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Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer is teaming with ID, discovery+ and October Films in an expansive partnership and development deal for premium unscripted true-crime content. Under the pact, Spencer and her production company, Orit Entertainment, and producer October Films will develop and produce multiple projects for ID and discovery+, with Spencer set to executive produce. Production on the deal’s first two projects is underway, with additional titles in development. The first title announced under the agreement is the three-episode one-hour series Highway 20 (w/t).
“As an avid fan of true crime, to now be partners with ID and October Films is a dream,” said Spencer. “Everyone at Orit Entertainment is committed to shedding light on the most fascinating cases and crime stories with a unique perspective. We are thrilled to launch our collaboration with Highway 20 (w/t), an incredible series of cases that took place over decades, only recently connected into a larger story – and this is just the beginning.”
Highway 20 begins with the case of a missing 13-year-old girl and spirals into a decades long true crime odyssey. Inspired by the award-winning work of journalist Noelle Crombie, videographer Dave Killen and photojournalist Beth Nakamura of The Oregonian, and directed by Arianna Lapenne, the series unpacks the dark secrets of a ghostly stretch of Oregon’s US Highway 20, where many women and girls went missing, were raped or murdered from the 1970s to the 1990s. As the discovery of numerous unsolved crimes sparks fear in the local community, attention focuses on the possibility that a serial killer has been roaming the highway for decades. Asking poignant questions of our society’s treatment of women – then and now – Highway 20 delivers a gripping, unfolding documentary event.
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Spencer executive produces Highway 20, along with Orit Entertainment’s Brian Clisham and Stephanie Kluft, October Films’ Gillian Pachter and Matt Robins, Advance Originals’ Marsha Oglesby, Circle of Confusion’s Susan Solomon and ID’s Lorna Thomas.
“Octavia is a creative force who brings a level of unparalleled curiosity and honesty to every story she tells. Upon learning that she and her amazing team at Orit share a deep passion for crime and investigative content, and had joined forces with our trusted partners at October, we knew this was a relationship we wanted to invest heavily in,” said Jason Sarlanis, President of Crime and Investigative Content, Linear and Streaming. “This unique collaboration brings together one of the best production entities in the business, a superstar talent who also happens to be a super-fan with Octavia and Orit, and the biggest brand dedicated to the true crime genre. Highway 20 is an incredible event series and exemplifies the powerful stories we look forward to telling through this amazing partnership.”
Matt Robins, Creative Director October Films added: “We’re delighted to bring a blossoming creative partnership to such a fantastic platform. Octavia and Orit’s passion for telling true crime stories in a fresh and illuminating way was abundantly clear from our very first conversation. The Warner Bros. Discovery group has encouraged and enabled us to think big as we build a blockbuster slate of premium documentary series. To begin that journey with the remarkable HIGHWAY 20 is a rare and meaningful opportunity.”
Projects under Spencer’s Orit Entertainment banner include Truth Be Told for Apple, Self-Made: Inspired By The Life Of Madam C.J. Walker produced with LeBron James and SpringHill Ent for Netflix, for which Spencer received her first Emmy nomination, and their documentary short, Right to Try. Orit currently has a three-year overall deal with ABC Signature.
October’s recent productions include Beanie Mania for HBO Max, Diana for CNN Originals, First Ladies for CNN Originals and Getaway Driver for discovery+.
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