Nina Tassler & Denise Di Novi’s PatMa Options ‘Cold’ Podcast About Susan Powell Case For Series Development

PatMa Productions; Cliff Lipson/CBS

EXCLUSIVE: Nina Tassler and Denise Di Novi’s PatMa Productions’ has optioned podcast Cold from KSL to develop into a TV series that tackles the issue of domestic abuse.

Cold chronicles the tragic circumstances surrounding the disappearance of a young Mormon wife and mother of two, Susan Powell.

Using actual case files, journal entries, and recordings, Cold examines Powell’s seemingly perfect marriage only to reveal harrowing details of domestic abuse. After deciding to escape the violence with her children, Susan suspiciously vanishes without explanation, without her children, in 2009 and remains missing to this day.

Her husband, who had been named a person of interest but never charged, subsequently killed himself and their young sons in a murder-suicide amid a custody dispute with Sudan’s parents.

Tassler, Di Novi, Joan Boorstein, Dave Cawley and KSL Podcasts will executive produce the project, possibly a limited series, which will be taken out to the marketplace shortly.

For Tassler and Di Novi, who launched PatMa in 2018 with a focus on amplifying diverse voices, Cold is “a very important story.”

“We know that this podcast has inspired people to speak up about domestic abuse, and in turn it is helping to save lives,” they said. “KSL Podcasts received hundreds of emails from women who were inspired by Susan’s story to leave their own domestic violence situations. We hope that by bringing this story to the screen and to a broader audience, it will do the same.”

The stats behind domestic abuse are staggering, and the coronavirus pandemic has further exacerbated the issue, making a project like Cold even more timely.

“More than one in three women and more than one in four men in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime,” Tassler and Di Novi said. “Home isolation, however vital to the fight against this pandemic, is giving still more power to the abuser and reports of increasing rates of domestic violence are surfacing around the world. Now more than ever, we feel it is important to raise awareness of all types of intimate partner violence and provide resources to those in need.” (The National Domestic Violence hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE).

The Cold podcast has over 38 million downloads to date, and over 35,000 reviews on Apple Podcasts with an overall 5-star rating.

“We had a lot of interest in Cold and were very selective in who we moved forward with as a partner,” said Tanya Vea, SVP, of KSL’s parent company Salt Lake City-based Bonneville International. “PatMa’s commitment to quality content and focus on issues was an important factor for us. They have an outstanding team, we are thrilled to work with them.”

KSL/Bonneville was repped in the deal by Paul Anderson of Workhouse Media and David Markman from DLA Piper.

Last year, CBS Corp. took an ownership stake in PatMa Productions, giving CBS platforms a first-look at PatMa programming, with CBS TV Studios co-financing and co-producing projects set up with these platforms. The first project under the new partnership is a limited series adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ 2017 novel, A Book of American Martyrs, set up for development at Showtime with Winnie Holzman and Savannah Dooley attached to pen the series.

The book, published by HarperCollins, is described as a moving portrait of two families whose lives collide when a politically charged act of violence rips both apart.

At CBS, PatMa has in contention drama pilot Ways & Means, starring Patrick Dempsey and produced by CBS TV Studios.

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