Limited anthology series to focus on major American cult personas
A&E Network, Academy Award and Golden Globe nominee Jake Gyllenhaal (End of Watch, Nightcrawler, Southpaw), Nine Stories Productions and A+E Studios (“UnREAL,” “Roots”) are partnering on the premium series development of an anthology that will explore the world of a different major American cult persona and the provocative nature of belief each season. The announcement was made today by Elaine Frontain Bryant, Executive Vice President and Head of Programming, for A&E.
Executive produced by Gyllenhaal and Riva Marker (Beasts of No Nation, The Kids Are All Right) and produced by their company Nine Stories Productions in association with A+E Studios, the series’ inaugural season would focus on the notorious story of Jim Jones and his cult The Peoples Temple of the Disciples of Christ. The series would chronicle Jones’ path from social leader and passionate integrationist to deranged spiritual dictator to a group of followers committed to his dangerous philosophy of faith. As Jones’ mental health began to unravel, growth of his flock, power and influence resulted in increased scrutiny from the media and authorities, forcing him to move his California-based congregation to Guyana to create the eponymous infamous Jonestown commune. There, in 1978, they lost their lives in a mass murder/suicide organized by Jones himself, resulting in the deaths of more than 900 people, including over 300 children, United States Congressman Leo Ryan and several journalists, becoming one of the largest single losses of American civilian lives in history.
“Riva and I founded Nine Stories to push creative limits, and have found a wonderful partner in A&E with this fascinating series,” Gyllenhaal stated. “Jim Jones is a complex character – one who has found his way into the collective unconscious. We want to focus on the undeniable magnatism of zealots and the danger of that kind of charisma. A notion not only pertinent to cult leaders but to the geo-political climate of today.”
A+E Networks will handle global sales for the series, which originated in development at A+E Studios last year. Other current series from A+E Studios include Lifetime’s critically-acclaimed drama “UnREAL,” which will return for a second season this year, and the major limited series event “Roots,” currently in production.