Showtime has given a pilot order to Coercion, a drama written and to be directed by Susannah Grant (Unbelievable, Erin Brockovich). Sydney Chandler (Don’t Worry Darling, Pistol) has been cast as the lead in the project, inspired by the life of Rebecca Bender, a national leader on and survivor of sex trafficking. Wiip is producing.
Bender is one of the nation’s top experts on sex trafficking and a leading consultant for federal law enforcement on how to spot it, prosecute it and protect the victims in its web. The series will go back to when Bender herself escaped from the world of sex trafficking after six years, reflecting on her struggles to return to a “normal” life, and her emergence as a confident, funny and impassioned advocate for justice.
“Coercion is based on Rebecca Bender’s personal story of entrapment in the world of sex trafficking, her escape and her stunning emergence as a relentless force against that world,” said Amy Israel, EVP, Scripted Programming, Showtime Networks. “We’re excited to be working with Susannah, whose work as a writer and director is always sharply observed and moving. And Sydney Chandler promises to captivate audiences as she takes on this challenging role.”
Executive producing Coercion are Grant, Bender, Gail Lyon, and actress Rosanna Arquette, who is a longtime advocate for survivors of sex trafficking. Paul Lee and Hope Hartman of wiip also serve as executive producers.
The project reunites producer Lyon with Grant, with whom she collaborated on Erin Brockovich, and with Chandler, who just wrapped production starring in the new Danny Boyle limited series Pistol, of which Lyon is also an executive producer. Chandler will next be seen making her feature debut in Olivia Wilde’s new film, Don’t Worry Darling, opposite Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Chris Pine and Wilde. Chandler, daughter of Emmy-winning actor Kyle Chandler, is repped by UTA, Mosaic and Jackoway Austen Tyerman.
Grant received an Oscar nomination for writing Erin Brockovich. In TV, she recently served as showrunner, writer and director for the Emmy-nominated Netfliix limited series, Unbelievable, which was awarded a 2020 Peabody Award. Upcoming projects include the FX limited-series adaptation of Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s novel Fleishman is in Trouble, with Brodesser-Akner, Sarah Timberman and Carl Beverly, as well as the Apple TV+ limited series Lessons in Chemistry starring Brie Larson. Grant is repped by UTA, Adam Berkowitz of Lenore Entertainment Group and attorney Christine Cuddy.
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