EXCLUSIVE: A controversial shooting in Belize by the daughter-in-law of British Conservative donor Lord Michael Ashcroft is to be the subject of an interesting new project from Will Gluck and Campside Media, the company behind the hot Chameleon: Hollywood Con Queen podcast.
The Peter Rabbit writer/director and the Sister-backed producer are working together on a docuseries podcast and a scripted TV series. However, instead of Campside making the podcast and then optioning the rights down the line, they are working with Gluck from the start.
It marks an interesting new frontier in the audio space and how it is being used to create TV and film adaptations.
It comes after Gluck, via his Olive Bridge Entertainment banner, eOne, Atlas Entertainment, Circle of Confusion and Campside began developing two projects based on the Chameleon: Hollywood Con Queen podcast – a scripted series and an unscripted docuseries.
The new story, which is described as “Succession set in the Caribbean and with a mysterious murder investigation at the center”, follows the story of Jasmine Hartin and Henry Jemmott.
Hartin, who is the partner of, and has two children with, Andrew Ashcroft, whose father Lord Michael Aschroft is arguably the most powerful man in Belize — a British-born billionaire who set up operations in his adopted country and built an empire.
She has been accused and charged with accidentally shooting dead Jemmott, a senior police officer after going for a walk and sitting together on a dock at a beach resort, late at night, after Covid curfew.
Hartin’s story was that it was an accident but the hows and whys remain a mystery, and Hartin was recently released on bail.
Campside, which was set up by long-form journalists Josh Dean, Vanessa Grigoriadias, Matt Shaer, and screenwriter/producer Adam Hoff in partnership with Chernobyl producer Sister, are producing the podcast series.
However, Dean and Gluck will collaborate from the start. Dean will run the podcast and the reporting, but Gluck will be closely involved in the project, and will appear on the podcast himself.
“The minute Will sent me a link to a story about this,” said Dean, “I knew we had to jump on it. We’ve been looking for the opportunity to make a multi-season nonfiction narrative podcast, and I think we may finally have found the right story to try that with.”
The hope is that both projects will tell the true-crime saga and also explore how an empire was formed in a foreign land, as well as what someone like Ashcroft must do to hold it all together. “This feels like Succession if you pumped it full of offshore banking, foreign jurisdictions, homicide, imperialism, and British accents,” said Gluck.
“Here you have this guy running basically an entire country in the shadows – and then overnight, this shocking, racially tinged shooting brings all this press and scrutiny, ” added Dean. “I had gone my entire life without knowing one thing about Lord Ashcroft and now I can’t stop reading about the guy, and about Belize at large.”
Podcasts have become a Hollywood goldmine with hundreds in various stages of development for film and TV adaptations, to build on the success of shows such as Homecoming and Dirty John.
This deal marks an interesting new trend for podcast companies to begin working with showrunners, writers and directors from the off.
“People always assume the arrival of Hollywood means something cynical,” said Campside co-founder Adam Hoff. “However, what you really have are all these talented people who must clear an extremely high bar in television bringing new and exciting ideas to audio. Will and Josh together are exactly the kind of team you want in the creation and the potential adaptation of your podcast, this way the non-fiction reporting can work hand-in-hand with narrative storytelling from the outset.”
UTA brokered the deal between Campside and Olive Bridge.