The minds behind Making a Murderer, Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos, are working on an adaptation of the serialized Huffington Post article “America’s Most Admired Lawbreaker.”
The article, written by Steven Brill in the fall of 2015, reported the story of how Johnson & Johnson created and sold a strong antipsychotic drug. The company targeted children and the elderly as customers, withholding information about the drug’s awful side effects. After legal action was taken against Johnson & Johnson, a two billion-dollar settlement was reached, although the company had already sold $30 billion of the medication worldwide.
The project is being done under Smokehouse Pictures, an independent studio half-owned by George Clooney, as the first to come from a partnership between Smokehouse and Sonar Entertainment. Clooney and Smokehouse partner actor/director Grant Heslov have been working on getting traction in the small-screen business, having helped produced acclaimed films like Argo and August: Osage County. They already have a miniseries for HBO in the works called Ms. about Gloria Steinem and Ms. Magazine.
Demos and Ricciardi are adapting the article, which consists of 15 chapters, with Nick Paluga, who was previously a producer on ABC’s Resurrection. Demos and Ricciardi will also direct. The Los Angeles Times published an interview today of the filmmaking pair on the pop-culture explosion that is Making A Murderer. It was a project they worked on for 10 years, starting the process when they were still graduate students in film school.
America’s Most Admired Lawbreaker is likely to challenge the legal system as much as Making A Murderer did. Said Ricciardi in the interview: “what we’re really taking on in the series is the role of truth and justice in the American criminal justice system.”
Not only was the series highly binged-upon, it also sparked serious conversation about justice. Jerry Buting and Dean Strang, Steven Avery’s defense attorneys, were so inspired by the public’s response that they set out on a tour around the country to speak about the trial and the American justice system in general. The tour is about half over, but you can see a complete list of dates and read more about it here.