Exclusive IP Pick🔎: A Town Corrupted by the Promise of Pot Riches
The criminality that nearly destroyed California's first city to pass legalized weed farming is chronicled in Crooked Media's 'Dreamtown: The Story of Adelanto'
I have a treat this morning: An exclusive look at Dreamtown: The Story of Adelanto, a new podcast from Crooked Media and David Weinberg (Superhero Complex), dropping in early June, which could be the basis for a scripted adaptation.
Dreamtown is an eight-part series on a hardscrabble Mojave Desert town that became the first place in California to legalize marijuana cultivation, seeking to diversify and expand its economy beyond the local prison that was previously its main business. In reality, it was a shit show — corruption, bribery and FBI raids that almost destroyed the town.
There's a lot of interesting stories to mine from the legalization of marijuana — Sylvester Stallone's Tulsa King, which just finished its first season, is just one example. We also just learned that a Weeds reboot is in the works. Dreamtown has the added bonus of being a true story.
I've listened to the first two episodes of Dreamtown and it’s great. The story has a quirky and compelling cast of characters that includes Johnny “Bug” Woodard, Jr., a Tea Party-loving hippie and rock band manager who wins a city council seat in an upset by running on the marijuana cultivation plan. Add to that wads of cash and weed, corruption and a murdered Russian oligarch. Plus, there’s an inspiring back half about the devoted local citizens who tried to pick up the pieces after the disaster. It's fascinating and fun.
There’s an added layer here about our corroded public sphere and the pitched battles taking place in local politics as far-right ideologues have been working to take over what has generally been non-partisan small-town governments. I was struck by how much this one story speaks to so much that's going on in our politics today.
Sarah Geismer, Crooked Media's head of production and development, nails it right on the head when she says in a press release, "Dreamtown has it all: drama, politics, scandal, and a highly eccentric cast of characters that’s sure to be the buzz of summer." No surprise that the Crooked Media team — founders Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett and Tommy Vietor got their start working in the Obama White House — would find a story that sits perfectly at the intersection of entertainment and the political-cultural moment.
Weinberg, who has been following the story for some seven years calls it "one of the wildest stories I’ve ever encountered," which is saying something coming from the guy who brought you the Superhero Complex podcast about Phoenix Jones, the Seattle resident who dressed up like a superhero to fight crime, which is under development at NBC.
You can listen to the trailer for the limited series here:
The first two episodes get their official premiere June 7 in New York at the Tribeca Festival, where it is an Official Audio Selection. After that, the remaining six episodes drop weekly on Wednesdays. Last year, Crooked's Mother Country Radicals, about the Weather Underground, won the Festival's top audio honors.
Dreamtown is just the latest effort from Crooked Media, which has launched some 30 podcasts and digital series since its founding in 2017. Crooked is probably best-known for its flagship Pod Save America show, which Favreau, Lovett and Vietor started after Donald Trump won the presidency. All told, Crooked's slate generates more than 22 million monthly downloads.
Other Crooked Media offerings worth considering for development (and whose rights are also available) include Stiffed, a podcast about the ’70s erotic feminist magazine Viva, and Mobility, the first novel from its new Crooked Media Reads publishing imprint.
The company has been moving to develop shows in the scripted space as well. Its Wind of Change pod series by Patrick Radden Keefe about how the German heavy metal song of the same name helped bring an end to the Cold War is under development for Hulu, with actor/writer Alex Karpovsky (Girls) on board to write and produce.
Rights to Dreamtown: The Story of Adelanto are available. Inquiries can be directed to Geismer.
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