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The Hollywood Reporter

Jon Hamm to Star in Hostage Drama From Shawn Ryan (Exclusive)

By Lesley Goldberg

November 15, 2023

Shawn Ryan, the prolific producer behind CBS’ SWAT and Netflix’s The Night Agent, is adding another show to his purview.

Ryan is teaming with Jon Hamm to adapt the podcast American Hostage as a live-action TV series, with the Mad Men Emmy winner attached to reprise his role from the narrative series.

American Hostage is described by Sony as a “psychological thriller that tells the harrowing true story of Fred Heckman, a beloved Indianapolis radio reporter who is thrust into the middle of a life-or-death crisis when hostage-taker, Tony Kiritsis, demands to be interviewed on his popular radio news program.”

Ryan and Eileen Myers co-wrote the script after the duo previously teamed for Amazon’s Mad Dogs. The script was completed before the writers strike but Sony, where Ryan is based with an overall deal, waited until now to shop the project to streaming services. American Hostage, where Hamm will reprise his podcast role as Heckman, is being shopped this week and early next with buyers expected to line up for the drama, which Ryan envisions as an anthology with a different hostage case every season.

“I grew up in the Midwest when this happened and never heard about it. The more research I did, the more I listened to the podcast, it’s just this incredible sequence of events,” Ryan told The Hollywood Reporter. “This idea of when a newsman goes from covering the news to being part of it — is it worth it to do that to save a life or two? — the ethical questions we’re addressing have a ton of resonance to the anger that exists in our country right now.”

Ryan said he recruited Myers to the project because both of her parents worked for ABC News in the 1970s and she had a lot of interesting things to say that were impactful on the subject considering the series is set in the same decade.

What’s more, Ryan noted that he envisions the American Hostage TV series as a prestige series but one that “can be made on a manageable budget, which looks like it might be more important now than it was nine months ago,” he said in a nod to the belt tightening that is occurring across the industry. “It’s limited locations and a limited number of characters,” he added.

In addition to starring, Hamm will also serve as an exec producer on the series alongside Ryan, Myers, Connie Tavel and Ryan’s MiddKid partner Marney Hochman. Criminal Content’s Shawn Christensen and Gabriel Mason, who both exec produced the podcast, are also attached in the same role to the TV adaption. (Christensen directed the podcast.)

Hamm is currently the only cast member from the podcast who is involved with the TV take, though Ryan notes he’s open to the idea should other co-stars from the audio incarnation — Carla Gugino, Dylan Baker and Joe Perrino — want to be involved.

Ryan is repped by CAA, the Shuman Co. and Gendler & Kelly. Hamm, who is fresh off a recurring role on Apple’s The Morning Show, counts Mad Men, 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt among his credits. He’s repped by CAA, Forward Entertainment and Sloane Offer.

Criminal Content is repped by CAA and attorney Rob Szymanski.