Half a dozen projects about NXIVM have emerged since the accusations arose that the group is a sex-trafficking cult that kept women as sex slaves for its founder, Keith Raniere, and that he branded them with his initials.
So far, Lifetime, HBO and ID have all announced new projects in development or production. No doubt more are coming — and a handful already exist to quell the public’s insatiable thirst for insider information about the organization that presented itself as a self-improvement group.
NXIVM first captured attention from national media and Hollywood last year after charges including sex trafficking and racketeering conspiracy were brought against some of its highest-ranking members, most notably former “Smallville” star Allison Mack and Raniere himself.
Lifetime’s is the most recent project to be announced, with a film in the works called “The NXIVM Cult: A Mother’s Nightmare” (working title). The film will tell the true story of Catherine Oxenberg, whose daughter, India, became embroiled in the darkest aspects of the group.. It focuses on “a mother who will stop at nothing to get her daughter back and exposes the intricate seductive power of Allison and Keith and the mental and physical abuse India fell victim to,” according to Lifetime. Andrea Roth has been tapped to play Oxenberg, with Peter Facinelli playing Raniere, Jasper Polish as India, and Sara Fletcher as Mack.
On June 19, Raniere was convicted of racketeering, sex trafficking, and other charges that accused him of coercing women into unwanted sex using systematic shame and humiliation. The next day, Investigation Discovery (ID) ordered a two-hour special called “The Lost Women of NXIVM,” which will explore what happened to four women who were members of NXIVM who either vanished or died under mysterious circumstances, ID said. Mixed in with the official accounts of suicide and illness are contested evidence, allegations of tainted police reports and after years of investigation — one investigator believes — murder.
“It’s a very sad day for him,” said Raniere’s lawyer, Marc Agnifilo, after his conviction. “I think he’s not surprised, but he maintains that he didn’t mean to do anything wrong.”
In April, Mack pleaded guilty to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy. Ten days later, on April 18, HBO announced it had begun production on an untitled documentary series which follows a range of people who joined the organization. Per HBO, the show “will take a deep, nuanced look at experiences of its members, spotlighting their universal desire for personal growth.”
“Prior to her arrest on the instant charges, Ms. Mack had no criminal history,” Mack’s lawyers said in a letter in August. “While the instant charges have deprived her of pursuing her acting career, Ms. Mack nevertheless is interested in contributing to society.”
A few projects were reported to have been in the works last year when the allegations first emerged. On April 25, 2018, The Hollywood Reporter said that Annapurna Television had optioned the rights to the New York Times expose on NXIVM. That same day, Deadline also reported that a TV series starring former member and actress Sarah Edmonson and her husband, actor Anthony Ames, was being developed by Brian Graden of Brian Graden Media. Ames, who also wrote a book called “Cults Inside Out: How People Get In and Can Get Out,” was set to produce. It’s unclear if the project is still in development. Brian Graden Media did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
There are also a handful of documentaries and series already out there. A&E’s series, called “A&E Investigates Cults and Extreme Belief,” has an episode dedicated to NXIVM. A 2017 documentary called “NXIVM: Multi-Level Marketing” also exists, featuring Raniere, Clare Bronfman, Nancy Salzman, Edmondson and other prominent current and former members.