Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story, Grey’s Anatomy) will star and executive produce for the new scripted series The Way Down: God, Greed, and the Cult of Gwen Shamblin, according to Deadline. In April, Deadline broke the news that HBO Max would be adapting the docuseries into a scripted series. Campfire Studios and Huntley Productions produced the original docuseries which was about Gwen Shamblin Lara who rose to fame as the founder of the Christian-based diet program, The Weigh Down Workshop. She was also the founder of the Remnant Fellowship Church.
According to Deadline, HBO Max developed the investigative docuseries that detailed Shamblin Lara’s rise from being a diet guru to founding her Tennessee church, Remnant Fellowship, in 1999. The series initially consisted of three episodes and premiered on September 30, 2021.
According to ex-congregants and diet followers featured in The Way Down, Shamblin Lara exerted unwelcome, cult-leader-like control over their lives. “The Weigh Down Diet” advised its readers to avoid overeating by transferring their love of food to a love of God. Readers were encouraged to eat only when hungry and cut portions in half. Shamblin Lara would even include weight loss strategies into the church sermons, telling parishioners if they weren’t losing two pounds a week they needed to fast. Lara was often criticized for building her business by putting a Christian label on it. Shamblin Lara, died in a plane crash on May 29, 2021. The final two episodes of “The Way Down” were re-edited to include the death and the aftermath. It was released on April 28, 2022 on HBO Max.
According to Deadline, the new project is still in development. Paulson will executive produce along with Michelle Dean (The Act), Ross Dinerstien (Mr. Jones), Chrissy Teigen (Bring The Funny), Marina Zenovich (Fantastic Lies), Nile Cappello (Solve: The Podcast), P.G. Moran (Serial Mom), and Luke Dillon (Eye Candy). Co-executive producers include Ross Girard (Rattlesnake) and Rebecca Evans (Operavox). The Way Down was been HBO Max’s most-watched docuseries at the time of its release.