Universal Content Productions is doubling down on podcasting. The NBCUniversal-owned studio has launched UCP Audio, a podcast network set to launch in 2020 with three shows already cueing up for release. “We at UCP are excited about all the potential that lives in the audio space,” said Dawn Olmstead, the head of UCP and its docu-series sister company Wilshire Studios.
UCP’s podcasting play is as much about audio as developing content for other platforms. The company has already been involved in adapting podcasts for scripted television. UCP developed Gimlet Media’s Homecoming into a series for Amazon Prime Video, snagging Emmy and Golden Globe nominations in the process. UCP also adapted Wondery’s Dirty John into a TV series for Bravo, earning the network its first-ever Golden Globe nomination. Now it is currently in production on the adaptation of Wondery’s Dr. Death for NBCUniversal’s new streaming video service Peacock. Jamie Dornan, Alec Baldwin and Christian Slater are set to star.
UCP has also just announced the development of Wondery’s podcast Over My Dead Body for television with “Saturday Night Live” veteran Kate McKinnon set to star and executive produce.
“After the experience of adapting Dirty John, Homecoming, Dr. Death and more, we are firm believers that audio is as important for IP creation as books, film and television,” said Olmstead. “With the launch of UCP Audio we can offer storytellers the opportunity to write for multiple platforms, making UCP a one stop shop for whatever story you want to tell.”
The first podcast set to be released from UCP Audio is a scripted podcast called The End Up. Written, directed and produced by Will Weggel and Danny Luber, and produced by “Mr. Robot” Creator Sam Esmail, the show takes place in a tilted near-future where cancer patients who wish to end their suffering must attend a weeklong boot camp promising an “elegant off-ramp to life.” It is set to star LaKeith Stanfield, known for his work in the TV series “Atlanta” and film “Get Out.”
UCP Audio also has a true-crime podcast in the works called House of Prayer. Hosted by former prosecutor and legal analyst Beth Karas, the series will tell the story of how a daughter's call to police about memories of her mother's heinous crimes triggered a year-long investigation into an alleged cult, the disappearance of a child and a murder.
Another still-untitled podcast in development will feature journalist Josh Bloch with a deep dive into the search for a missing teen, uncovering the dark and twisted business of therapeutic schools and their ties to politicians, Hollywood and one of America's most dangerous cults.
UCP Audio says its podcasts will be available on all the major podcast platforms.