Mad Men and The Morning Show actor Jon Hamm is partnering with Shawn Ryan, the producer of CBS’ SWAT and Netflix’s The Night Agent, for a live-action adaptation of the American Hostage podcast. The project hails from Ryan and Sony Pictures, with Hamm reprising his narrative role from the audio presentation.
According to The Hollywood Reporter‘s exclusive report, Sony describes American Hostage as a “psychological thriller that tells the harrowing true story of Fred Heckman, a beloved Indianapolis radio reporter who is thrust into the middle of a life-or-death crisis when hostage-taker, Tony Kiritsis, demands to be interviewed on his popular radio news program.”
Hamm plays Heckman in the adaptation co-written by Ryan and Eileen Myers. The duo completed scripting for the series before the writers’ strike, but Sony waited until now to send it to market. Ryan’s plans for the series go beyond the initial scripts, with ideas for an anthology featuring a different hostage every season being a possible angle.
“I grew up in the Midwest when this happened and never heard about it. The more research I did, the more I listened to the podcast, it’s just this incredible sequence of events,” Ryan told The Hollywood Reporter. “This idea of when a newsman goes from covering the news to being part of it — is it worth it to do that to save a life or two? — the ethical questions we’re addressing have a ton of resonance to the anger that exists in our country right now.”
Amazingly, both Myers’ parents worked for ABC News in the 1970s, giving her a unique insight into the scenario. Ryan says he could see American Hostage entering the entertainment arena as prestige TV, but it could also work as a modestly budgeted project. In addition to his starring role, Hamm executive produces alongside Ryan, Myers, Connie Tavel, and Ryan’s MiddKid partner Marney Hochman, with Criminal Content’s Shawn Christensen and Gabriel Mason.
Carla Gugino, Dylan Baker, and Joe Perrino contribute to the American Hostage podcast, though they are not currently involved in the live-action adaptation.
Have you listened to the American Hostage podcast? Do you know anyone who remembers the events unfolding in real-time? Let us know if you want to watch American Hostage in the comments below.