Is it possible Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged crimes are so despicable, not even Hollywood will cash in on them? A long-in-the-works doc about the billionaire sex offender has been nixed because its filmmaker decided the material is just too gross.
“I began developing the story in 2017 and shopping it around to the various networks. There was very little interest in the subject matter given the fact that Jeffrey Epstein was at that time an unknown player with very little awareness,” says Barry Avrich, 56, whose films include Unauthorized: The Harvey Weinstein Project and Filthy Gorgeous: The Bob Guccione Story. His latest — Prosecuting Evil about the life of the last Nuremberg Trial prosecutor — is now streaming on Netflix. “As I began to dig further into the story, the subject matter became more distasteful to me and I honestly felt there wasn’t much of an audience who would be interested in this film. I have since decided to terminate any involvement in this project.”
Netflix, however, will test that theory; the streamer is producing a four-part docuseries (from Radical Media) that was in production before the latest headlines, based on the 2016 book Filthy Rich: The Billionaire’s Sex Scandal — The Shocking True Story of Jeffrey Epstein co-written by James Patterson (who is executive producing), John Connolly and Tim Malloy. “They’re well along,” says Connolly of the project.
A version of this story first appeared in the July 19 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.