EXCLUSIVE: NXIVM has been making headlines the past few weeks with the high-profile arrests of founder Keith Raniere and one of his top lieutenants, Smallville actress Allison Mack, on charges of sex trafficking as the so called self-help organization has been called by prosecutors a sex cult that has been keeping women as “slaves,” and branding them with Raniere’s initials.
One of those branded women is Canadian actress Sarah Edmondson (Psych, Edgemont) who last fall became the first to speak out about the alleged abuse after a decade inside NXIVM along with her husband, Anthony Ames, a fellow actor and former Ivy-League Quarterback.
Edmondson and Ames are now slated to headline a documentary TV series. Set against the ongoing legal drama involving the leaders of NXIVM, the series will follow the duo as they, under the guidance of renowned cult expert and deprogrammer Rick Alan Ross, head of the Cult Education Institute, work to reacclimate into society while also helping others (many of whom they had recruited) leave NXIVM and the DOS secret society within it, which the U.S. Attorney’s Office said operated with levels of women “slaves” headed by “masters.”
Edmondson executive produces the series with Brian Graden Media’s Brian Graden and Dave Mace, as well as Bill Thompson (Teamsters). Ames and Ross, author of the book Cults Inside Out: How People Get In and Can Get Out, will produce.
The series has been developed by Thompson and Jeffrey Wank, SVP of Development at Brian Graden Media. It is expected to be taken out to cable and premium networks shortly.
Graden, former MTV president of entertainment, said he has been a big fan of the Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath docu series on A&E. “What we found compelling (about the Sarah Edmondson story) is that it’s incredibly fresh; she and her husband are just out of the cult,” Graden said, noting that the A&E series often explores the stories of former scientologists who had left the church 5-10 years ago. He was impressed by Edmondson and Ames’ desire to help others, “while going through their own recovery which is just beginning.”
Some footage already has been shot for the series, which will follow Edmondson and Ames’ journey as well as look back at their experience at NXIVM and keep up with the ongoing litigation against the organization. Edmondson and Ames will likely be asked to testify as the legal proceedings progress. (Mack yesterday was released on a $5 million bond.)
With the Sarah Edmondson series, Brian Graden Media is staying in the docu series space following the success of the company’s six-part Oxygen true crime documentary The Disappearance of Natalie Holloway. At MTV, Graden developed and launched the 1998 documentary series True Life, which tackled such provocative topics as drug use, money issues, parental problems, phobias, sexual proclivities, and unique romantic relationships. He also oversaw countless music-based documentaries for MTV and VH1, such as Behind the Music and VH1 Rock Docs.
BGM, which launched in 2013, has delivered 17 seasons of television and won an Emmy for Pivot’s HITRecord. The company is repped by WME. Edmonson is repped by Verve. Ross is repped by Foundry Media.
Dynasty star Catherine Oxenberg has a book, Captive: A Mother’s Crusade to Save Her Daughter From a Terrifying Cult, that chronicles her efforts to get her daughter to leave NXIVM. It is the basis of a documentary, now in the works.