12:00pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
Universal Content Productions Launches Podcast Network With Sam Esmail Original
Universal Content Productions is diving further into the podcast space.
The NBCUniversal-owned studio is launching UCP Audio, a podcast network set to debut in 2020 with both scripted and unscripted offerings — including one from Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail featuring LaKeith Stanfield (Atlanta, Get Out).
Fronted by UCP and Wilshire Studios president Dawn Olmstead, UCP Audio extends the studio's work in the space beyond its adaptations of the podcasts Homecoming (executive produced by Esmail), Dirty John, Dr. Death and the newly announced Joe Exotic.
UCP Audio will launch with Esmail's scripted podcast The End Up and two unscripted true-crime investigations, House of Prayer and an untitled troubled-teen industry project. Episodes will debut weekly when the service launches next year at a date to be determined.
"We at UCP are excited about all the potential that lives in the audio space. For the last several years we have been avid listeners and adapters. After the experience of adapting Dirty John, Homecoming, Dr. Death and more, we are firm believers that audio is as important for IP creation as books, film and television,” Olmstead said Tuesday in a statement. “With the launch of UCP Audio, we can offer storytellers the opportunity to write for multiple platforms, making UCP a one-stop shop for whatever story you want to tell."
As of press time, UCP has four TV series currently in the works that are based on podcasts: Amazon's Esmail-produced Homecoming, the Bravo turned USA Network anthology Dirty John, Peacock's Dr. Death and Joe Exotic, starring Kate McKinnon. (The latter, also announced Tuesday, does not yet have a network attached.)
UCP Audio podcasts will stream at UCPAudio.com and will be available on major platforms including iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts and more. Additional podcasts will be announced at a later date.
Here are details on the first three of UCP Audio's podcasts:
The End Up
UCP Audio’s inaugural scripted podcast is written, directed and produced by Will Weggel and Danny Luber and produced by Esmail Corp. It takes place in a tilted near-future where cancer patients who wish to end their suffering must attend a weeklong boot camp promising an “elegant off-ramp to life.” Two best friends wrestle with their goodbye after one of them enrolls in the program and discovers that the off-ramp is not so elegant. LaKeith Stanfield (Atlanta, Get Out) is set to star. Weggel is a screenwriter who most recently worked on the HBO Max series Made for Love and got his start on UCP’s Homecoming. He currently writes on HBO Max's Station Eleven. Luber is a writer and podcast producer. Previously, he worked as a behavioral aide in the LAUSD.
House of Prayer
The unscripted podcast revolves around what happens when a daughter's call to police about memories of her mother's heinous crimes triggers a yearlong investigation into an alleged cult, the disappearance of a child and a murder. Former prosecutor and legal analyst Beth Karas (Unspeakable Crime: The Killing of Jessica Chambers) will host.
Untitled troubled-teen industry podcast
Hosted by journalist Josh Bloch (Uncover: Escaping NXIVM), this unscripted podcast dives deep into the search for a missing teen, uncovering the dark and twisted business of therapeutic schools and their ties to politicians, Hollywood and one of America's most dangerous cults.