It has been almost a year since the resurrection of gawker.com, much talked about but highly charged, collapsed. The Bustle Digital Group, which snatched the domain at a bankruptcy auction in 2018, said at the time that it was postponing its plans to restart the legendary website after the repercussions of PR due to a confused staff controversy. Given the state of the media business – BDG is among the many players who consider coronavirus cuts – it is unlikely that we will see this happen anytime soon.
Plans for a revival of another kind, however, are advancing. Apple TV +, now building its arsenal in the streaming wars, is in the early stages of developing a series about Gawker, said several people familiar with the project. The program was designed and presented by two former Gawker employees, Max Read and Cord Jefferson, who have been working on the scripts for the past two months with a screenwriter room that apparently includes some other Gawker alumni. Read was Gawker's editor in chief at one point, but resigned in 2015 amid a controversy related to a post about a Condé Nast executive (owner of Vanity Fair). He then landed at New York magazine, but recently resigned to focus on the program. Jefferson is a former writer and editor for Gawker who worked on TV, where he accumulated credits on programs like Watchmen, Succession and Master of None.
Jefferson and Read declined to comment, so details are scarce. But the series was described to me as a dramatic one about Gawker's rise and its impact on the media scene, as he turned from a gossip blog into a major force in the type of journalism that pokes celebrities and the powerful. The skewer's power, of course, is what caused the end of the site's parent company, Gawker Media, which was sued for forgetting by Hulk Hogan, with the help of Peter Thiel.
The Gawker series is not the first media or journalism-centric plot to enter Apple's growing array of original programming, which is competing with companies like Netflix, Amazon and Disney +. The company's lineup also includes The Morning Show, inspired by Brian Stelter's book about morning TV, and Home Before Dark, based on the real-life story of teenage reporter Hilde Lysiak, whom I profiled in 2015. Apple declined to comment.
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