EXCLUSIVE: In a very competitive situation, with multiple film and TV studios and producers pursuing, we hear that Universal Cable Prods. has landed rights to Gimlet Media’s breakout new fictional podcast Homecoming for Mr. Robot creator/executive producer Sam Esmail to develop as a TV series via his overall deal at the studio. Anonymous Content, which produces Mr. Robot with UCP, also is coming on board to produce.
We hear major A-list actors, including some who have not done television before, are already circling the hot project, which is being packaged for sale to premium cable and SVOD buyers and is expected to be taken out to market early in 2017.
Presented in a collage of telephone calls, therapy sessions, and overheard conversations, the Homecoming podcast, whose star cast is led by Catherine Keener and also includes Oscar Isaac, David Schwimmer, Amy Sedaris and David Cross, is a political thriller that centers on a caseworker (Keener) at a secret government facility, her ambitious supervisor (Schwimmer), and a soldier (Isaacs) desperate to rejoin civilian life . The six-part experimental-fiction podcast has drawn a lot of attention since debuting on November 16, with new episodes released every week.
The TV series version will be produced by Esmail through his production company Esmail Corp; as well as Mr. Robot executive producer Chad Hamilton of Anonymous Content; Eli Horowitz and Micah Bloomberg, creators of the podcast; Alicia Van Couvering; and Alex Blumberg, Matt Lieber, and Chris Giliberti of Gimlet Media.
We hear that others who chased rights to Homecoming include Sony TV/writer Michelle MacLaren, 20th TV/Matt Reeves & Michael De Luca, as well as TriStar on the feature side for George Clooney and his Smokehouse banner.
Podcast network Gimlet Media was launched in 2014 by Blumberg, a former producer for This American Life, and Matt Lieber. This is the second big TV sale for the company in a competitive situation. In August, Start Up, a single-camera comedy based on Blumberg’s podcast of the same name, starring and directed by Zach Braff, written by Matt Tarses and produced by Sony TV/Davis Entertainment, landed at ABC with a put pilot commitment.
Podcasts increasing are becoming viable IP source materials. Last year, Fox 21 acquired rights to pop culture phenom Serial for a TV series produced by Chris Miller & Phil Lord.
Homecoming was packaged by CAA,which also reps Esmail. Bloomberg is repped by APA.
Mike Fleming Jr. contributed to this report.