Peacock has given a straight-to-series order to A Friend of the Family, a true-crime limited drama about the Jan Broberg kidnapping case, from Nick Antosca (The Act, Channel Zero) and UCP, with Oscar winner Anna Paquin, Jake Lacy, Colin Hanks and Lio Tipton attached to star. Eliza Hittman (Never Rarely Sometimes Always) is set to direct and executive produce multiple episodes, including the pilot.
UCP won the rights to the stranger-than-fiction story in a competitive situation, and the project has been in development at UCP since 2020.
Antosca will write and serve as showrunner and executive produce via his Eat the Cat banner, as part of his overall deal with UCP.
A Friend of the Family is based on the harrowing true story of the Broberg family, whose daughter Jan was kidnapped multiple times over a period of years by a charismatic, obsessed family “friend.” The Brobergs — devoted to their faith, family, and community — were utterly unprepared for the sophisticated tactics their neighbor used to exploit their vulnerabilities, drive them apart, and turn their daughter against them. This is the story of how their lives were permanently altered — and how they survived.
Paquin will play Mary Ann Broberg. The mother of three daughters, her life has felt safe, happy and rewarding until recently. She has realized too late that she may have missed warning signs and made a terrible mistake by becoming close to her charismatic neighbor Robert Berchtold — and trusting him around her oldest daughter, Jan.
Lacy will portray Robert “B” Berchtold, a charming local businessman who appears to be a genial Mormon father and husband. An expert in manipulation, he puts everyone around him at ease as he carefully plots the abduction of Mary Ann’s daughter.
Hanks will play Bob Broberg, Mary Ann’s husband and Jan’s father. Bob is big-hearted, kind, and everyone’s best friend, the very model of a suburban patriarch. As his family gets closer to neighbor Robert Berchtold, Bob begins to fear that something is amiss.
Tipton is Gail Berchtold, Robert Berchtold’swife and the mother of a large family. Her husband suffers from mood swings and this has led him to act erratically. Gail’s concerns about her husband may keep her on edge, but she never could have expected what her husband would eventually do.
Eat the Cat’s Alex Hedlund also will executive produce along with Antosca and Hittman. Jan Broberg and Mary Ann Broberg will serve as producers. Skye Borgman serves as consulting producer for Top Knot Films. UCP, a division of Universal Studio Group, is the studio.
“Nick Antosca has created a compelling series in A Friend of the Family that explores one family’s unimaginable experience with great insight and sensitivity,” said Lisa Katz, president scripted content, NBCUniversal Television and Streaming. “We can’t wait to see Anna Paquin, Jake Lacy, Colin Hanks, and Lio Tipton bring these complex characters to life, and we know Peacock audiences will connect with this incredible story of deception and resilience.”
“Alongside Jan and Mary Ann Broberg, Nick and Alex have brought humanity to a delicate and haunting story,” said Beatrice Springborn, President, UCP. “As he demonstrated with ‘The Act,’ and now with this series, Nick treats real people not as caricatures but as complex and layered. We’re proud to bring that quality and care in storytelling to Peacock.”
Mary Ann Broberg penned her experience in her memoir Stolen Innocence: The Jan Broberg Story. The story was also the basis of the 2017 Netflix documentary, Abducted in Plain Sight.
Paquin was 11 when she became the second-youngest to win the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, for The Piano in 1994. She played Sookie Stackhouse on HBO’s long-running series True Blood and recently starred on Amazon series Flack, which she also executive produced. Other film credits include The Irishman, and she will next be seen in Netflix’s True Spirit and in Stephen Moyer-directed A Bit of Light. Pacquin is repped by Gersh and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.
Best known for his role in FX’s miniseries Fargo, Hanks will next be seen in Paramount+’s limited event series The Offer. He was recently seen in Ryan Murphy’s Impeachment: American Crime Story. Recent film credits include Jumanji films Welcome To the Jungle and The Next Level. Hanks is repped by UTA, MGMT Entertainment, Brecheen Feldman Breimer Silver & Thompson.
Lacy was most recently seen as Shane in HBO’s The White Lotus and as Bob Carroll in Aaron Sorkin’s Being the Ricardos, starring Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem. Lacy is repped by United Talent Agency and Beth Rosner Management.
Tipton’s recent credits include Why Women Kill and The Edge of Sleep, and is known for the role of Jessica in Crazy, Stupid Love. Tipton is repped by Mosaic, ICM and McKuin Frankel Whitehead.
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