Serial, the Peabody Award-winning podcast that spun off from This American Life and became a viral sensation, has found its second season subject. They will focus on the mystery behind Bowe Bergdahl, the Army sergeant captured by the Taliban and held prisoner for five years after inexplicably leaving his base in Afghanistan. Front and center in all this is Page One’s Mark Boal and Hugo Lindgren, the former New York Times editor who runs his company. Backed by Megan Ellison’s Annapurna, Page One is separately working on a movie about Bergdahl that Kathryn Bigelow will direct, but the production company will first advance the story through the popular This American Life podcast.
Boal and Lindgren will be among the on-air voices and backstage journalists on the podcast series that will begin later this year. They’ll try to get to the bottom of why Bergdahl left the safety of his base. The U.S. government recovered him in a prisoner swap of five Taliban higher-ups held at Guantanamo Bay, and promptly charged Bergdahl with desertion. During nearly five years of captivity, the Army sergeant was severely beaten and after numerous escape attempts, spent the last three and one half years of captivity blindfolded and held in a small cage. Boal and Lindgren will take part in this podcast even as Boal continues to work on the Annapurna-funded Berdgahl film that prompted Bigelow to drop out of Triple Frontier to direct as she and Boal zero in on their followup to the 2013 Best Picture nominee Zero Dark Thirty about the manhunt for Osama Bin Laden There is a rival Bergdahl movie project that Todd Field wants to direct for Fox Searchlight, based on an investigative article by Michael Hastings. Neither project can really go forward until Bergdahl’s third act plays out and his future is decided. Maxim’s website reported that Sarah Koenig will spearhead this podcast as she did a first season of Serial that dissected the case in which Adnan Syed was convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend in 1999 and is serving a life sentence. Bigelow won’t be part of the podcast but continues to develop the feature.