“The Incredible Case of the P.I. Moms” told the story of soccer moms who worked as private sleuths for a former cop named Chris Butler. He was later accused of conspiring to sell drugs confiscated by the police with the help of an officer still on the force. Though Butler’s gumshoe agency — described by “This American Life” as a kind of “MILF Charlie’s Angels” — garnered plenty of press, he was aiming (just a little bit) higher: Butler wanted a reality show on Lifetime. His drug scheme, to which his soccer-mom employees professed ignorance, was eventually uncovered by journalist Peter Crooks, who first intended to write a positive story about the agency until he was tipped off to Butler’s criminal plans by an anonymous source. Crooks later wrote the nonfiction book “The Setup,” which became the basis for the “This American Life” episode.
Shelton and “Lucky Them” director Megan Griffiths collaborated on the script. “This American Life” staffers Ira Glass and Alissa Shipp will produce.
“When I heard this episode of ‘This American Life,'” commented Shelton, “I was completely blown away by the characters and stranger-than-fiction plot of this incredible true story. Yet all of these characters are real, driven by the same things that drive us all. As I listened, it was as if the movie was already playing in my head. It’s that cinematic.”
“’The Setup’ tells one of the most popular stories we’ve ever had on ‘This American Life,’ with fascinating details you can’t fit into a one-hour radio show,” added Glass. ”Pete Crooks was set up as a mark in this true-life caper, until he out-detectived the detectives. His chatty, lively account of what happened is a jaw-dropping tale of ambition, crime and reality TV.”