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Yorgos Lanthimos to Direct ‘The Man in the Rockefeller Suit’ Imposter Series for Searchlight TV

It's the latest sign that Disney is serious about keeping strong the Fox Searchlight brand of prestige content.

Yorgos LanthimosJury photocall, 72nd Cannes Film Festival, France - 14 May 2019

Yorgos Lanthimos

Matt Baron/REX/Shutterstock

“The Favourite” director Yorgos Lanthimos is set to direct and executive produce a limited series for Searchlight Television based on Mark Seal’s nonfiction book “The Man in the Rockefeller Suit: The Astonishing Rise and Spectacular Fall of a Serial Imposter.” The adaptation will center around the man known as Clark Rockefeller, who posed as a member of the famed family as part of a decades-long con game that came crashing down in 2008 after he kidnapped his daughter (Via Deadline).

Rockefeller, whose real name is Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, moved to the US from his native Germany in the 1970s, used a variety of aliases — film student, English royalty, and as a member of the American industrialist dynasty. It was under that false identity that he married his wife, who before long began to suspect her husband is not who he says he is.

In addition to the custodial kidnapping conviction, Gerhartsreiter was convicted in 2013 of the murder of Jonathan Sohus, his Southern California landlady’s son who disappeared in 1985. He’s currently serving 27 years to life in a California prison.

The project was first in development at Fox Searchlight as a feature written by David Bar Katz. Benedict Cumberbatch was at one point loosely attached to play the lead.

Now at Searchlight’s year-and-a-half old TV division, the limited series based on Seal’s bestseller will be executive produced alongside Lanthimos by Donald De Line (“Ready Player One,” “The Italian Job”) and Element Pictures, producers of Lanthimos’ “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” and “The Favourite.”

The news is just the latest signal that Disney sees Fox Searchlight’s long-established brand of prestige and award-winning fare, like the Oscar-winning “The Favourite,” as crucial to its strategy following its purchase of 20th Century Fox.

There’s no word yet where or when “The Man in the Rockefeller Suit” will air, but Disney CEO Bob Iger recently said the Fox assets are particularly valuable to his company’s streaming strategy.

With Disney+’s early days a resounding success, Disney is turning its attention to beefing up its Hulu offerings by making the streaming service the home of programming from FX, which has built a brand of creating edgy premium-cable quality shows like “American Horror Story.”

Iger also announced Fox Searchlight would be producing original content for Hulu, making it a possible destination for this Lanthimos project. Searchlight TV landed its first series order at Hulu for “The Dropout,” another limited series starring and executive produced by Kate McKinnon about disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes.

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