Starz has picked up anthology series Gaslit starring Julia Roberts and Sean Penn. Based on Slate’s award-winning podcast Slow Burn, Gaslit Season 1 will center on the story of Martha Mitchell, an Arkansas socialite who was the first person to publicly sound the alarm on President Richard Nixon’s role in the Watergate scandal.
According to Starz’s official description, Gaslit “is a modern take on Watergate that focuses on the untold stories and forgotten characters of the scandal — from Nixon’s bumbling, opportunistic subordinates, to the deranged zealots aiding and abetting their crimes, to the tragic whistleblowers who would eventually bring the whole rotten enterprise crashing down.”
Roberts will star as Martha Mitchell, the wife of Nixon’s Attorney General John Mitchell, played by Penn. When Martha catches wind of Nixon’s involvement in Watergate, she becomes the first person to publicly speak up, sending her personal and public life spiraling. Before long, John — Nixon’s best friend and most trusted advisor — is forced to choose between his wife and the president, a decision that, as we now know, has profound political consequences.
Gaslit is produced as part of Starz’s #TakeTheLead initiative, a comprehensive effort to deepen the company’s existing commitment to narratives by, for, and about women and underrepresented groups.
The new anthology will be directed and executive produced by Matt Ross (Captain Fantastic) and showrun by Robbie Pickering (Mr. Robot, Search Party). UCP will produce, with Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail and Chad Hamilton serving as executive producers under their Esmail Corp. banner. In addition to starring, Julia Roberts will executive produce (under her Red Om Films banner) alongside co-EPs Lisa Gillian and Marisa Yeres Gill. Anonymous Content and Slate’s Gabriel Roth and Josh Levin will also executive produce. Leon Nayfakh, who created the podcast, will consult on the project.
“In Gaslit, we not only have the opportunity to tell an incredible untold story in bringing Martha Mitchell’s historic role in Watergate to the forefront, but we are also incredibly lucky to have a dream cast including Julia and Sean and the best creative team and partners we could have asked for,” said Christina Davis, President of Original Programming for Starz, in a statement. “We could not be more excited to bring this story to the global Starz audience and continue the network’s commitment to spotlighting premium stories that appeal to women while super serving our core audience.”
“I’m so happy to have the opportunity to share the heartbreaking, fascinating story of Martha Mitchell with the world,” added showrunner and executive producer Robbie Pickering. “Martha was the first and loudest voice to speak out against the bumbling criminality of a crooked Presidential administration and she was one of the most complicated public martyrs of the era. To find anyone willing to tell her story is a dream. To be making it with Sam, Julia, Sean, Matt, UCP and Starz seems impossible. I’m over the moon.”
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