The Big Lie was created by Executive Producer John Mankiewicz based on a story he’d been trying to tell for 25 years - that of the 1954 pro-labor film, Salt of the Earth, the only ever American film itself named to the Hollywood Blacklist. Salt producer Paul Jarrico asked Mankiewicz to tell the story in the 1990s as a cautionary tale of censorship, greed, and fear. 25 years later (also 25 years after Jarrico’s death), the story was finally made into a podcast when Mankiewicz linked up with Fresh Produce Media and realized the specific capabilities of audio - intimacy, spy audio tapes, 50s-noir, radio-show effects - were perfect for his storytelling goals.
More on the series: The Big Lie follows FBI special agent Jack Bergin (Jon Hamm), who is sent to investigate three blacklisted filmmakers—Academy Award-winning writer Michael Wilson, Academy Award-nominated producer Paul Jarrico, and director Herbert J. Biberman—who were inspired by a New Mexico labor strike to make a movie that dramatized their pro-labor, pro-feminist beliefs. Convinced the film is a recruitment tool for the Communist Party, Jack will do whatever is necessary to shut the production down. Featuring a star-studded cast that also includes Giancarlo Esposito, David Strathairn, Lisa Edelstein, Raymond Cruz, Troy Evans, Kirk Baltz, John Getz, and Lela Loren, The Big Lie is an explosive story of conspiracy, betrayal, and temptation that resonates with today’s divided America and reminds us all that fear spreads faster than the truth.
The Big Lie is based on a story by Paul Jarrico, who died in 1997 after asking director/producer John Mankiewicz to help adapt it for the screen. After his death, Mankiewicz and his partner, the director Aaron Lipstadt, began shopping it to studios and TV networks, but it was never a fit for one reason or the other. When Fresh Produce Media was formed in 2020, with the vision of bringing dramatic “Hollywood-caliber” productions to life over the medium of audio, Mankiewicz and Lipstadt linked up with Fresh Produce CEO Jason Ross to tell their story on Audible. To truly make the project as high-level as possible, the team brought in GRAMMY-award winning, Golden Globe and Emmy-nominated composer David Mansfield (Heaven’s Gate, TransAmerica, Broken Trail). The authentic 1950s soundscape was created by Emmy-nominated sound designers Joshua Paul Johnson (Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road, Jane) and Peter Bawiec (Modern Family, Midway). Writer Jamie Napoli took the lead with the script while Matt Schrader (Blockbuster) produced, and Eyde Belasco assembled the blockbuster cast: Jon Hamm, John Slattery, David Strathairn, Giancarlo Esposito, Kate Mara, Ana de la Reguera, and many more. Unlike so many other podcasts created and conceived of during the pandemic, every effort was made to have the cast act out and record the series together, in-person, to best evoke the emotions needed for the script.
The Big Lie has been one of the year’s standout fiction podcasts and miniseries by all measures: it premiered at the Tribeca Festival with a red carpet, Hollywood-glam party and listening session befitting of the podcast’s subject matter; it was written about in The New Yorker, The Daily Beast, The Guardian, Variety, Deadline, and others; and has earned an Ambie Award Nomination for Best Fiction series.