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A new podcast revolving around the life and death of producer Don Simpson, who produced such films as American Gigolo, Flashdance, Beverly Hills Cop, and Top Gun, is coming to iHeartRadio. Hosting the 24-episode series, titled The Don, is Malaya Drew (The L Word, Mayans M.C.). The series is set to be produced by Will McCormack and Snatch producer David Harris Kline.
If you’re at all familiar with the life and times of Don Simpson, you’ll know that the circumstances circling his fatal overdose continue to fascinate film fans to this very day. When The Don launches on May 11, it will take a hard look at the tawdry drug dealers, Hollywood madams, and dubious doctors who may have played a part in his demise. The series will launch with a full six episodes to give listeners a clear picture of the show’s trajectory. The podcast will use narration, clips, and fictional re-enactments via “lost tapes” to take listeners behind the scenes into the 1980s.
Records indicate that when Simpson died in January of 1996, the Los Angeles coroner reported that his corpse was the most toxic in the history of California autopsy with over 22 different pharmaceuticals in his body at the time of death. The podcast will explore how Simpson came to be found in such a state and question many aspects of his storied career. It will also give special attention to Simpson’s personal doctor, fitness guru, and indie filmmaking partner, Dr. Stephen Ammerman, who died just six months earlier from an overdose in Simpson’s pool house.
“This new anthology-style podcast shows how audio has the ability to paint a picture-perfect experience for listeners,” said McCormack. “The powerful use of narration and story-telling sets the scene, allowing listeners to go back in time to the 1980s, an iconic time in Hollywood for many reasons, but also a defective time. Although Don Simpson was flawed in many ways, this podcast works hard to capture how influential he was and shares his complete story and I think our listeners will appreciate that.”
“We are excited to work with iHeart on a series that is so quintessentially the 1980s,” added Kline. “We all have a soft spot for 80s nostalgia — we love the movies, the music, the fashion, and how earnestly people took themselves back then. There was no irony, no internet, and no social media. The premise of our series is how Don was a rags-to-riches movie producer that shaped and influenced the decade that we all love. However, there was a dark side to Don and his massive influence over mainstream American culture. We peel back the layers, and behind the shallow glamour of the 80s, we find something much darker and more nefarious.”
“As an actress and as a woman of color, I was shocked but not surprised to learn of how virulent and rampant toxic masculinity was in Hollywood back then,” said Rivera Drew. “This podcast is meant to be an entertaining, high octane ride—the rise and fall of a creative genius. Don was, above all else, an entertainer. But we also expose a deep underbelly of Hollywood and the systemic issues that we are still grappling with today.”
The first six episodes of The Don will launch on iHeartRadio on May 11.