Michael Keaton has signed on for his first leading role on television in quite a while.
The “Birdman” and “Spotlight” alum will star in and executive produce a new Hulu series about the opioid crisis called “Dopesick,” which has received a straight-to-series order from the streamer.
The eight-episode limited series hails from “Empire” co-creator Danny Strong, and will be directed by “Rain Man” helmer Barry Levinson. “Dopesick” is based on the bestselling book of the same name by Beth Macy and is being produced by Fox 21 Television Studios and The Littlefield Company.
The series is described as “an ambitious, harrowing, and compelling look into the epicenter of America’s struggle with Opioid addiction,” taking the audience from a distressed Virginia mining community, to the hallways of the DEA, and to the opulence of “one percenter” Big Pharma Manhattan. It will aim to offer human portraits of the various affected families and their intersecting stories, holding up a mirror to where America is right now, while shining a hopeful light on the heroes battling the worst drug epidemic in the nation’s history history.
Keaton will play the role of Samuel Finnix, an old-school doctor who approaches his practice with kindness and compassion, but finds himself embroiled in Big Pharma’s deadly secret.
“The minute we met with Danny Strong about Beth Macy’s bestselling book, we immediately knew it was the kind of groundbreaking series we just had to bring to Hulu. Danny’s unflinching and deeply compelling take on America’s opioid crisis will bring to life one of the most important stories impacting our culture. Add to that the cinematic vision of Barry Levinson and the extraordinary talent of Michael Keaton, and we’ve got an undeniable series that perfectly embodies our Hulu Originals brand,” said Craig Erwich, SVP of originals at Hulu.
News of the show’s order comes around five months after Hulu’s streaming rival Netflix ordered a scripted opioid crisis series of its own from “Narcos: Mexico” showrunner Eric Newman and Peter Berg. Another opioid drama “Hightown” was recently renewed for a second season at Starz.
Executive producers on “Dopesick” include Strong, Levinson, Macy, John Goldwyn, Warren Littlefield, and Karen Rosenfelt.
“Although we were sharply aware of and empathetic to the horrifying pain caused by the Opioid crisis for millions in this country, we were blown away when Warren Littlefield showed us Beth Macy’s book ‘Dopesick.’ Consequently, Danny Strong had been crafting his own telling of the opiate epidemic and in typical Danny form, it was mesmerizing. The fact that Warren and Danny are collaborating on this is a studio’s dream. Together with Barry Levinson and Michael Keaton, we have every reason to believe this important story will be one of the tv events of the coming year,” added Fox 21 TV Studios president Bert Salke.