EXCLUSIVE: The elaborate escape of former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn as he awaited trial on charges of financial misconduct in Japan made international headlines earlier this year. Now the alleged architect of that escape, private security operative Michael Taylor, is the subject of a feature-length film and television series, developed in tandem by Sam Rockwell, writer Davey Holmes, Vanity Fair Studios and MGM/UA TV where the Rockwell’s production banner Play Hooky has a first-look deal.
Rockwell is attached to star as Taylor in the feature film, which will tell the story of Ghosn’s harrowing escape. He will also executive produce the feature and the TV series, along with his Play Hooky producing partner Mark Berger. Rockwell will not star in the series, which will focus on a younger Taylor and how he got involved in private security jobs after he left the military.
Davey Holmes, who developed for television and executive produced MGM TV’s Epix TV series Get Shorty, will write and executive produce both the feature and series, inspired by May Jeong’s July 2020 Vanity Fair article (you can read it here).
MGM/UA TV, the studio on both projects, plans to take them out to the streaming marketplace in 2021. The major streamers are increasingly looking to build crossover universes with films and TV series in the same franchise.
Taylor, an former elite member of the Special Forces reduced to selling vitamin water, was allegedly contracted to devise an elaborate escape plan for a client, revealed to be the world-renowned businessman Ghosn, who was facing charges of financial crimes in Japan. Taylor, with the help of his son, rescued Ghosn and returned to the U.S. believing he had performed a patriotic duty, but was quickly arrested for his actions and is now fighting extradition to Japan. The VF story chronicles the intricate escape, and Taylor’s subsequent battles within the U.S. government’s various channels as well as his own internal struggle realizing that he may have unwittingly committed an international crime of epic scope.
“Michael Taylor’s life reads like it could have been pulled from the pages of a bestselling action thriller,” said Steve Stark, president of MGM/UA TV. “From his high-stakes operations as a private security specialist, to his life before in the U.S. Special Forces, Michael has an unbelievable story and we can’t wait to dive in further with Sam, Mark, Davey and Vanity Fair Studios by our side.”
Stacey Levin, Max Kisbye and Rob Hochberg will oversee the projects at MGM/UA TV.
Rockwell won a best supporting actor Oscar for his performance in 2017’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. He was recently seen in Clint Eastwood’s Richard Jewell and also recently voiced the title character in Disney’s The One and Only Ivan. On the TV side, he received an Emmy nomination for his portrayal of legendary choreographer and director Bob Fosse in FX’s Fosse/Verdon.
“We are so excited to have the opportunity to dig into the life of Michael Taylor — as a movie and a series,” Play Hooky said in a statement. “This story and his life are complex, human and exciting. With Davey writing, and MGM/UA TV and Vanity Fair Studios, we have an extraordinary team to take this on.”