Has a podcast just discovered who the so-called Hollywood Con Queen is? And is the answer a gender-bending reveal? That is what is buzzing in Los Angeles this week as Chameleon: Hollywood Con Queen – the first podcast from the new partnership between Campside Media and Sony Music Entertainment – makes headlines.
The true crime series hosted by journalists Josh Dean and Vanessa Grigoriadis has taken listeners on the hunt for the Hollywood Con Queen, a notorious scam artist who impersonated powerful female film producers to prey on aspiring members of the entertainment industry.
The podcast has been built off the work done by K2 Intelligence, an investigative, compliance, and cyber defense services firm which last year said it had determined the “queen” is not a woman but rather a man. Regardless of the gender, whoever it is has been able to dupe men in Hollywood by impersonating such power players as former Sony head Amy Pascal and producer Kathleen Kennedy. He has mostly focused on ambitious up-and-comers from the film industry, including screenwriters, and actors, personal trainers, make-up artists and security guards with all sorts of schemes – even allegedly casting a Space X movie.
While the calls seem above board at first, subsequent calls reportedly steer into sexually explicit role play with promises of work. In other cases, the ruse was financial in nature. The six-year scam spree has even caught the attention of the FBI, which has been investigating the so-called Con Queen of Hollywood since early-2019.
On the latest episode of Chameleon, Dean and Grigoriadis said they have potentially figured out who is behind the calls and they plan to reveal his identity. They alleged the man behind the scam currently works in the restaurant business in London and went to college in the U.S. but earlier was jailed in his native Indonesia.
“Hollywood is a place where everyone is pretending to be someone he isn’t, so it’s not a surprise that this con worked for so long,” said Dean. “He had the pattern of a major female executive down pat. A lot of times he pretended to be a male assistant rolling calls too.”
Grigoriadis added, “The temerity of the con artist is unbelievable. We believe he was enacting this con day in and day out for years.”
The two hosts also published an article in Vanity Fair on Thursday detailing how they tracked down the man. “The con probably netted $1.5 million to $2 million in total,” they wrote.
There is already reportedly interest in adapting the podcast into a television series. “Since the podcast came out, there has been tremendous noise with the election and with COVID,” Atlas Entertainment’s Andy Horwitz told Deadline. “We didn’t want to try packaging a TV show at a time everyone was distracted and so we let the podcast roll out, and create audience,” he said.
Chameleon reportedly has had more than one million downloads to date, but the press attention surrounding its “big reveal” could boost those numbers ahead of the season finale December 3.
It is a strong out of the gate debut for the alliance between the audio production studio Campside Media and Sony Music Entertainment. The two companies announced in September plans to develop a slate of original podcasts. Under the new pact the companies said they will work to expand the number of series it produces and to develop a range of new podcast concepts across multiple genres.
The Campside Media team will manage all creative aspects of the relationship, including podcast writing, production and recording. For its part, Sony Music will further advance its “creator-first approach to collaborating with talent by providing expertise in content creation, marketing and monetization to help enhance the scale and scope of Campside’s work,” according to a release.