EXCLUSIVE: The San Francisco Chronicle, UK production company Ugly Duckling Films and Sony Music Entertainment are partnering to develop the first narrative podcast project from the Chronicle, a new true crime series called The Doodler.
The podcast will tell the story of the ongoing hunt for the notorious serial killer known as the “Doodler” who targeted San Francisco’s closeted gay community in the 1970s and is suspected to have murdered up to 14 people.
Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-nominated Chronicle reporter Kevin Fagan and the paper’s longtime investigative reporter Michael Taylor, with contributions from King Kaufman, The Doodler will investigate the perplexing cold case and the anonymous killer named for the skilled drawings of his victims.
In some corners there is belief that the killer is still alive and residing in the Bay Area. The investigation gained new momentum in 2019 after the San Francisco Police Department released a sketch of what the killer may look like today and offered a $100,000 reward for details leading to his capture.
Fagan, in collaboration with Taylor, will pick up the trail of the “Doodler” and aim to uncover new leads into finding the murderer. As part of their investigation, the production team has created an anonymous tip line for anyone with information about the case. Tips can be submitted by calling 415-570-9299 or via thedoodlerpod.com.
The audio series is being produced by the San Francisco Chronicle and Ugly Duckling Films in association with podcast production firm Neon Hum and is set for release in 2021. Sony Music Entertainment will provide marketing and funding. UK production firm Ugly Duckling will retain screen rights.
As we reported last year, Ugly Duckling, whose films include 2013 sci-fi Coherence, Lena Headey-starrer The Broken and 2020 pic The Bike Thief, has been in development on a TV project inspired by the Doodler case called We Are Your Children.
“We were so surprised to hear that the “Doodler” was not well-known despite the monstrosity of his crimes,” said Ugly Duckling Films founder Lene Bausager and producer Sophia Gibber. “This takes place at a time where homosexuality had just been taken off the list of psychiatric disorders, a year just before women were allowed to become full police officers, and at the heart of the case, leading it from the offset, was the first black homicide investigator – all aspects of the case which couldn’t be more relevant with today’s landscape.”
“Press, including the San Francisco Chronicle, barely acknowledged the case,” Fagan commented. “This is a way of rectifying such silence and finding justice for the victims and the LGBT community. Our main objective? To find the Doodler.”
Tom Mackay, President, Premium Content A&R, Sony Music Entertainment added: “We are excited to pair the production strength of Neon Hum and Ugly Duckling Films with the journalistic expertise of the San Francisco Chronicle to dig into this shocking story and shed new light on the truth behind this case.”
As seen in David Fincher movie Zodiac, the Chronicle is well known for its investigations into the Zodiac Killer, who sent 17 letters to the paper during the 1970s.
Ugly Duckling was represented by Travis Dunlop of WME and Randy Paul.