Adam McKay Sets Jeffrey Epstein Limited Series at HBO as Part of Rich Overall Deal

Adam McKay -Miller Mobley - Publicity_h 2019
Courtesy of Miller Mobley

Adam McKay is expanding his relationship with HBO.

The Succession executive producer has inked what sources say is a rich five-year, first-look TV deal with the pay cabler for his newly launched company Hyperobject Industries.

McKay has also set his first project as part of the pact: a limited series focused on Miami Herald investigative reporter Julie K. Brown's upcoming book about Jeffrey Epstein. Brown's reporting has sparked renewed interest in the Epstein case and was a driving force behind the multimillionaire financier's arrest in July on sex trafficking charges. McKay and his Hyperobject partner and longtime producer Kevin Messick will executive produce the project alongside Brown. McKay will helm the pilot.

"We are delighted to continue our longtime collaboration with Adam McKay with this new deal,” HBO programming president Casey Bloys said Wednesday in a statement. "Adam is a uniquely talented director and producer, and we are looking forward to working with him and the team at Hyperobject on many projects to come."

McKay has a long history with HBO, having worked on series including Eastbound & Down, Funny or Die Presents and, more recently, the critical darling Succession. Earlier this year, he landed a pilot order for Showtime, the 1980s-set look at the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers. (Production wrapped Oct. 8 on the John C. Reilly and Jason Clarke-led drama, which is now awaiting word on a formal series order.)

"We’ve worked with Casey Bloys, Francesca Orsi, Len Amato and the team at HBO for years on shows like Eastbound & Down, FOD Presents and Succession. They’re fearless, extremely clued in and know how to frame and present a show like no one else," said McKay.

McKay and former producing partner Will Ferrell split in April. As McKay plots his solo producing course, his new company has hired Todd Schulman to oversee the first-look deal with HBO, which will see Hyperobject develop new projects for both the premium cable network and the forthcoming streaming platform HBO Max. Schulman comes to Hyperobject after serving as an exec producer, working on titles including Who Is America? and Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae's upcoming The  Lovebirds. He also worked with Sacha Baron Cohen on Borat, Bruno and The Dictator. As part of the company's expansion, Betsy Koch will remain with McKay as a producer across TV and film projects. The company, in support of the WGA and its ongoing battle with the Association of Talent Agencies, will not be part of any packaging deals through WME, which reps McKay as a director and producer. 

The McKay-produced Epstein limited series is the most high-profile scripted take on the disgraced financier. Sony TV optioned Conchita Sarnoff's book TrafficKing and is shopping a take to outlets, while actress-producer Patricia Heaton is developing Perversion of Justice, a scripted take based on a series of articles by Brown in the Miami Herald that exposed Epstein as a serial child molester. Neither has a network attached. Lifetime also has the docuseries Surviving Jeffrey Epstein in the works. On the film side, a long-in-the-works documentary about Epstein was scrapped in July.

McKay is the latest big name to put down roots at HBO. David Mandel (Veep) and Mike Judge (Silicon Valley), among others, also recently renewed their overall deals with the Bloys-led premium outlet.  

Succession, meanwhile, in its second season became a critical and awards-season breakout for HBO. The comedy-drama scored a key Emmy win this year for writing for a drama series for showrunner Jesse Armstrong, while McKay won a DGA Award for his work on the show.