Leading independent podcast studio Audio Up has reunited with James Ellroy, “the Demon Dog of American Literature,” to adapt his seminal novel of historical fiction, American Tabloid, into a 12-episode scripted series. The book, which forms the basis of his Underworld USA Trilogy, tells the fictional story of JFK’s murder from the point of view of those who killed him. The cast of characters is a rogue’s gallery of bloodthirsty Cuban exiles, rogue CIA operatives, mafia killers, pimps, shakedown men and FBI agents all chasing money, sex and power. The book blasts a bullet hole into the myth of American innocence and hope that pervaded the Eisenhower years and was exemplified by Kennedy’s Camelot. In Ellroy’s hands JFK is transmogrified into “Bad Back Jack,” an underhung playboy with a penchant for call girls, amphetamines, and the power derived from his father’s money. It’s RFK, in Ellroy’s telling, who is the moral center, but seals his brother’s fate and that of the family by chasing the mob and Jimmy Hoffa. Inserted into this milieu is a morphine addicted Howard Hughes, J. Edgar Hoover, the Chicago Outfit and a low- rent Twist queen who becomes their ticket to blackmail. They all converge in Dallas to rub up against History and watch the world spin. This is American history torched, and served up a la carte as the truth.
QUOTE FROM JAMES ELLROY
American Tabloid has been lauded over the years as Ellroy’s masterwork of historical fiction, and has taken on near mythical status alongside Don Delillo’s Libra as the best of the genre. But its massive scope and ambition has long eluded Hollywood in their attempts to tame and adapt the book. The list of suitors who have attempted to make American Tabloid, only to be defeated includes David Fincher, Bruce Willis, Tom Hanks, and countless studios who were lured by the siren song of the book’s rat-a-tat-tat, Rat Pack allure, only to drown in the quicksand of the novel’s massive scope. It seemed largely “unadaptable” until podcasting made it viable once again. Now, Audio Up has stepped into the fray to bring American Tabloid to listeners worldwide.
“Audio is the perfect medium to deliver American Tabloid,” says Audio Up’s Chief Creative Officer, Jimmy Jellinek, who is set to adapt the series from the book alongside James Ellroy. We can build out the book’s massive internal world through sound. Traveling from the jungles of Guatemala to Castro’s Cuba, mid-century Chicago, Los Angeles, 1963 Dallas, and the Jim Crow south alongside these characters would be prohibitive – unless you were making a film on the scale of the first two Godfathers. Instead, we’re creating what may very well be the first true, scripted epic of the podcast era for what it would cost to feed the grips for half a day on one of these sets. When were finished you’ll hopefully know we’re the HBO or 70’s Paramount of Audio, full stop. The fact that James has entrusted his legacy to Audio Up is enormously gratifying and speaks volumes to the way we work with other people’s IP.”
American Tabloid will debut July 4th 2022, and will be executive produced by Audio Up’s Phil Alberstat, Jared Gutstadt and Jimmy Jellinek. Casting to begin immediately.