EXCLUSIVE: Oscar-winning Spotlight producer Blye Faust and Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning producer Cori Shepherd Stern (Bending the Arc, Warm Bodies) have acquired the exclusive rights to Beltway strategist Riva Levinson’s life story for a TV series. The duo have teamed with former The Rook showrunners Karyn Usher and Lisa Zwerling to develop the series at Universal Television, where Zwerling and Usher are under a deal. The four will executive produce, with Zwerling and Usher writing.
Fresh out of college and finding herself relegated to waiting tables in early 1980’s DC, the brash and ambitious Levinson finagled an interview with Paul Manafort and became the first female executive hired to work for Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly – the powerhouse lobbying firm headed by Manafort and Roger Stone who were both recently convicted over matters related to the Trump campaign.
Karyn Usher & Lisa Zwerling Ink Overall Deal With Universal TV For Their Carpool Entertainment Banner
The series will largely focus on her time at the firm as a young female lobbyist pushing to find her own way and moral center while working under the tutelage of the two now infamous political operatives in the outrageous atmosphere of the Reagan 80’s Beltway boys club.
“Riva is an extraordinary woman with a jaw-dropping trove of memories and experiences to draw inspiration from, and the timing for telling this story could not be better,” said Faust.
Added Usher, “Lisa and I had been looking for a story like Riva’s to tell and when Blye and Cori brought hers to us, we jumped at the chance to be a part of it.”
Levinson’s career included the dichotomy of working fervently (and sometimes in secret from her bosses) to get the first female president in Africa elected while still juggling senators, dictators, and “freedom fighters” for Manafort and Stone, a journey charted in her award-winning book Choosing the Hero: My Improbable Journey and the Rise of Africa’s First Woman President, which was released on Audible in November.
In addition to The Rook on Starz, Usher’s previous credits include writing on Bones and Prison Break, which she co-executive produced. Former ER writer-producer Zwerling executive produced Betrayal and co-executive produced the Emmy-winning FlashForward.
Faust won an Oscar as a producer of Spotlight and Stern is an Oscar nominated and Emmy winning documentarian and producer. Through their film, TV, and new media production company Based On Media, they continue to focus on elevated material for film and television, with a project slate comprised of partnerships with Participant, Fox Searchlight, Focus Features, FX and others.
Zwerling is repped by Wendy Kirk at Ziffren Brittenham, Usher is repped by Patti Felker at Felker Tozcek, and Based On Media is repped by WME and Robert Strent at Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.