewell" and the book The Suspect: An Olympic Bombing, the FBI, the Media, and Richard Jewell, the Man Caught in the Middle, while Deadly Games is based in part on the Maryanne Vollers book Lone Wolf, which is mostly about Rudolph.

manhunt deadly games true story
'Manhunt: Deadly Games' tells the story of 1996 Olympic Park bomber Eric Rudolph, who is played in the CBS/Spectrum series by Jack. Huston (right). CBS

As such, Manhunt: Deadly Games is much more about Rudolph, who was arrested in 2003 for setting the pipe bomb at the Olympic Park, as well as three other bombings, including explosives set off at two abortion clinics and a lesbian bar.

The hunt for Rudolph truly lives up to the series' name, as it was an epic manhunt that took five years. Rudolph earned a place on the FBI's Most Wanted List in 1998, with a $1 million reward for information leading to his capture. The fugitive, however, managed to evade police capture by hiding in the forests of North Carolina, living on acorns, salamanders and whatever he could find dumpster diving in nearby Murphy.

The CBS show, however, makes one big change to the stories of Jewell and Rudolph. In reality, their time as suspects did not coincide. Jewell was cleared as a suspect three months after the 1996 bombing, while Rudolph did not emerge as a suspect until February 1998, when the bombs he used in other attacks were found to match the one that was set off in the Olympic Park.

In the show, however, the two are intertwined. We wanted to capture the true feelings by fictionalizing our timeline," executive producer Andrew Sodroski said of this to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Also to make it more exciting. A lot of the manhunt involved sitting and waiting in the woods looking for Eric for years."

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Cameron Britton as Richard Jewell in 'Manhunt: Deadly Games'. CBS

After five years hiding out, Rudolph was arrested in Murphy by a police officer who suspected burglary of a supermarket was in progress. When he investigated, however, he found Rudolph looking in a dumpster for food.

Writing on the FBI website, FBI executive Chris Swecker said of Rudolph's condition when he was found: "He was thin, much thinner than when he first went into the mountains, but in very good shape. He talked about being very sick in the first winter, malnourished. After that, things kind of steadied for him."

In order to avoid the death penalty, he pled guilty, and revealed where he had hid 250 pounds of dynamite. He received two consecutive life terms without parole in July 2005 for the murder of a police officer during one of the abortion clinic bombings, and two more in August of that year for the bombings. He now resides in the ADX Florence Supermax prison in Colorado.

In an April 2005 statement, he revealed his motivations for his acts. That statement read in part: "In the summer of 1996, the world converged upon Atlanta for the Olympic Games. Under the protection and auspices of the regime in Washington millions of people came to celebrate the ideals of global socialism...the purpose of the attack on July 27 was to confound, anger and embarrass the Washington government in the eyes of the world for its abominable sanctioning of abortion on demand."

In the same statement, he also expressed his anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments. He wrote: "Whether it is gay marriage, homosexual adoption, hate crimes laws including gays, or the attempt to introduce a homosexual normalizing curriculum into our schools, all of these efforts should be ruthlessly opposed."

Asked about his Rudolph's motivations by the FBI, meanwhile, Swecker said: "He had borrowed ideas from a lot of different places and formed his own personal ideology. He clearly was anti-government and anti-abortion, anti-gay, 'anti' a lot of things. The bombings really sprang from his own unique biases and prejudices. He had his own way of looking at the world and didn't get along with a lot of people."

Manhunt: Deadly Games starts Monday, September 21 at 10 p.m ET / 9 p.m. CT on CBS.

'Manhunt Deadly Games': The True Story Behind the CBS Series | Culture