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Award Winning Podcast Bone Valley To Become Scripted Television Series

Award Winning Podcast Bone Valley To Become Scripted Television Series

April 10, 2024

Lava for Good co-founders Jason Flom and Jeff Kempler, along with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Gilbert King, will partner with Oscar-winning film and television producer Cathy Schulman’s Welle Entertainment and Primary Wave Music to develop and produce a multi-season scripted television series inspired by Lava for Good’s award-winning podcast Bone Valley. Veteran screenwriter and TV producer Dana Stevens will adapt.

Written and hosted by King along with producer and researcher Kelsey Decker, the show chronicles the chilling story of Leo Schofield, the Central Florida man who was wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for killing his wife, Michelle. Schofield has spent over three decades in prison — even after another incarcerated man, Jeremy Scott, confessed in detail to the crime. The attention that King and the podcast have brought to the case was cited in Schofield’s most recent parole hearing in May of 2023, which resulted in Schofield being transferred to the Everglades Re-Entry Center. A new parole hearing date has been set for this month.

To date, Bone Valley has been downloaded over 10 million times, topping podcast charts and critics’ choice lists around the world. It was the subject of a special episode of ABC’s 20/20 and topped “Best of 2022” lists in numerous countries, recognized by critics from VultureThe New Yorker, and Newsweek to The GuardianSlate and Lifehacker. Bone Valley also received honors from the podcast and audio community when it was selected as a winner at the Ambie Awards for Best Documentary Podcast and Best Reporting, as well as at the Signal Awards, winning Gold and Listener’s Choice honors in the Documentary category.

“Gilbert and Kelsey’s brilliant work has led us all on a powerful journey — shining a light on Leo’s case first with the podcast and now expanding to a television audience through a scripted series,” said Kempler. “With Welle, we will move deeper into this story and bring more attention and advocacy to Leo’s case and to the plight of others who have experienced the nightmare of being wrongfully convicted.”

Schulman, who has a proven track record of producing impactful and thought-provoking content, is excited to bring Bone Valley to a wider audience. “I am thrilled to be working with Lava for Good and Primary Wave on this important project,” she said. “The story of Leo Schofield and Michelle’s murder is one that resonates deeply, as it reveals flaws in the American criminal justice system, and I am honored to help bring not only this case but others the series will cover to the screen.”

“As an author, I’m always searching for stories that not only uncover the truth, but that challenge the status quo,” said King. “Leo’s story was particularly compelling because it exposes the complex and often flawed process of criminal justice. Through meticulous research and firsthand accounts, we’ve been able to bring attention to the case of an innocent, honorable man who has been imprisoned and overlooked for far too long. I hope that the work we’ve done will help bring about much-delayed justice and inspire others to question what they believe about truth and our legal system.”

Stevens, who recently wrote Sony TriStar’s box office hit The Woman King, starring Viola Davis and produced by Schulman, reteams with Schulman on Bone Valley.

“Like millions of ‘Bone Valley’ listeners, I was deeply affected by Leo’s emotional resilience, and the surprising twists and turns of his ordeal,” said Stevens. “The show will also follow Gilbert and Kelsey as they tenaciously solve the crime that still haunts so many: who killed Michelle? It’s a tense murder mystery and an eye-opening look at how easy it is for a young person with no resources to be wrongfully convicted.”

“Primary Wave’s partners, Welle and Lava, each create compelling content that can also change the world. As Lava’s partner in developing ‘Bone Valley’ and other podcast storytelling, we were thrilled to introduce them to Cathy and are inspired to support this collaboration for what continues to be an important initiative,” said Ramon Villa, COO of Primary Wave Music.

In addition to the television show, King and Decker will return for a second season of Bone Valley this year. In the meantime, a December 2023 bonus episode of the series updated listeners on Schofield’s time at the Everglades Re-Entry Center, as he awaits his next opportunity for parole and his family and team continue the fight to clear his name. What’s more, King will be writing a book about the Schofield case for Flatiron, a division of Macmillan. The book, Bone Valley, will detail King and Decker’s search for answers, Leo Schofield’s search for grace, and Scott’s search for connection. It will be published in 2025.

Bone Valley is distributed by iHeartPodcasts, who recently honored Lava for Good with its 2024 Social Impact Icon Award. Fans can listen to the series on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, the iHeartRadio app and on all popular podcast streaming platforms. Subscribers to Lava for Good+ on Apple Podcasts get early access to special content and new episodes before they become available to the general public.

About Lava for Good:

Lava for Good creates standout original content, podcasts, and experiences that deliver unparalleled access and insights into the heart of social justice in America, and inspire action towards a more informed, empathic, and just society.

Founded and led by renowned music executive, children’s book author, and philanthropist Jason Flom along with Lava Media COO Jeff Kempler, Lava for Good’s #1-charting lineup of podcasts, produced in association with Signal Co. No1, has been downloaded over 70 million times and is credited with influencing exonerations, clemencies, pardons, legislation and reforms nationwide. The lineup, hosted by leading experts, attorneys, activists, formerly incarcerated persons, and journalists on the frontlines of human rights and justice movements, currently includes Bone Valley, Earwitness, Erased: The Murder of Elma Sands, Wrongful Conviction, Wrongful Conviction with Maggie Freleng, The War on Drugs, False Confessions, Junk Science, and more, and is available on all popular podcast platforms.

About Welle Entertainment:

Welle Entertainment is a film and television production company committed to developing and producing content that appeals to diverse audiences and a leading content supplier for major motion picture studios, networks, and streamers. Cathy Schulman, Best Picture Academy Award® winning producer and veteran film executive, founded the company in 2017 and is the president and CEO of Welle.

Most recently, Schulman served as producer on Amazon’s upcoming romantic dramedy THE IDEA OF YOU starring Anne Hathaway and Nick Galitzine and directed by Michael Showalter. Schulman also produced the epic action drama THE WOMAN KING, directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood and starring Viola Davis. Released by Sony/TriStar Pictures in 2022, the global box office hit was also Golden Globe-nominated and named as one of AFI’s top ten films of 2022.

Schulman, who recently added screenwriting to her repertoire, wrote and produced the Emmy-nominated Showtime series THE FIRST LADY starring Viola Davis, Michelle Pfeiffer and Gillian Anderson.

Welle also produced Martin Campbell directed Liam Neeson starrer MEMORY (Amazon), global YA hit FIVE FEET APART (Lionsgate), directed by Justin Baldoni and starring Cole Sprouse and Haley Lu Richardson, and OTHERHOOD (Netflix), directed by Cindy Chupack, starring Angela Bassett, Patricia Arquette and Felicity Huffman and ranked in the streamer’s top ten hits of 2019.

Schulman’s many noteworthy credits include Oscar Best Picture winner CRASH, THE ILLUSIONIST, DARFUR NOW, BAD MOMS and EDGE OF SEVENTEEN.