Vince Gilligan and Michelle MacLaren Team With Octavia Spencer For ‘Jonestown’ HBO Series
Okay, now here’s a bit of exciting news to end the week: Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan, director and producer Michelle MacLaren and Octavia Spencer are teaming up to develop a new project about the infamous Jonestown cult for HBO. The incredibly talented trio are joining forces to produce the limited series, with MacLaren also set to direct.
THR reports on the upcoming project, which reunites Gilligan with Breaking Bad director and producer Michelle MacLaren, who has since helmed episodes of Game of Thrones and David Simon’s upcoming ’70s porn drama series The Deuce, which is also at HBO. The Jonestown-centric limited series is based on the non-fiction book Raven: The Untold Story of Jim Jones and His People, written by journalist Tim Reiterman, who also survived the horrific 1978 event that occurred at Jonestown in Guyana.
As of now, Spencer is not attached to star in the series, though she is responsible for initially procuring the rights to Reiterman’s book. It’s also unclear if MacLaren will direct the entire limited series run, or only a handful of episodes (or how many episodes the series will contain). Gilligan will perform scripting duties in addition to executive producing.
Titled Raven, the limited series event will follow Jones and his followers from the idealistic beginnings of the Peoples Temple right through to its harrowing end, when a couple of members passed a desperate note to a visiting congressman, pleading for help. That note set off a chain of events that rapidly culminated in Jones urging — and convincing — hundreds of his followers to commit “revolutionary suicide.”
It remains one of U.S. history’s most horrific and mysterious events — which is why Gilligan’s project isn’t the only Jonestown story in development. A&E has partnered with Jake Gyllenhaal for a new anthology series about cults; the first season centers on Jim Jones. The Weinstein Company is also developing a limited cult series based on David Koresh, with Taylor Kitsch and Michael Shannon set to star.
Raven is the latest in a wave of crime and true crime dramas, joining previous HBO offerings The Jinx and The Night Of, and recent acclaimed series like The People v. O.J. Simpson and Making a Murderer.