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A version of this story first appeared in the Sept. 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
Suddenly, the name Ashley Madison is everywhere. While that’s not great news for Josh Duggar or the 30 million other users who had their personal information compromised in a wide-ranging hack that revealed users (including government officials and politicians) who had active accounts on the infidelity website, it is good news for the team currently pitching a TV project to networks based on the controversial site.
OutEast Entertainment partners Steven Marrs and Courtney Hazlett are producing the project — tentatively titled Thank You Ashley Madison and written by Jennifer Kennedy (Justified) and Ian MacDonald — for Toronto-based Marblemedia. Hazlett tells THR that while Ashley Madison was founded by Noel Biderman in 2001, having the story centered on a man seemed “stereotypical.” Instead, they opted to fictionalize it and focus it on a good mother who launches the business to help support her family.
“There are a lot of TV shows doing a great job of presenting marriage storylines in new ways, but what we’re positing here is, what if there is a third lane to run in and what if you were honest about it?” Hazlett asks, adding that the hack will likely be explored in some form. “What if you didn’t need a hack to have this conversation? Maybe this is where your life just is, and no shows on television are offering that.”
Adds Marblemedia’s co-CEO Matt Hornburg: “We are in the early stages of developing a scripted series inspired by the site which, given the events from the past week, make the themes explored more timely.”
And while Duggar and fellow cheaters are likely hoping the name Ashley Madison disappears from the front page sooner rather than later, Hazlett says: “Anytime 30 million people are doing anything, it becomes worthy of a real discussion.”
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