EXCLUSIVE: In a competitive situation, Thematic studios got the rights to Amanda Montellthe book Cult: the language of fanaticism for a television docu-series adaptation.
Published by Harper Wave in June 2021, Montell’s second book, after word bitch, dissects how cult groups from Jonestown and Scientology to SoulCycle and social media gurus use language as the ultimate form of power.
The docuseries will be a deep and timely dive into how cults maintain their power, by the producers. According to Montell, whose own father escaped from a cult as a teenager, “we thought about cults in a totally wrong way. While dark and dangerous cults have long existed (like the Manson Family), fanatical groups actually fall on a spectrum from Heaven’s Gate to SoulCycle and Taylor Swift stans. With an incisive, convincing and often funny tone, Worship will unpack what the cult’s influence looks, sounds and feels like, and how it permeates our daily lives.
The project will be led by Topic Studios Vice President of Nonfiction, Christine Connor. Carly Hugo and Matt Parker from without love brought the project to Topic Studios. Connor and Michael Bloom are executive producers for Topic Studios, along with Hugo and Parker.
Worship was named NPR’s Best Book of 2021 and was a Goodreads Choice Awards Top 5 finalist.
“We are delighted to work with both Amanda, whose wit and insight are just what this fascinating subject needs, and also with Loveless, whose creativity is matched only by their intelligence and ingenuity.” , Connor said.
“I learned from my father to notice the ‘sectarian’ influence in the air of the times,” Montell said. “In my book, I wrote about language, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle. I look forward to exploring other ingredients in the cult recipe, how they manifest in our daily lives, but also how they might help me understand my own family history. It will be a fun and informative ride that will leave everyone convinced they are part of some sort of “cult,” Montell said.
Topic Studios is also behind Chris Smith’s Emmy-winning surf series 100 foot wave, which was renewed for a second season on HBO; three-part series Nuclear family by Ry Russo-Young, also from HBO; Stanley Nelson and Traci A. Curry Penthouse on Showtime and Lizzie Gottlieb Turn every pageabout literary legends Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb, recently acquired by Sony Pictures Classics and in theaters December 30.