The hit podcast Serial is being adapted by HBO to become a limited series, according to a recent Deadline report. The network is developing the adaptation with British-Nigerian screenwriter Shola Amoo (A Moving Image) and executive producers Lebron James’ SpringHill Company and Kary Antholis, a former HBO executive according to Deadline. Serial is a podcast from the creators of The American Life radio program, that is hosted by journalist Sarah Koenig. Serial shares with the world one true story over the course of a season.
The third and latest season of the award winning podcast was set in the Cleveland Ohio Justice System. Different from the previous two seasons which followed only one case per season, the third season focused overall on the cases before the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas. The first episode of the podcast centers around the plea of a woman who accidentally hits a police officer after being assaulted by a few men in a bar. Another plea is about a young African American man who is assaulted by police officers for possessing marijuana.
The television adaptation of the podcast will focus on a young cop and the man he is accused of beating, according to Deadline. The series shines a light on the deeply rooted heavily biased inner workings of a middle American courthouse, and the impact that system has on every cop, lawyer, and citizen accused of and victimized by crimes.
The New York Times acquired Serial Productions back in July 2020 aiding its growing audience. Serial host Koenig will executive produce the HBO adaptation along with Serial Productions’ Emmanuel Dzotsi and Alissa Shipp, according to Deadline. The Serial podcast adaptation is only the latest in an onslaught of new podcast to series projects for the network. Deadline reports HBO is also at work on a pilot for the remake of the Nice White Parents podcasts with Issa Rae. In addition, the network is working on a movie based on the podcast S-Town with Thomas McCarthy and Participant.
— Serial (@serial) October 13, 2020
Deadline reports this isn’t the first attempt to bring Serial to television. The Lego Movie’s Phil Lord and Chris Miller attempted to adapt the first season of Serial with Fox 21 Television Studios back in 2015. According to Deadline HBO also previously aired the doc series The Case Against Adnan Syed, which was the subject of the first season. Deadline reports HBO had originally optioned the adaptation while Antholis was president of Miniseries and Cinemax so a version of this project has been in the works for a number of years. It was originally intended to be handled by Chernobyl creator Craig Mazin, then James’ Spring Hill Company before Amoo came in with a new take according to Deadline.
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Writing, directing and executive producing Amoo is at the helm of the new podcast adaptation. He is best known for the film The Last Tree, which premiered in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition section of the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Amoo is also set to direct Searchlight’s Sting Like a Bee: Muhammed Ali vs. The United States of America, the feature is based on Leigh Montville’s novel of the same name that centers on Ali’s refusal to be drafted into the US Army during the Vietnam War.
Ohio native Lebron James will executive produce for the SpringHill Company alongside Maverick Carter, Jamal Henderson and Eric Oberland. The NBA star’s company has been involved with projects like the upcoming film Space Jam: A New Legacy, NBC game show The Wall, Netflix’s Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker and docuseries I Promise.
Antholis left HBO in 2019 after 25 years. According to Deadline, Antholis will executive produce the project via his Crime Story Media. He is also involved in Apple TV+’s adaptation of In With The Devil starring Taron Egerton and Paul Walter Hauser.