After the network's recent success with unscripted TV programming, HBO will develop an original docuseries about NXIVM. You might recognize that name as the "Hollywood sex cult" that's been making headlines in recent months. The Square director Jehane Noujaim will be helming the special, reuniting with producer Karim Amer to take on the new project for HBO. This will add a personal touch to the doc, as Noujaim actually has first-hand experience with NXIVM. Back in 2010, the filmmaker took the group's introductory "Executive Success Program" workshop, and will likely divulge details about the experience in the new series.
Everything that has happened with NXIVM is kind of a long story, but we'll provide a summarized version. In 1998, NXIVM was founded by Keith Raniere and Nancy Salzman as an organization offering "Executive Success Programs" and self-improvement techniques. Over the next several years, their seminars had managed to attract various celebrities, including Smallville star Allison Mack. The group developed a reputation as a cult selling a pyramid scheme, and things got even worse in 2017 when details about a "secret sisterhood" within NXIVM were reported in The New York Times. According to the report, female group members were branded with Raniere or Mack's initials and were subjected to corporal punishment, sexual slavery, and other atrocities.
Given Mack's status as a TV star, her involvement only managed to bring more attention to the case. Just months later, Keith Raniere was arrested on various charges including sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit forced labor. Mack herself was arrested a month later on similar charges, along with other NXIVM members. They both face a minimum of 15 years behind bars if convicted on all charges. Earlier this month, Mack pled guilty to the charges against her, while Raniere chose to plead not guilty. Both are set to be tried in federal court on April 29.
While Game of Thrones is undoubtedly the flagship show for HBO, the network has been riding a wave of critically acclaimed documentary projects as well. Early last month, HBO premiered the controversial two-part series Leaving Neverland, chronicling the alleged sexual abuse two children endured for years at the hands of Michael Jackson. Despite drawing very divided opinions, the doc earned universal praise from critics. Also last month, HBO followed up Neverland with the four-hour documentary The Case Against Adnan Syed. The special dives into the murder of Maryland teenager Hae Min Lee and the conviction of her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed of the crime, highlighting a flawed investigation and making a case for Syed's innocence.
As of this writing, no release date has yet been attached to the upcoming docuseries. We'll soon see what happens next with Raniere and Mack, however, when the NXIVM members head to court this month. Given what's known about the alleged sex cult, chances are both are facing very heavy prison sentences. Of course, this will all be likely documented in the series as well. This information comes to us from The Playlist.