The arrest and subsequent, sudden death of Jeffrey Epstein—high-profile financier, convicted sex offender, and friend/aeronautical chauffeur to some of the most powerful people on the planet—entered the realm of internet conspiracy theory legend roughly 0 seconds after Epstein (reportedly, but let’s just go with it for the purposes of this article) took his own life in a New York jail cell back in August. Epstein’s life sits at an irresistible intersection between wealth, power, access, and criminal and debauched abuses of the same, and so it’s inevitable that his life and death would become the subject of not just speculation, but also film and TV projects—and that Adam McKay would probably be somewhere in that mix.
The Anchorman director has, after all, spent the last decade or so recrafting himself as a sort of second-wave, non-documentarian Michael Moore, creating films like The Big Short and Vice (and, to a much lesser extent, his financially focused Will Ferrell/Mark Wahlberg comedy The Other Guys) to try to explain the vortex of greed, shortsightedness, and pure dumb luck that got us from there to here. (Whichever politically apocalyptic version of “here” you might happen to think we’re currently at.) And so it’s not wholly surprising to see THR report today that McKay is launching a limited TV series about Epstein at HBO, where he already executive produces Jesse Armstrong’s own examination of those same swirling factors, Succession.
The Epstein series is reportedly part of a larger first-look deal McKay has just signed with the network, which will give HBO first dibs on any projects the director develops for TV over the next five years. The show will be based specifically on an upcoming book by Miami Herald reporter Julie K. Brown, who helped spur renewed interest in the charges against Epstein—and, consequently, played a major part in his eventual arrest on sex trafficking charges.
The HBO series is the most developed-to-date of the various takes on Epstein’s life—which included high-profile friendships, private plane rides, and parties with people ranging from Bill Clinton to Donald Trump to Simpsons creator Matt Groening, plus dozens of other famous and powerful people besides. SonyTV has optioned Conchita Sarnoff’s book TrafficKing for its own take, while Patricia Heaton is reportedly working on a scripted series also based off of some of Brown’s reporting. Meanwhile, Lifetime is working on its own version of this whole messy situation, Surviving Jeffrey Epstein.