“House of Cards” creator and showrunner Beau Willimon and his Westward producing partner Jordan Tappis will work with “Crazy Rich Asians” co-financier SK Global to develop a TV series based on the blockbuster novel “Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World.”
SK Global and Willimon’s independent film, TV and music studio Westward will independently finance and oversee all stages of development and production.
David Henry Hwang — the three-time Pulitzer finalist and playwright, librettist, screenwriter and Columbia University professor, known for his works “M. Butterfly,” “Yellow Face” and “Soft Power” — will write and executive produce. Other executive producers include Willimon, Tappis, SK Global co-CEOs John Penotti and Charlie Corwin and SK Global president of TV Marcy Ross. Actor Michelle Yeoh will also be a producer on the series.
“Billion Dollar Whale” is an inside account of 1Malaysia Development Berhad’s shocking money-laundering scandal that exposed a secret nexus of elite wealth, banking, Hollywood and politics. Written by Wall Street Journal reporters Tom Wright and Bradley Hope and published in 2018 by Hachette Books, the book centers on the heist’s supposed mastermind, the international fugitive Jho Low, and his adventures in Hollywood, where he financed Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street,” and Wall Street itself, where he made Goldman Sachs millions while defrauding investors.
The estimated $5 billion theft ranks among the biggest cases of fraud in history. It remains under investigation by authorities in Malaysia, Singapore, Luxembourg, Switzerland and the U.S..
“It’s hard to overstate the cultural impact of this story in Asia and around the world. It’s both a tale of financial greed and deceit, and a darkly comedic social satire,” said Penotti and Corwin in a statement.
Willimon and Tappis said that Westward is drawn to “stories that reflect the complexity of the times we live in, centering on enigmatic and surprising characters” as well as “innovative ways to produce work in a quickly shifting entertainment landscape.”
“We’re thrilled to be able to bring this incredible story to life for a global audience,” they said.
SK Global is also at work on the limited series “Thai Cave Rescue” for Netflix, co-produced and co-directed by Jon M. Chu and Nattawut “Baz” Poonpiriya, the Netflix series “Delhi Crime,” two upcoming films for Disney Plus that are part of Indonesia’s Bumilangit Cinematic Universe and other productions currently shooting in South Africa, France and Mexico. Additionally, the company is developing the project “The Baccarat Machine,” in which Awkwafina is set to star, and, with Sony, an adaptation of “Sex and Vanity,” the latest novel from “Crazy Rich Asians” author Kevin Kwan.
Recent SK Global releases include the film “Hell or High Water,” the Apple TV+ feature “Palmer” starring Justin Timberlake and the Indonesian box office hit “Impetigore,” which was selected as the country’s submission to the 2021 Oscar race for best international feature film.
The company has operations in L.A., New York, Mumbai and Singapore.
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