Jake Gyllenhaal is getting into the TV game.
The Oscar-nominated actor’s production company Nine Stories Prods. is developing an anthology series from A+E Studios for A&E Network. The limited series will explore major American cult personas, and the first season is planned to revolve around the Jim Jones story.
Gyllenhaal’s development project was announced by Elaine Frontain Bryant, exec vice president and head of programming for A&E at the Television Critics Association press tour on Wednesday in Pasadena, Calif.
Gyllenhaal is attached as an exec producer, along with his Nine Stories producing partner Riva Marker.
“Riva and I founded Nine Stories to push creative limits, and have found a wonderful partner in A&E with this fascinating series,” Gyllenhaal said. “Jim Jones is a complex character — one who has found his way into the collective unconscious. We want to focus on the undeniable magnatism of zealots and the danger of that kind of charisma. A notion not only pertinent to cult leaders but to the geo-political climate of today.”
The Jim Jones story — which would set the stage for the inaugural season, should the project get greenlit — would focus on his cult, The Peoples Temple of the Disciples of Christ, and chronicle Jones’ path from social leader to deranged spiritual dictator to a group of followers who eventually were involved in the biggest single loss of American life in a deliberate act until the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. The Jones-led California-based congregation made headlines, shocking the world, when the group moved to Guyana where they created the eponymous infamous Jonestown commune, which in 1978, was the site of the mass murder and suicide via apparent cyanide poisoning, organized by Jones. The event left more than 900 people dead, including over 300 children, U.S. congressman Leo Ryan and many journalists.
The anthology series marks Gyllenhaal’s first foray into television producing. The “Southpaw” star previously served as a producer on his films “Nightcrawler” and “End of Watch.”