'The Secret History of Hollywood' Podcast is Becoming a Movie – Here's Why This is Cool News
I stumbled across Adam Roche‘s The Secret History of Hollywood podcast back in 2017, and it quickly became one of my favorite podcasts of all time. Roche has explored different Hollywood figures over the course of multiple seasons, painting incredibly vivid pictures of people like Alfred Hitchcock, Cary Grant, James Cagney, and more through highly entertaining, immersive narrative episodes which are all heavily researched and wonderfully performed.
Roche writes, narrates, and produces each of the episodes, some of which are spectacularly long (occasionally running as long as nine to twelve hours). Now all of that work has paid off, because New Republic Pictures and writer/producer Laeta Kalogridis (Shutter Island, Altered Carbon) have scooped up the film and television rights to all eleven existing seasons of The Secret History of Hollywood, as well any future seasons of the podcast.
First on the development slate is a film adaptation of Shadows, a recent season Roche produced about producer Val Lewton, “a gifted immigrant producer who began his Hollywood career as the right-hand man of David O. Selznick, and who rescued the fortunes of RKO Studios by devising a revolutionary approach to horror movies – defying the conventional schlock formula to create a brooding, artistic body of work that has gone on to inspire and influence cinema ever since.”
Why I’m Excited
Deadline reports that Kalogridis and New Republic Pictures president Bradley Fischer plan to “approach the podcast as individual seasons and will develop each story as its own piece of IP,” meaning we could get a movie based on the rise of the Warner Brothers into studio icons, and later see a television series about the life of Audrey Hepburn. Roche himself will be involved as an executive producer and creative consultant, which I’m happy about – knowing that he’s still on board and not just having his passion project purchased and yanked away gives me hope that the quality and integrity of the podcast will be preserved in these adaptations.
Here’s the full list of podcast seasons, all of which can be mined for film or TV purposes:
Season 1 – The Game Is Afoot – The story of Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, their legendary Sherlock Holmes film series, and the real life friendship that bound them together.
Season 2 – Sex In Monochrome – A guide through Hollywood’s infamous “pre-code” era, a time when even the wildest risks were being taken by a lawless industry bound only by the limits of its imagination.
Season 3 – Hunting Witches With Walt Disney – The tale of Hollywood’s civil war, when neighbour turned upon neighbour, led by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), and the ever-present threat of the blacklist…
Season 4 – A Universe Of Horrors – The complex tale of Hollywood’s most renowned horror franchise, the Universal Horrors, and the characters who brought to life the screen’s most iconic nightmares.
Season 5 – The Adventures Of Alfred Hitchcock – The life story of the 20th century’s most influential director – his triumphs and failures – and the complicated inner turmoil that helped, and hindered, his rise to the top.
Season 6 – Bullets And Blood – The story of the Warner Brothers – an immigrant family who escaped a violent beginning, and arrived penniless in America, only to conquer its newest and most lucrative art form.
Season 7 – Audrey: The Girl Before The Girl – The life of Audrey Hepburn began not upon the screen, but amid a world torn apart by the storm of war, and alongside the legacy of a dark family secret.
Season 8 – Death On Alvarado Street – Exploring the mystifying, twisted true-life 1920’s murder case of William Desmond Taylor – including the many suspects and motives, as well as the real investigation into the crime by one Hollywood’s own…
Season 9 – Cary – The extraordinary story of Archie Leach, known to the world as Cary Grant, which began with a boy from broken beginnings who found his way to the heavens of Hollywood itself.
Season 10 – Queens Of Cinema – Illuminating the lives and times of the pioneering women behind cinema history’s more innovative and inspiring chapters.
Why I’m Slightly Worried
One of the greatest aspects of the podcast is the exceptional length of its episodes – something I know has the potential to make listeners raise an eyebrow. But once you get over the mental barrier of listening to a nine hour episode and actually press play, Roche completely sucks you into his storytelling world and makes you feel like you never want the episodes to end. Spending so many hours with the subjects of these episodes allows listeners to build a deep emotional connection to their journeys, and that type of connection will be incredibly difficult to replicate in just a two-hour runtime in a movie. So while I’m genuinely thrilled about this news, I must admit the decision to adapt Shadows into a film right off the bat gives me a little bit of hesitation, because I feel like all of these stories need lots of breathing room to make that connection as strong as possible.
Still, at the end of the day, this is a good problem to have – and hopefully it will inspire people to go back and listen to the podcast while we all wait for these adaptations to make their way to the big and small screens.
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