EXCLUSIVE: Amazon Studios has put in development Mastermind, a crime drama series based on Evan Ratliff’s critically praised book The Mastermind: Drugs. Empire. Murder. Betrayal., with the Russo brothers’ AGBO Films, Noah Hawley’s 26 Keys and Skybound Entertainment producing. Writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns (1917) is set to pen the adaptation.
Based on Ratliff’s book, Mastermind is the true-life story of Paul Le Roux, an unassuming former programmer who built a sophisticated globe-spanning criminal empire— the sheer volume and diversity of which authorities had never before encountered— until he was taken down by his own lieutenant and the DEA and became one of the biggest criminal informants in DEA and FBI history. The show follows Le Roux’s lieutenants as they compete for his power and affection, institute wild criminal schemes, and examine the nature of good and evil for each other in the process.
The script is based on Ratliff’s deep investigative reporting, which originally took the form of a seven-part Atavist Magazine article, that he later expanded into the book, which was sold to Random House in a bidding war and was published in early 2019.
Skybound Entertainment’s Rick Jacobs and Sean and Bryan Furst will executive produce along with Noah Hawley and Dan Seligman for 26 Keys and Anthony Russo, Joe Russo, Mike Larocca and Lindsay Dunn for AGBO.
Wilson-Cairns co-wrote the screenplays for Amblin/Universal’s awards season contender 1917, directed by Sam Mendes. She also co-penned the screenplays for Focus Features’ Last Night in Soho, directed by Edgar Wright and The Good Nurse, starring Jessica Chastain and Eddie Redmayne, for Protozoa, Lionsgate and Bron. Wilson-Cairns also worked with Mendes on UK series Prophets.
Ratliff is an award-winning journalist whose writing appears in Wired, The New Yorker, and other magazines. He was the co-founder and editor in chief of Atavist and The Atavist Magazine, acquired by Automattic in 2018. He also co-hosts the acclaimed Longform Podcast, and was the founding story editor of Pop-Up Magazine.