10:45am PT by Katie Kilkenny
"Stuttering John" Melendez Shopping Reality Series (Exclusive)
John Melendez may be lying low after his prank call to President Donald Trump allegedly caught the attention of the Secret Service — but not too low. The Stuttering John Podcast host has inked a deal for a docuseries with The Idea Factory, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
Darryl Silver (Big Medicine, Born Country) is producing the series, which will feature some classic antics of Melendez's character "Stuttering John," including prank calls and man-on-the-street segments. The show is currently being shopped to basic cable networks and streaming platforms.
Melendez recently made headlines after he said he prank-called Trump and posted audio of the conversation on his podcast. Posing as Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Melendez asked Trump about immigration and Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's upcoming SCOTUS vacancy. Politico and AL.com reported that sources inside the White House said the administration was "scrambling" to figure out how Melendez got through to the president, while ABC News wrote that a White House spokesperson confirmed the call. (The White House has not confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter.)
Since then, Melendez has claimed that the Secret Service visited his house and asked him to a meeting downtown, prompting Melendez to consult two attorneys including Michael Avenatti, the lawyer to Stormy Daniels (née Stephanie Clifford). On a recent podcast, Melendez said that Avenatti told him not to "poke the bear" by provoking Trump with more headlines.
Though, "If they did put me in jail, it would extend the week's news cycle a whole other month," Melendez noted on the podcast.
Melendez first honed his Stuttering John persona on The Howard Stern Show, where he became known for provocative interviews and prank calls to famous people. Between 2004 and 2009, Melendez was the announcer and a correspondent on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno; later, he was a member of the writing staff on The Jay Leno Show and the reincarnated Tonight Show With Jay Leno until 2014. Melendez launched The Stuttering John Podcast in April 2018.
"I will give President Trump credit in one area, which is that he did at least have a conversation with who he thought was a Democratic senator," Melendez said in a recent interview with THR about his now-infamous prank call. "Why doesn't Senator Menendez just pick up the phone like I did? It sends a very sad note about why Washington is so dysfunctional. They could have a conversation, they could find a middle ground if they just talked to each other."
The Idea Factory, which is set to produce Melendez's show, has also worked on A&E's God or the Girl and The Other Side, ESPN's Bound for Glory, Spike's (now Paramount Network) Half-Pint Brawlers and TLC and Discovery Health's Big Medicine, among others. Producer Silver is the founder and CEO.
Besides the show he's shopping, Melendez is also prepping for the release of his memoir, Easy for You to Say, in October.
Melendez is repped by manager Royce D'Orazio, while Silvers is repped by Gersh and Rain Management Group.
The Stuttering John show arrives as Showtime will launch its similarly themed Sacha Baron Cohen half-hour interview satire series, Who Is America?, on Sunday.