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Apple nabs ‘Serial’-inspired true-crime drama ‘Are You Sleeping’

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Disney | ABC Television Group/Flickr
The podcast Serial is being adapted to a  TV series, but it has also inspired at least one other project. Apple nabbed Are You Sleeping, a new drama series starring Oscar winner Octavia Spencer, Deadline reports.

The project is based on Kathleen Barber’s 2017 novel of the same name, which centers on a woman and her family dealing with the pain of having a true-crime podcast question the guilt of the boy who murdered her father. Barber wrote the book following the success of Serial. She admitted in a 17Scribes interview that she got swept up in the story and her first draft of Are You Sleeping was “a way for [her] to work through” her “obsession” with the podcast. Specifically, she was concerned with her lack of empathy for the people involved.

“I realized I had been thinking about them as characters in an entertaining drama, rather than very real people who were part of a very real tragedy,” she said. “I generally think of myself as an empathetic person who is concerned with other people’s feelings, and so I realized that if I was doing that, surely many other people were too.”

Barber critiques our response to true-crime stories in the book, and the TV adaptation will do the same. Interestingly enough, it will do so with the help of Serial creator, producer, and host Sarah Koenig, who is set to consult on the project. Meanwhile, the series is created and written by Nichelle Tramble Spellman, who previously worked on The Good Wife and Justified.

Are You Sleeping comes from Chernin Entertainment and Endeavor Content as well as Reese Witherspoon’s production company, Hello Sunshine, which is riding high after its success with HBO’s Big Little Lies. Witherspoon is an executive producer alongside Spencer, Tramble Spellman, Lauren Neustadter, Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping, and Kristen Campo.

There are a lot of elements to like here. Not only is there the critique of the true-crime craze, we are also interested to see more from Spencer, who seems to continuously garner acting accolades.

No release date for Are You Sleeping has been announced.

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