THR's Hollywood Con Queen Investigation to Be Apple TV+ Docuseries

Original deep reporting by The Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Johnson is getting the true-crime docuseries treatment at Apple TV+.

The streaming giant has picked up the three-parter Hollywood Con Queen from director Chris Smith, based in part on Johnson’s book Hollywood Con Queen: The Hunt for an Evil Genius from Harper Collins.

The docuseries, to premiere May 8, promises an in-depth exploration of a mysterious Indonesian man and the masquerade behind his elaborate Con Queen scam. This was no garden-variety swindler. His criminal exploits eventually drew the attention of THR investigative journalist Johnson and private investigator Nicole Kotsianas as they set out to unmask the serial imposter by tearing back the layers of one of Hollywood’s most elaborate schemes.

As part of Johnson’s original reporting, he interviewed unwitting victims of the Con Queen’s daring schemes, which wreaked havoc across the entertainment industry and impacted a who’s who of Hollywood. The accomplished deceiver impersonated mostly top female execs like former Sony chair Amy Pascal and Star Wars producer Kathleen Kennedy to target industry creators with promises of career-changing work in Indonesia, only to bilk them of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The Indonesian fraudster didn’t let go of his marks until they had exhausted their personal finances for an elusive big break, only to ensnare them in a psychological con now part of Hollywood lore.

Catfishing operations staged by the veteran scammer saw him employ accents to impersonate celebrities like Wendi Murdoch, the wife of Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch, and Christine Hearst Schwarzman, the intellectual property lawyer and wife of billionaire Blackstone Group CEO Stephen Schwarzman, to convince unsuspecting victims to send him money.

Reporting by THR’s Johnson — which included a 2018 cover story — helped track down the Indonesian criminal, whom he came face-to-face with during COVID lockdown restrictions in the United Kingdom in the fall of 2020. 

I could feel my heart thumping in my chest as I approached him from behind. ‘Excuse me . . .’ He stopped, and though the rest of his body remained immobile, he swiveled his head toward me. Above a blue surgical mask, two dark eyes pinned me with a look of utter fury,” Johnson recounted in his Con Queen of Hollywood book.

Hollywood Con Queen is produced for Apple TV+ by Library Films, with Smith also serving as executive producer alongside Ben Anderson. Johnson serves as a consulting producer.

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