June 13, 2018
‘S-Town’ Podcast is Becoming a Movie from ‘Spotlight’ Director Tom McCarthy
After Serial become a podcast sensation, listeners were hungry for another story from This American Life that would keep them fascinated. Unfortunately, the second season of Serial didn’t deliver, but last spring brought us a worthy successor in the form of a podcast called S-Town. That podcast will now become a movie.
News of the S-Town movie was first reported at Deadline, who says Participant Media has the feature rights to the project, and they’re currently in talks with Spotlight director Tom McCarthy to take the helm of the feature. McCarthy will work from a script by playwright Samuel D. Hunter, who scripted stage productions such as A Bright New Boise and The Whale.
If you never caught on to the phenomenon of S-Town when it debuted last spring, it’s hard to explain the story without ruining some of the fascinating twists and turns that unfold. So we’ll just say that the podcast follows Brian Reed, a journalist who’s asked to investigate the son of a wealthy family that’s allegedly been bragging that he got away with murder in the small town of Woodstock, Alabama. The catalyst for this investigation is a man named John B. McLemore, whose life, habits, and behavior make the story that much more compelling. McLemore refers to Woodstock as S-Town, or Shit Town.
The mystery that unfolds in S-Town isn’t exactly the kind of mystery you’d expect, and that’s what makes it all the more fascinating. Adding to the compelling nature of the story is the town itself, a slice of Southern America full of colorful characters that make you feel like you’re in another world. In S-Town, there are family feuds, disputes over money, and seemingly danger and intrigue, but it doesn’t feel like the kind of story that will be easy to translate to the big screen.
After the subtle approach Tom McCarthy took to Spotlight by letting the story do the heavy lifting rather than overtaking the proceedings with too much style, he’s the perfect director to handle an S-Town movie. On top of that, since Samuel D. Hunter is best known for A Bright New Boise, a story that takes place in the break room of a craft store in a small town, this feels like the perfect pairing to let this story shine.
The question is who will play the compelling, rich, and unique character of John B. McLemore. It would have been a hell of a role for Daniel Day-Lewis to capture, but he’s apparently retired. It’s also a role that I could see Gary Oldman disappearing into, or maybe even a serious turn for someone like Jim Carrey. We’ll have to wait and see who Tom McCarthy finds for the role.
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