EXCLUSIVE: Veteran journalist and news executive James Goldston, former President of ABC News, has signed a producing deal with Aaron Kaplan’s Kapital Entertainment to develop and produce companion scripted series and docuseries based on true events.
The first three projects already in the works under the pact include scripted limited/potential anthology series Kushner, Inc., about the influential and controversial Kushner family, and Meltdown, about the Fukushima nuclear disaster; as well as docuseries Death by TikTok, about teen TikTok star Ava Majury whose father shot dead a trespassing alleged stalker of hers. Kapital and Goldston are also partnering on docuseries about the Kushners and Fukushima as well as a scripted series about Ava Majury’s story.
Kushner, Inc. will be written/executive produced by Barbie Kligman and Judith McCreary, Meltdown by Iris Yamashita. Goldston will executive produce the scripted series via his Aquitania Films alongside Kapital’s Kaplan and Brian Morewitz, with Kevin Marco overseeing the projects for the Kapital.
“James Goldston is a revered journalist and storyteller who has meticulously covered the most important events in culture, entertainment, news and politics,” Kaplan said. “We are grateful that he chose Kapital and we are excited to launch this partnership in developing content that is equally compelling in the documentary space as it is in the scripted space.”
This marks the first foray into the unscripted space for Kapital and the first foray into entertainment and scripted programming for Goldston. Kaplan, who had been pursuing Goldston for awhile, got the idea about developing docuseries alongside scripted shows after his recent experience with Kapital’s ABC limited series women of the movement, which was accompanied by the ABC News-produced docuseries Let the World See, about the life and legacy of Mamie Till-Mobley, also executive produced by Kaplan.
like with Women of the Movement and Let the World See, the companion scripted series and docusies produced by Kapital and Goldston will be kept separate with their own creative teams but the intention is to sell them together as a package to be available on the same platform. The goal is for the docuseries to provide viewers of the scripted projects an opportunity to learn more about the real people and events depicted in the those shows while at the same time keeping the creatives behind the scripted projects responsible and accountable as they take a creative license in their storytelling.
“I am thrilled to be partnering with Aaron Kaplan and Kapital at this incredible moment of opportunity to tell true stories around the world,” Goldston said. “Our aim is to bring together the best journalism with the greatest story tellers to create impactful and memorable television. I can’t wait for audiences to see the results.”
Here are descriptions of the first projects under the partnership:
The limited series, inspired by the book “Kushner, Inc” by Vicky Ward who will serve as producer, follows the story of the Kushner family from their escape from the Holocaust to a new life in America, and the growth of a real estate empire in New Jersey, until an infamous plot would derail all their plans.
In 2005, Charles Kushner pleaded guilty to what Governor Chris Christie would call “one of the most loathsome, disgusting crimes that I prosecuted when I was US attorney.” The real estate mogul had hired a prostitute to seduce his brother in law, videotaped the encounter, and sent the tape to his sister.
This is a story about family, and faith, and money, and just how far someone will go to get what they really want.
Kligman and McCreary previously worked together on Kapital’s ABC series Secrets and Lies, which Kligman created.
Based on the book by Yoichi Funabashi who serves as a consultant, Meltdown is a gripping account of the Fukushima nuclear crisis ten years ago. It tells the story of 14 days that exposed the myth of absolute safety, and revealed the lack of real leadership at key moments that threatens every major democracy in the world.
This is an updated version of the award-winning Chernobyl, where the modern-day elites of politicians and bureaucrats in one of the world’s most advanced economies panic and fail completely, and only the quiet heroism of the engineers and technicians save the world from calamity.
Yamashita was nominated for an Oscar for Clint Eastwood’s writing Letters From Iwo Jima.
Death by Tik Tok
Teenage TikTok star Ava Majury awoke one night last summer to the sound of a shotgun blast tearing through her front door in Naples, Florida – when, in her words, a Maryland teen showed up “and tried to murder” her family.
With exclusive access, never before seen video and exclusive interviews, the docuseries will tell the story of what really happened in the run-up to a fateful encounter that would end in the death of the attacker. And how social media and obsession can come together to change the lives of a family and a community forever.
The project is already filming footage as another stalking case Majury had brought was heard and dismissed by a judge earlier this week.
Goldston is coming off a 17-year stint at ABC News where he served in a string of key positions, including Executive Producer of nightline and Senior Executive Producer of Good Morning Americaculminating into a seven-year run as President of ABC News from 2014-21.
Before joining ABC News in 2004, Goldston was a producer of news and current affairs projects for ITV and BBC News in his native Britain. He has won multiple Emmys, Murrows and Peabody awards for his work. Goldston is repped by Lee Goldberg and Richard Hofstetter at Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Salz.