Robert Downey Jr. and his wife Susan Downey are boarding the podcasting bus.
The duo are moving into the audio medium with an investigative audio series about the Synanon cult.
The Sunshine Place tells the story of the former California-based experimental drug rehab facility and community that morphed into a dangerous and violent cult, led by its messianic founder Charles E. Diedrich.
The series comes from Team Downey and Wink Pictures for Audacy-owned Cadence13.
The Sunshine Place will tell the story of Synanon from the inside out, and by the people who lived it, charting its rise and exploring its decade-long reign over 1960s and ‘70s counterculture through the recollections of members, survivors and dedicated chroniclers. The series will be narrated by Sari Crawford, daughter of a former Synanon leader Bill Crawford.
The eight-part series will launch August 10. Listen to a trailer below.
Synanon was called “the miracle on the beach” in Santa Monica, CA during the 1960s. It started as an experimental drug rehab facility that made a radical claim: It could cure your addiction to heroin. The man responsible for this miracle? Charles E. Dederich, aka “Chuck.” Before long, Diedrich would make an even bolder claim: Synanon could cure any of your problems. All you had to do was move in. What started in a house on the beach in Santa Monica soon spread to San Francisco and Oakland, then to compounds across the state of California, and then the country, with thousands of people and millions of dollars in assets. But Diedrich would be the same man to destroy it all, along with the lives of many of his followers and, by the late ’70s, Synanon was being called a violent cult.
Exec produced by Robert Downey Jr., Susan Downey and Emily Barclay Ford for Team Downey, Josh McLaughlin for Wink Pictures and Cadence13 chief content officer Chris Corcoran, The Sunshine Place is written, directed and produced by Perry Crowell, Zak Levitt, Ian Mandt and Bill Schultz.
“While we were familiar with Synanon, it wasn’t until we heard the deeply personal stories that we could truly appreciate its epic rise and fall,” said the Downeys. “We felt this was a strangely relevant and twisted cautionary tale that had to be told about the incredible lengths people will go to seek out answers and the more dangerous ones others will provide.”
“This is a story we were immediately drawn to, and wanted to tell,” added Corcoran, Cadence 13’s founding partner. “‘It’s an honor to be able to tell incredible stories like this with such a great team in Susan, Robert, Emily, and Josh in collaboration with our brilliant C13Orginals creative team.”
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