HBO Has “First Look Deal” for Texas Monthly Stories

From a story on by Dan Goodgame headlined “HBO and HBO Max to Get First Dibs on Texas Monthly Stories”:

During my first job after college, as late-night police reporter for the Tampa Tribune, my shift ended in the wee hours, not long before the presses started rolling, and one of my greatest pleasures was to grab an early copy of the newspaper with one of my stories on the front. Today, I and my colleagues at Texas Monthly get that same thrill every month when the first copies of our print magazine land in the office. And we look forward to a whole new source of excitement, accompanied by popcorn, as more of our stories and podcasts get adapted for streaming series.

That last ambition takes a big step closer to realization today….We’re entering what’s known as a “first-look” deal with HBO and HBO Max. These popular, award-winning entertainment brands will have the right to assess both new and classic stories and podcasts that Texas Monthly has published and decide which ones they’d like to develop. They might be interested in a single story or podcast, or in combining two or more stories. After a set time period, if they’re not interested in a particular story or podcast, we will be free to offer it to other entertainment companies.

HBO Max is already in production, with Lionsgate Television, on the limited series Love and Death, based on the Texas Monthly Press book Evidence of Love: A True Story of Passion and Death in the Suburbs, and on articles in Texas Monthly (“Love and Death in Silicon Prairie”) by Jim Atkinson and John Bloom. Both works explored the true story of Candace “Candy” Montgomery and her friend Betty Gore, whom she killed with an ax….

Also in development at HBO Max is an adaptation of our story “When ‘Angels in America’ Came to East Texas.”

Texas Monthly is represented in Hollywood by the Creative Artists Agency, and specifically quarterbacked by dynamo agent Ann Blanchard, a proud Texan who knows and loves our state and the crazy stories and characters it spawns. Since our relationship with Ann and CAA began in 2019, Texas Monthly has sold more than two dozen articles and podcasts into various stages of development and production, with partners who include George Clooney, Laura Dern, Tom Hanks, Taylor Sheridan (another proud Texan!), and Renée Zellweger (ditto), as well as HBO and HBO Max, ABC, Discovery Plus, Netflix, Paramount, and Starz.

Those adaptations in development include one based on our Boomtown podcast, about the West Texas oil fields, one based on our true-crime podcast, Tom Brown’s Body, and a non-scripted true-crime documentary series. That last project is already in production….

Our first-look deal with HBO and HBO Max is the fruit of months of diligent, creative work by my counterpart on the business side of Texas Monthly, company president Scott Brown, our editor of new story platforms, Megan Creydt, and our producer of new story platforms, Maddy Bilder. Scott, Megan, and Maddy (with wise guidance from CAA) were asked to pitch such a deal to about a dozen movie and film studios and other entertainment companies, and received offers from half of those. We’re very pleased to end up working with HBO and HBO Max….(Plus, in an amazing coincidence, the head of original content at HBO Max, Sarah Aubrey, worked years ago as a Texas Monthly intern!)

We’ve received keen Hollywood interest in one of our recent feature stories—“The Notorious Mrs. Mossler,” by executive editor Skip Hollandsworth, about a wealthy Houston socialite who might have pulled off the perfect murder. We’ve also fielded several inquiries about our most recent podcast, America’s Girls, which launched December 7. The eight-episode series is hosted by Dallas writer Sarah Hepola and tells the inside story of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders….

As Scott explains: “Our goals in Hollywood are twofold. First, to partner with filmmakers who will do justice to Texas Monthly’s great stories. Second, to expose our storytelling to television and film audiences who might not know Texas Monthly….

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