Adam McKay Launches ‘Death on the Lot’ Podcast Exploring 1950s Dead Celebrities

Ron Howard, Lee Grant, and James Cromwell are among the interviewees for the podcast centered on the deaths of James Dean, Hattie McDaniel, and more Hollywood titans.
REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE, Sal Mineo, James Dean, Corey Allen, 1955
James Dean in "Rebel Without a Cause"
Courtesy Everett Collection

Adam McKay is unveiling his follow-up podcast to 2021’s “Death at the Wing,” this time focusing on 1950s Hollywood deaths.

The Oscar nominee and his company Hyperobject Industries and Sony Music Entertainment will release “Death on the Lot” on June 1, centered on the deaths of James Dean, Hattie McDaniel, John Garfield, and more Hollywood figures. The eight-episode podcast is hosted by McKay and features interviews with Ron Howard, Lee Grant, James Cromwell, and even relatives of some of the episode subjects.

“All during the making of ‘Death at the Wing,’ we kept saying the only other comparison we can think of is Hollywood after World War II,” McKay told Variety. “Then we thought, ‘Well, let’s do a season about that, and see what we can uncover.’ And if possible, it was even richer and deeper, and more to the core of the American story than we anticipated.”

McKay continued, “You’re able to walk into the project, and make the project, with questions still unanswered. With these podcasts, the questions are the central theme of the show — and it’s really fun, because you’re constantly making discoveries. It’s just a very living and breathing process, all the way to the very end, when you record that last couple of sentences.”

“Death on the Lot” is written by Brian Steele and Hadley Meares, Clare Slaughter, and Harry Nelson at Hyperobject, and edited by Jody Avirgan.

McKay noted that interviews were key for the podcast episodes.

“That diversity of voices, it’s essential to this kind of storytelling, because it’s incredibly interdisciplinary,” the “Don’t Look Up” director said. “You’re not ever just looking at things through an economic lens, a sociological lens, an entertainment history lens — the lens is always shifting. So it really creates this need for an incredibly broad perspective. That collection of voices is the center, the core, of the show. It’s the living questions — and then going to this incredible array of people to get those answers.”

On the film front, McKay is gearing up for his “next big one” for Netflix, “Average Height, Average Build,” which stars Robert Pattinson, Amy Adams, Robert Downey Jr., Forest Whitaker, and Danielle Deadwyler. The political satire is confirmed to center on a serial killer who hires a lobbyist to change the laws around murder.

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