An only-in-Hollywood story is finally getting the Hollywood treatment.
Shameless star Emmy Rossum and Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail are teaming with The Hollywood Reporter to create a limited series based on THR senior writer Gary Baum’s investigative feature about Angelyne, Los Angeles’ mysterious billboard icon.
Rossum will star as Angelyne, the self-created pop culture icon — whose real name, uncovered in Baum’s August exposé, is Renee Goldberg. Rossum will executive produce via her Grey Matters Pictures company alongside her husband, Esmail, and his Universal Cable Productions-based EsmailCorp banner. Esmail’s manager, Chad Hamilton, will also exec produce via Anonymous Content. The limited series project will be shopped to cable and streaming outlets. Baum, who spent months researching Angelyne’s past, will serve as a consultant on the drama.
“I have always been fascinated by the enigma that is Angelyne,” Rossum said Monday in a statement. “At a young age, I can vividly remember staring up at her on a billboard above me and wondering, ‘Who is that woman?’ Gary Baum’s investigative journalism has finally unearthed the true, complex identity of the infamous woman who has fascinated Los Angeles for over 30 years. From the moment I read Gary’s recent piece, I knew I had to tell this story. It’s a poignant and bizarre tale about the hunger for fame, the sexualization of women and the erasing of past traumas.”
Angelyne, 67, is the L.A.-raised daughter of Holocaust survivors, a Jew who found refuge in what Baum described as “shiksa drag.” She was born in Poland in 1950 to parents who were among the 500 to survive out of a town of 13,000. Her parents were sent to concentration camps before escaping to America and settling in L.A.’s Fairfax District. After Angelyne’s mother died in 1965, her father remarried another Holocaust survivor and the family moved to Panorama City, where she attended high school. While her paper trail ends there, Angelyne soon reinvented herself as a blonde bombshell, famous simply for being famous, by appearing on billboards in Los Angeles and driving a pink Cadillac around Hollywood.
The Angelyne project marks the first scripted television adaptation of a Hollywood Reporter article since the publication’s reinvention as a weekly magazine and home for longform journalism.
“We are very excited to bring THR to the next level with this new push into television,” said John Amato, president of The Hollywood Reporter-Billboard Media Group. Added Matthew Belloni, editorial director of The Hollywood Reporter: “Vivid storytelling about compelling Hollywood figures is at the heart of The Hollywood Reporter’s editorial mission. We’re excited to begin adapting our unique pieces of journalism for film, television and digital platforms.”
This will be the second time that Esmail has worked with Rossum. The duo met while making his directorial debut Comet, in which she starred. The couple married in May.
Esmail has been expanding his TV and film footprint beyond USA Network’s Mr. Robot (currently airing its third season). He will direct and exec produce a two-season, straight-to-series order at Amazon for Julia Roberts’ TV series Homecoming, based on the podcast of the same name. Esmail also is attached to write and direct a Bermuda triangle feature film for Universal Pictures and is readying a miniseries based on Fritz Lang’s sci-fi classic Metropolis for Universal Cable Productions.
Rossum, meanwhile, recently saw her dramedy Shameless renewed for a ninth season at Showtime, where the series ranks as its most-watched original. The actress, whose credits also include The Day After Tomorrow and Phantom of the Opera, held out for equal pay with Shameless star William H. Macy last year.
“Once again, Sam and Chad are bringing a captivating story to life,” said Dawn Olmstead, executive vp development at UCP. “We couldn’t be happier to partner with The Hollywood Reporter and the incredibly talented Emmy Rossum in bringing Angelyne’s intriguing story to life. We look forward to finding this project a great home.”
While the Angelyne limited series marks a first for THR, the publication recently was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award for the unscripted series Close Up With The Hollywood Reporter. The series, based on THR‘s awards-season roundtables, airs on SundanceTV.
Rossum is repped by CAA, MGMT Entertainment and Felker Toczek. Esmail is with CAA, Hamilton at Anonymous Content and McKuin Frankel.