According to The Hollywood Reporter, HBO has confirmed an upcoming documentary series based on the alleged sex trafficking of the self-help organization NXIVM (pronounced “NEX-ee-um”), of which Allison Mack of Smallville allegedly played no small role. Mack pleaded guilty to both sex trafficking and forced labor charges April 8th, along with Nancy Salzman, who co-founded the organization. Keith Raniere, leader of the organization, is scheduled to appear in court May 7th.
While the case has yet to be settled, the documentary will focus more on an inside-look at the organization. The HBO Documentary Films series will be driven by directors Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer (Control Room, The Square, The Great Hack), and will, according to HBO, “take a deep, nuanced look at experiences of its members, spotlighting their universal desire for personal growth,” following some of the group members and their experiences. The series will additionally delve into the “emotional toll” on NXIVM members in light of the trial, particularly with the women who allegedly were forced by Raniere and his close circle, of which Mack was allegedly a part of, to have sexual intercourse with Raniere, as well as allegedly receive a branded mark with his initials.
According to the official complaint, “Raniere created a secret society within Nxivm called “DOS,” which loosely translated to “Lord/Master of the Obedient Female Companions,” or “The Vow.” DOS operated with levels of women “slaves” headed by “masters.” Slaves were expected to recruit slaves of their own (thus becoming masters themselves), who in turn owed service not only to their own masters but also to masters above them in the DOS pyramid. Raniere stood alone at the top of the pyramid. Other than the Raniere, all members of DOS were women.” The report goes on to state the following:
As a pre-condition to joining DOS, women were required to provide “collateral,” which included highly damaging information about friends and family members, nude photographs and/or rights to the recruit’s assets. DOS slaves feared that their collateral could be released for any number of reasons, including telling anyone about DOS’s existence or leaving DOS. Many DOS slaves were branded on their pelvic areas using a cauterizing pen with a symbol which, unbeknownst to them, incorporated Raniere’s initials. During the branding ceremonies, slaves were required to be fully naked, and a master would order one slave to film the branding while the others restrained the slave being branded.
Director Noujaim had in fact experienced a taste of the organization back in 2010 when she took NXIVM’s “Executive Success Program,” during which time she claimed she received “an illuminating perspective to the media spectacle surrounding this polarized community as it faces federal investigation.” It was almost exactly a year ago that Annapurna Television procured the rights to The New York Times’ 2017 information regarding the alleged cult organization in order to turn the story into a scripted television series.
No date has yet been set for the series.