EXCLUSIVE: Taron Egerton and the creators behind Apple TV+’s lauded drama Black Bird are re-teaming on crime series Firebug, inspired by events surrounding notorious California arsonist John Leonard Orr.
Black Bird creator Dennis Lehane, star and executive producer Taron Egerton, and executive producers Richard Plepler, Kary Antholis, and Imperative Entertainment’s Bradley Thomas and Dan Friedkin will reteam on the Apple Original series.
Written by Lehane and inspired by true events, Firebug will follow a troubled detective and an enigmatic arson investigator (played by Rocketman star Egerton) as they pursue the trails of two serial arsonists.
Former firefighter Orr was an arson investigator for the Glendale Fire Department in Southern California. Initially hired to understand and track down cases of arson, he became a convicted serial arsonist himself. He was found to be the cause of a spate of high-profile fires across California in the 1980s and ’90s that led to tens of millions of dollars of damage and four deaths. His nicknames included “The Pillow Pyro,” “Frito Bandito” and “The Coin Tosser.”
Orr’s modus operandi was to set fires in stores while they were open and populated, using an incendiary timing device, usually comprising a lit cigarette with three matches wrapped in ruled yellow writing paper and secured by a rubber band. He also would set small fires, often in the grassy hills, in order to draw firefighters, leaving fires set in more congested areas unattended.
Firebug will be produced by Apple Studios and is developed, written and executive-produced by Lehane. In addition to starring, Egerton will serve as executive producer alongside former HBO boss Plepler through Eden Productions as well as Bradley Thomas and Dan Friedkin through Imperative.
The fictional series is inspired by some of the events presented in truth.media’s Firebug podcast, which was hosted by the Oscar and Emmy winner Antholis (One Survivor Remembers), who executive-produces for Crime Story Media; Marc Smerling serves as executive producer for Truth Podcasting Corp.
Lehane’s novels are the source material for movies including Mystic River, Shutter Island and Gone Baby Gone. His TV credits also include The Wire and Boardwalk Empire. Recent hit Black Bird sees Egerton star as Jimmy Keene, who is sentenced to 10 years in a minimum-security prison but cuts a deal with the FBI to befriend a suspected serial killer. Keene has to elicit a confession from another convict to find the bodies of as many as 18 women.
Firebug is the fourth project hailing from Apple Studios and produced by Imperative Entertainment, joining Black Bird, Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio’s upcoming film Killers of the Flower Moon, and the recently announced Apple Original Film development The Wager, an adaptation of David Grann’s new book being developed by Sikelia Productions. Egerton has also recently teamed with Apple on their upcoming feature Tetris: The Movie.
Egerton is repped by Range Media Partners, United Agents and Sloane Offer Weber Dern. The Firebug podcast was produced in association with Sony Music Entertainment.
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