EXCLUSIVE: FX is developing a half-hour comedy series based on the 2021 This American Life segment “I Was a Teenage Smuggler.” The series will be penned by Joanna Calo, Carlos López Estrada and the story’s reporter Kevin Sieff. They will serve also executive produce alongside Ira Glass and Alissa Shipp of This American Life.
FX had no comment.
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The series will follow a group of Mexican teens who thanks to a loophole in U.S. immigration law that prevents anyone under 18 from being prosecuted, are enlisted by cartels to smuggle migrants across the border. The teens soon find themselves making unfathomable amounts of money and living the lives of their dreams but with an ever-ticking clock until they are legally considered adults.
Estrada is also attached to direct the pilot and produces via his Antigravity Academy banner.
Calo is the co-showrunner, executive producer, writer and director of FX’s The Bear, which is coming off its hit second season and is expected a major player in the upcoming Emmys. She is currently adapting the novel Suburban Hell for Legendary. Her other writing credits include Hacks, Netflix’s The Baby-Sitters Club, Amazon’s Undone and BoJack Horseman.
Estrada’s debut film Blindspotting premiered opening night at Sundance 2018 and was subsequently released by Lionsgate. He was nominated by the DGA for Outstanding Directorial Achievement of a First-Time Feature Film. His second film, Summertime, opened Sundance 2020 and was released theatrically the following year. His documentary film Lil Nas X: Long Live Montero premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September.
On the TV side, Estrada directed an episode of FX and Marvel’s Legion and is currently developing an original comedy show at FX in association with This American Life. He is currently writing and set to direct the reimagining of the Japanese anime Your Name for Paramount and Bad Robot.
Sieff is an international investigative correspondent at the Washington Post focusing on the places where sports intersects with politics, crime and culture. He served previously as the paper’s Mexico bureau chief, Africa bureau chief and Afghanistan bureau chief. Before joining the Post, he worked in the Washington bureau of the Financial Times and covered immigration from both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. He started his career at the Brownsville Herald in Texas.
Calo is repped at UTA, Mosaic, & McKuin Frankel Whitehead. Estrada is repped at UTA, M88 & Ziffren Brittenham. This American Life and Sieff are repped by UTA.
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