In the past couple of years, Texas Monthly has worked to bring to other platforms the same vivid storytelling that we’ve long delivered through the written word. We’ve created podcasts, launched video series, and even set our sights on Hollywood. I’m pleased to report that those efforts are paying off. Thanks to the talents of our editorial staff, the leadership of new story platforms editor Megan Creydt, the support of TM president Scott Brown, and the efforts of our friends at Creative Artists Agency, we have more than a dozen series and feature films in development. I’d like to tell you about a few of those.
Senior editor Wes Ferguson wrote a moving story last November about the staging of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America in Wes’s East Texas hometown of Kilgore and the uproar that ensued. That piece is now being developed as a limited series by a group that includes Modern Family actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson; producers Bob Greenblatt (the former chairman of NBC Entertainment and WarnerMedia Entertainment), Bruce Cohen (who won an Oscar for American Beauty), Craig Gartner, and Scott Delman; and Danish writer/showrunner Christian Torpe, whose award-winning series Rita is on its way to the States.
Fox Broadcasting Company is developing a comedy series based on David Courtney’s Texanist column. The project will be produced by Gail Berman and penned by former Cheers writer and veteran producer Rob Long. Signed on to star is Thomas Haden Church, who is no stranger to our magazine—he grew up in Texas, lives on a ranch in the Hill Country, and appeared on our April 2005 cover.
You may have heard of a private zoo owner who dubbed himself Joe Exotic whose affection for big cats, tattoos, and assault weapons made him the star of a Netflix documentary. Our own Leif Reigstad’s feature story on Mr. Exotic, published in our June 2019 issue, is the basis for a limited series in development at Amazon—with Nicolas Cage signed on to play the lead. The project is in the works at CBS Productions, with the involvement of producers Brian Grazer and Paul Young, along with American Vandal writer and showrunner Dan Lagana.
PatMa Productions, CBS Productions, and writer/showrunner Hilary Bettis have teamed up to tell the story of Priscilla Villarreal, a.k.a. Lagordiloca, who cruises Laredo at night, live-streaming video of crime scenes to her tens of thousands of Facebook followers. Reigstad profiled her for Texas Monthly in 2018. PatMa and CBS are combining that story with a recent Skip Hollandsworth piece on a Border Patrol serial killer in the same city.
Things are going very well on the podcast front too. In October, our two latest projects made impressive showings in Apple’s podcast rankings: Tom Brown’s Body, narrated by Skip, reached number eight in the overall Top Shows chart, and senior editor John Spong’s One by Willie hit number one on the Music chart. Christian Wallace’s Boomtown podcast, about the West Texas oil patch, which we produced in collaboration with Imperative Entertainment, is in development as a series on the Paramount Network, with the involvement of Taylor Sheridan, the Texan creator of Paramount’s popular Yellowstone series and the writer behind the movies Hell or High Water and Sicario.
These are just a few of the entertainment projects that we have in the works. We’re thrilled that the great storytelling we publish in the print magazine, on our website, and through our podcasts is finding new and bigger audiences. Hollywood’s enthusiasm for these stories is a testament to our staff’s creativity and hard work—and to the fascinating characters and tales that this state produces in abundance.