CNN Films And HBO MAX Back Opioid Crime Documentary ‘AMERICAN PAIN’ From Academy Award-Nominated Motto Pictures And Emmy® Award-Winning Director Darren Foster – World Premiere Set For Tribeca Film Festival
Presented In Association With TIME Studios, The Film Tells The Story Of The Rise And FBI Takedown Of America’s Notorious Opioid Kingpins Who Trafficked More Than $500 Million In Pills
CNN Films and HBO Max, in association with TIME Studios, have commissioned a new true crime tale, American Pain, directed by Emmy® Award-winner Darren Foster and produced by Motto Pictures, Muck Media, and Fishbowl Films that traces the rise and fall of Chris and Jeff George, identical twins who are believed to be America’s most prolific opioid kingpins. In just a few short years of operation, the Georges ran a pill mill empire that attracted clients from around the country, and spawned a prescription drug trafficking network with an estimated street value of more than $500M. The film will premiere at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival in June, and is currently slated for release in 2023.
Academy Award-nominated, Emmy® Award-winning producers Julie Goldman, Christopher Clements, and Carolyn Hepburn of Motto Pictures are producers, alongside Diane Becker of Fishbowl Films. Amy Entelis and Courtney Sexton of CNN Films are executive producers. CNN Films retains worldwide and North American television rights to the film. HBO Max holds streaming rights. Theatrical rights for the documentary remain available.
“The George brothers were early pioneers in Florida’s pill mill boom and kicked the door open for colorful imitators who together turned prescription painkillers into the greatest drug racket to hit the Sunshine State since the cocaine cowboys of the 1980s. The big difference: this time, the suppliers weren’t some Colombian drug cartel; it was the U.S. pharmaceutical industry pumping out billions of powerful and addictive pills, unleashing the worst drug epidemic in American history. I couldn’t be more grateful to CNN Films, HBO Max, TIME Studios, and my talented partners at Motto Pictures for helping me realize this wild tale,” said Foster, director of American Pain.
“With its ‘evil-twin’ characters and shocking narrative turns, Darren’s carefully-researched story is paced like a suspenseful page-turner. The toll of the opioid epidemic on the nation is a vital story. We are really pleased to re-team with Julie, Chris, and Carolyn to tell another compelling story of American life,” said Courtney Sexton, senior vice president for CNN Films. Sexton and Amy Entelis, executive vice president for talent and content development for CNN Worldwide, are executive producers for American Pain.
Foster’s crime fable unfolds across a sundrenched Florida landscape as identical twin brothers Jeff and Chris George seized an opportunity to expand their steroid business into the bigger bucks of opioid pain clinics. Through a series of exclusive jailhouse interviews, the twins describe how they hired rogue physicians to prescribe alarming quantities of opioid painkillers to the maximum number of patients.
“At TIME, we look to share stories of individuals and communities that are reflective of larger societal issues. American Pain is a remarkably compelling true crime story that sheds light on the opioid crisis like nothing we’ve seen before, exploring the pain of addiction and corruption through unforgettable characters. Darren brings a sensitivity and dignity to this film – it’s truly stunning. We are thrilled to be working with Motto Pictures, and to partner once again with CNN Films, on this exceptional project,” Alexandra Johnes, co-head of documentary for TIME Studios.
Foster’s mix of cinema verité, undercover footage, wiretaps, and direct-to-camera interviews with key players and rivals reveal how the brothers even used their own mother, and Chris’ girlfriend, to help manage the cash business and supervise the management of up to 500 patients per day. Their greed and extravagant lifestyles attracted the attention of the FBI.
In only a few years of operation, the brothers were responsible for millions of doses of opioids released to patients by allegedly fabricating patient records. Foster incorporates undercover video and interviews with federal agents to propel his fast-paced plot, describing how the criminal investigation took ever darker turns, as the Georges ran their business in a mob-like fashion, ruthlessly threatening competitors, while amassing a fortune from patients, even as dozens of their clientele were dying from overdoses.
Motto Pictures and CNN Films previously collaborated on Enlighten Us: The Rise and Fall of James Arthur Ray, directed by Jenny Carchman; and Love, Gilda, about the trailblazing comedienne, directed by Lisa D’Apolito. CNN Films and TIME STUDIOS are executive producers for John Lewis: Good Trouble, about the life and legacy of the civil rights icon and federal legislator, directed by Dawn Porter; and GABBY GIFFORDS WON’T BACK DOWN, about the Congresswoman who survived an assassination attempt and, together with her husband, works to raise awareness to gun safety, directed by Academy Award®-nominated Betsy West and Julie Cohen.
