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Listen: ‘This American Life’ Episode ‘Incredible Case Of The P.I. Moms’ Being Turned Into A Film By Lynn Shelton

Listen: 'This American Life' Episode 'Incredible Case Of The P.I. Moms' Being Turned Into A Film By Lynn Shelton

Like many of her indie filmmaking colleagues, Lynn Shelton has graduated from mumblecore, and her last picture, “Laggies,” even boasted some household names like Keira Knightley and Chloe Moretz. She has spent her time since in the world of television, helming episodes of “Fresh Off The Boat” and “The Mindy Project,” but she’s got a new project brewing that sounds like it could be her biggest yet.

READ MORE: Interview: Lynn Shelton And Sam Rockwell Talk ‘Laggies’

Deadline reports that Shelton is slated to direct a feature adaptation based on the “This American Life” broadcast “The Incredible Case Of The P.I. Moms” and Stephen Crooks‘ book, “The Setup.” The premise is pretty out there, and made even more outrageous because it’s all true. The movie will tell the story of a detective agency made up of moms that was actually a fame-chasing front for police corruption and drug dealing. Seriously. The group garnered national attention, earning themselves an episode of “Dr. Phil” and People magazine coverage, but it soon all fell apart. Here’s the synopsis of Crooks’ book: 

The pitch went like this: Chris Butler, a retired cop, ran a private investigator firm in Concord, California. His business had a fascinating angle—his firm was staffed entirely by soccer moms.
In fact, Butler employed PI Super Moms: attractive, organized, smart, and trained in investigative techniques, self-defense, and weaponry. This American Life host Ira Glass described them as “MILF: Charlie’s Angels.”
When this story came across Pete Crooks’s desk when he was working at Diablo magazine in 2010, he was instantly hooked. He’d heard a little bit about Butler and his super moms in the news; they’d been featured in People magazine and on Dr. Phil. What Butler’s publicist was offering was too tantalizing to pass up: an opportunity to ride along with Butler and a few of his sexy PIs as they prepared to start filming a reality TV show.
But after the ride-along—and after he started receiving mysterious emails from one of Butler’s employees—Crooks started to realize something didn’t seem right. After doing a little digging, he discovered the “sting” he’d seen only had one real victim…him. The PI bust had been a setup.
Crooks wasn’t a hardboiled crime reporter. He did lifestyle pieces for a regional magazine. The more he learned about Butler’s operation, the more he realized he was in far over his head. But swallowing his fears, he decided he was going to write an expose on Butler and his entire organization. He soon found himself deep in the underbelly of fake sting operations, wannabe celebrities, police corruption, drug-dealing, reality television, double-crossing employees, and more twists and turns than a dozen crime thrillers.

No word yet on who will pen the screenplay, but man, that sounds like one helluva tale. Check out the “This American Life” story below, plus the “Dr. Phil” appearance by the P.I. Moms.




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