EXCLUSIVE: A big TV package is about to become even bigger. I’ve learned that Oscar winner Julia Roberts is in talks to topline Homecoming, the high-profile drama series in the works at Universal Cable Productions with Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail.
Homecoming is based on Gimlet Media’s breakout fictional podcast of the same name, which launched in November. It instantly became a hot property pursued by several top film and TV producers and studios. UCP landed the rights to Homecoming in December in a very competitive situation for Esmail to develop as a TV series via his overall deal there. Anonymous Content, which produces Mr. Robot with UCP, also came on board to produce. The project immediately attracted major A-list actors. It is expected to be taken out to buyers soon.
I hear Homecoming won’t interfere with Roberts’ commitment to Today Will Be Different, the limited series she is attached to headline and executive produce for Annapurna Television. It recently landed at HBO for development. Reps for UCP and Roberts had no comment.
Written by the podcast’s original writers, Homecoming is a political thriller that centers on a caseworker at a secret government facility — the role Roberts is in talks for — her supervisor, and a soldier.
Presented in a collage of telephone calls, therapy sessions and overheard conversations, the Homecoming podcast had a cast led by Catherine Keener that also included Oscar Isaac, David Schwimmer, Amy Sedaris and David Cross. Keener voiced the caseworker, with Schwimmer as her ambitious supervisor and Isaacs as a soldier desperate to rejoin civilian life.
The TV series version is 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 Chris Giliberti, Alex Blumberg, and Matt Lieber of Gimlet Media.
Homecoming and Today Will Be Different would mark Roberts’ first TV series starring roles. She previously has done just a handful of guest appearances on TV shows and recently starred in the HBO movie The Normal Heart.
Podcast network Gimlet Media was launched in 2014 by Blumberg, a former producer for This American Life, and Matt Lieber. In addition to Homecoming, Alex, Inc, a single-camera comedy based on Blumberg’s podcast of the same name and starring and directed by Zach Braff, landed a series order at ABC for next season.