Muck Media is the production company behind Mucho Mucho Amor, Science Fair, Menudo: Forever Young, and Trafficked with Mariana van Zeller.
The acquisition deal for American Pain was negotiated by Stacey Wolf, senior vice president of business affairs, and Kelly MacLanahan, assistant general counsel, both of CNN Worldwide, on behalf of CNN Films.
CNN Films is behind: Julia, from Academy Award®-nominated filmmakers Betsy West and Julie Cohen, the surprising biography of chef, television star, and author Julia Child, produced with Imagine Documentaries in association with Storyville Films and acquired by Sony Pictures Classics; Citizen Ashe, directed by Sam Pollard and Rex Miller about tennis great and humanitarian Arthur Ashe, executive produced with HBO Max and produced by Dogwoof, REXPIX, and Stick Figure Productions, and acquired by Magnolia Pictures; Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain and directed by Morgan Neville, executive produced with HBO Max and released by Focus Features; The Last Movie Stars, about the lives and careers of actors and activists Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman, directed by Ethan Hawke and executive produced with HBO Max; and LFG for HBO Max, directed by Andrea Nix Fine and Sean Fine, about the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team and the team’s fight for pay equity.
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About CNN Films
CNN Films produces and acquires documentary feature and short films for theatrical and festival exhibition and distribution across CNN’s multiple platforms. Amy Entelis, executive vice president of talent and content development, oversees the strategy for CNN Films; Courtney Sexton, senior vice president for CNN Films, works day-to-day with filmmakers to oversee projects. Acclaimed CNN Films include JULIA, the surprising biography of chef, television star, and author, Julia Child, from filmmakers Betsy West and Julie Cohen, who previously directed the Academy Award®-nominated RBG, about the life and legacy of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; CITIZEN ASHE, directed by Sam Pollard and Rex Miller, about tennis great and humanitarian Arthur Ashe; Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain, executive produced with HBO Max, directed by Morgan Neville; and, DIONNE WARWICK: Don’t Make Me Over, about the singer and humanitarian, directed by Dave Wooley. For more information about CNN Films, please visit www.CNN.com/CNNFilms, follow @CNNFilms via Twitter, and join Keep Watching, an exclusive, members-only community for CNN Films & CNN Original Series https://cnn.it/3qTScB4.
About HBO Max
HBO Max™ is a direct-to-consumer streaming platform from Warner Bros. Discovery, offering best in class quality entertainment. HBO Max delivers the greatest array of series, movies and specials for audiences of all ages from the iconic brands of HBO, Warner Bros., and DC, as well as Max Originals, blockbuster films, and beloved kids and family content. The platform launched in the United States in May 2020 and introduced a lower priced, advertising-supported tier in June 2021. HBO Max began its global rollout launching in markets across Latin America and the Caribbean last summer, followed by its first European launches in the Nordics and Spain in the fall. Currently available in 61 countries, there are plans for continued expansion of HBO Max in 2022.
About Motto Pictures
Motto Pictures is a documentary production company specializing in producing and executive producing documentary films and series, working with a line-up of talented and acclaimed filmmakers. Motto creatively develops films, secures financing and builds distribution strategies with an eye toward maximizing their position in the domestic and international markets. Motto has produced over 50 films – including The Velvet Underground, The Mole Agent, Life, Animated, Abacus, Weiner, In The Same Breath – that have been featured at the most prestigious film festivals and distributed around the world, are Emmy, Peabody and duPont Award-winning and have been nominated for Academy Awards, Independent Spirit Awards, Gotham Awards and many other prestigious honors.
About TIME Studios
From one of the most globally iconic brands, TIME Studios is an Emmy Award®-winning television, film and immersive studio focusing on the development, production and distribution of truth-based premium unscripted and scripted premium storytelling that moves the world. With technical innovation and a brand defining visual language that dates back 99 years, TIME Studios aims to impact communities and the world at large with ideas that forge true progress. Combining the industry’s leading creators with TIME, one of the most trusted brands that reaches an audience of over 100 million people globally, TIME Studios is uniquely positioned to bring massive audiences to the world’s most impactful stories. Recent projects include, Black Gold (Paramount+), Big Vape (Netflix), John Lewis: Good Trouble (CNN Films), Amazing Grace (Neon), Ricky Powell: The Individualist (Showtime), Mass Effect: The Story of YouTube, Kid of the Year (Nickelodeon/CBS), TIME 100 (ABC) and the first scripted project for TIME Studios, Women of the Year (Amazon).
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