Kate McKinnon, Elizabeth Holmes: it’s based on The Dropout podcast.
In yet another example of a podcast turning into a TV show, Hulu has ordered an adaptation of ABC Nightline’s investigative series, The Dropout, about Elizabeth Holmes and her failed blood-testing company Theranos, with Saturday Night Live and Ghostbusters star Kate McKinnon tapped for the lead role.
Hosted by ABC chief business, economics, and technology correspondent Rebecca Jarvis, The Dropout debuted earlier this year as a six-episode podcast and accompanying documentary series that came after a three-year investigation into Theranos and its founder. Holmes famously dropped out of Stanford to found the company, attracting an incredible amount of attention (and $900 million in investment capital) for her “revolutionary” desktop blood-testing unit, but Theranos crashed spectacularly when it became apparent that the company’s product was unworkable, and its seeming successes were open deceptions.
Jarvis told The Verge in an interview about the podcast that she became interested in Holmes as she rose to fame in the media, and explained that the entire story worked really well as a podcast. “It had a lot of layers to it, it’s not totally straightforward, there is some nuance and meat,” she says. The series delves into how Holmes built Theranos, how she modeled her career after the late Steve Jobs, and how she was able to fool so many people into believing her product would eventually work. The company has since collapsed, and Holmes and her former COO and president Ramesh Balwani are facing criminal charges of wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
All of this would make for a compelling couple of hours of television — and has already been the subject of several documentaries, including HBO’s The Inventor. Deadline reports that the limited series will be between six and 10 episodes, and will star McKinnon as Holmes. That in itself is exciting: anyone who’s seen her on Saturday Night Live knows she’s unmatched at impersonations, and her version of Holmes should be something to see.