11:03am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Making a Murderer' Creators Team With George Clooney for Scripted Drama Series
George Clooney and Grant Heslov's Smokehouse Pictures is teaming with the creators of Making a Murderer for a new scripted TV project.
America's Most Admired Lawbreaker, based on the Huffington Post series of articles by journalist Steven Brill, is the first project for Smokehouse under the company's new first-look deal with Sonar Entertainment. A network is not yet attached. It's unclear how many episodes will make up what is described as an event series.
Making a Murderer creators Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos will adapt the series with Nicki Paluga, with the duo also set to direct. Lawbreaker is the true story of a venerable pharmaceutical company that created a powerful drug and marketed it aggressively to children and the elderly while allegedly manipulating and hiding data about its side effects. The drug company was investigated and agreed to pay more than $2 billion in penalties and settlements but made a reported $30 billion in sales of the drug worldwide.
"We couldn't be more excited to be in business with George and Grant and their talented team at Smokehouse," Sonar CEO Thomas Lesinski said. "Smokehouse has a stellar track record of delivering commercial and critically acclaimed content. Smokehouse will be a great partner for Sonar Entertainment, as the two companies align perfectly in our approaches to premium TV programming."
Lawbreaker marks Ricciardi and Demos' first project since Netflix's Making a Murderer. The two spent a decade chronicling the now well-known case of Steven Avery, who served 18 years in prison before he was exonerated, only to be arrested two years later and convicted for the death of a photographer. The series, released in December, became must-see viewing over the holiday break.
Under Clooney and Heslov's deal, the duo will create scripted and unscripted drama and comedy series for cable and streaming outlets. Smokehouse already has Ms, a mini about Ms Magazine founder Gloria Steinem, set up at HBO, as well as The Studio, a scripted entry about a movie studio in the 1990s, at Showtime. Since launching in 2006, Smokehouse's film credits include Good Night and Good Luck, Leatherheads, The Men Who Stare at Goats, Argo, Money Monster and more.
Smokehouse becomes the latest company to ink an overall deal with the independent production company. They join Ridley Scott's Scott Free U.K. and StoryBy Entertainment. The company's TV credits include MTV's The Shannara Chronicles, FX's Taboo, AMC's The Son and DirecTV's Mr. Mercedes.
Smokehouse, Ricciardi, Demos and Paluga are represented by CAA. Ricciardi and Demos are additionally repped by Hansen Jacobson.