EXCLUSIVE: Former MGM film boss Jonathan Glickman is getting into the podcast space and has struck a co-production deal with iHeartMedia for a series of music-driven shows.
Glickman, who recently oversaw James Bond feature No Time To Die, has signed the deal with the podcast publisher via his company Glickmania Media, whose credits including Aretha Franklin biopic Respect and Netflix’s upcoming Addams Family series Wednesday.
The new venture will produce four shows across two years including a Schoolhouse Rock-style family show and a horror musical featuring Stranger Things’ Maya Hawke.
The deal includes Unsung, which has been created in partnership with Story Pirates, Diane’s Inferno, starring Hawke and Yungblud, disco-themed murder mystery Lost You On The Dance Floor and true-crime anthology series Ballad Of An Outlaw about the 1981 attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan.
Glickman (left) told Deadline that he is a big fan of the podcast medium, going back 15 years downloading RSS feeds. It also combines that with his love of concept albums such as Tommy, The Wall and Jesus Christ Superstar to tell stories through music.
The way the venture is set up allows Glickman to share rights with talent – a model that he worked on during his days running MGM’s Motion Picture Group.
“I’m using the model that I saw work so well at MGM, the United Artists model of [allowing] these creative partners to own the underlying rights with me and not just in the podcast space, but through the life of the franchise,” he said. “Talent deserves that participation and it will make it a better story.”
Unsung will be its first show and Glickman describes as it as Schoolhouse Rock meets Hamilton. Each episode will use hip-hop-driven tracks to create mini-musicals telling the stories of under-celebrated heroes across all fields including leaders in science, sports, and the arts and those who made a difference through social change. Stories will be told about the likes of tennis player Althea Gibson, early Space Exploration pioneer Mary G. Ross and musician Sister Rosetta Tharpe.
“We’ll have known experts in the fields talking to kids about these unsung heroes as well as original songs appearing in each episode. In 25 years, when people are studying athletes of history, we want people to know Althea Gibson from a song that will last in the way that people asking questions about the constitution are still singing ‘I’m Just a Bill’,” he added.
Diane’s Inferno is a gender-flipped, horror musical retelling of Dante’s Inferno, set through the modern hellscape of New York’s underworld. Written and directed by Lisa Duva, who recently wrote the script for Hound that’s set up at Searchlight with Zoey Deutch to star, it follows Diane, voiced by Hawke, a backup singer who crosses the East River, takes the H Train, and fights demons as she seeks vengeance on the killer of her rock star boyfriend, voiced by singer-songwriter Yungblud.
Producer Zach Dawes, who has worked with the likes of Lana Del Rey and Arctic Monkeys, will oversee the music created for the Rocky Horror meets The Warriors musical.
Lost You On The Dance Floor is a murder mystery set against the rise and fall of the 1970s Disco era. Written by journalist Matt Diehl, whose book Notorious C.O.P. is being developed into a TV show produced by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, it tells the story of a woman who discovers that her biological father was actually a legendary music impresario who vanished under a cloud of suspicion. Glickman says it’s set in the “ersatz” disco world where “John Travolta exists but Saturday Night Fever doesn’t”.
Finally, Ballad of an Outlaw is a true crime anthology series that will begin by delving into the 1981 attempt on President Ronald Reagan’s life through an examination of John Hinckley Jr.’s music therapy sessions in a psychiatric hospital. It was created by journalist Jonathan Bernstein and composer Robbie Roth and will feature original music composed by Roth.
The slate will be co-produced by Glickmania Media and iHeartRadio and will be distributed by the iHeartPodcast Network. Executive producers for Unsung are Benjamin Salka, Lee Overtree, and Jonathan Glickman; for Diane’s Inferno are Glickman and Molly Mankiewicz; for Lost You On The Dance Floor are Glickman and Matt Diehl; and for Ballad of an Outlaw are Glickman, Jonathan Ezra and Robbie Roth and Helena Budnik. Matthew Frederick and Alex Williams will executive produce the full slate of shows for iHeartRadio. CAA brokered the deal on behalf of Glickmania.
“Glickman is a name that is synonymous with developing some of the most creative and compelling IP in the entertainment space,” added Conal Byrne, CEO of iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group. “They know how to tell stories in totally new ways – and those are the creators we love to support. We are excited to join forces with Glickmania Media to introduce this innovative, music-first slate of podcasts to millions of listeners across the globe.”