The “Slumdog Millionaire” team is on its way to tackling the story of a real-life heir to billions.
Oscar winners Danny Boyle, Simon Beauty, and Christina Colson are reuniting for “Trust,” an anthology series that will focus on the strange 1973 kidnapping of oil fortune heir John Paul Getty III. Production on the limited series begins in London and Rome this June for a January 2018 release, the network announced Friday.
In the ultimate case where money really can’t buy you happiness, the Getty family is as rich and dysfunctional as they come. The original J. Paul Getty was once named the richest living American by Fortune magazine in 1957 for founding the Getty Oil company. In 1966, “Guinness Book of Records” named him the world’s richest private citizen and estimated his worth at approximately $1.2 billion, which is nearly $9 billion by today’s standards. When it comes down to it, the guy was like Scrooge McDuck rich, but American. And he was as tight-fisted as he was wealthy.
You’d think that a family with all of that money would quickly and easily pay a ransom for their kidnapped heir. Well, the kidnappers in 1973 certainly thought so. The response from the Getty family, however, was less than swift or heartwarming.
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Over 10 episodes, “Trust” traces the horrifying ordeal of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III at the hands of his captors, who abducted him in Rome and then blindfolded and imprisoned him in a mountain hideout. When they demanded $17 million for his safe return, they waited… and waited. Didn’t the family want him back? Even the Italian police seemed uninterested and initially ignored the case, dismissing it as a youthful prank. After all, the Getty family members even recalled the teenager, whom they call Paul, joking about staging his own kidnapping in order to get money from his frugal grandpa.
Meanwhile, said grandfather was too busy at his Tudor mansion in England with his mistresses and pet lion to be bothered. Besides, meeting kidnappers’ demands would just set off more abductions of his heirs. That’s a bad and financially unwise precedent to set. As for Paul’s dad, he was in a heroin daze. And dear mother? Well, she at least wanted her son back but doesn’t have the funds, alas.
This lack of response from the Getty family baffles the desperate kidnappers, and how they escalate their demands is not pretty. When they finally do get word from the eldest J. Paul Getty, it’s not what anyone expected.
“We’re thrilled to begin production on Trust,” said John Landgraf, CEO of FX Networks and FX Productions. “The scripts from Simon Beaufoy are fantastic; surprising, nuanced, funny. They give [director] Danny Boyle so much to work with. We appreciate everything that they, Christian Colson and all of our producing partners have done that will help make ‘Trust’ a show that is certain make the Platinum Age of television even a little weightier.”
“Trust” will premiere sometime in January 2018 on FX.