Docuseries will be the first of its kind to extensively examine the decades-long scandal uncovered in the Sports Illustrated digital cover story by Executive Editor Jon Wertheim
LOS ANGELES – February 22, 2021 – Smokehouse Pictures and Sports Illustrated Studios announced today that they will produce a docuseries based on Wertheim’s groundbreaking digital cover story detailing prolific alleged abuse at Ohio State University (OSU). The series will further detail the scandal that lasted three decades and left many questioning how this victimization went largely unreported.
Sports Illustrated executive editor and senior writer Jon Wertheim – one of the most accomplished sports journalists in America – broke the story on the October 5, 2020 digital cover: “Why Aren’t More People Talking About the Ohio State Sex Abuse Scandal?” The in-depth expose revealed the extent of Ohio State’s sports doctor Richard Strauss’ alleged sexual assaults and manipulation of over 350 (reported) student athletes.
Jon Wertheim explained: “This article uncovers the most widespread sexual abuse scandal in the history of American higher education. It is a story about power, abuse, enabling and the hierarchy of college sports that had been concealed for far too long. Because these courageous men made the decision to remain silent no longer, we can finally begin to hold the abuser, and those who were complicit in their silence, accountable for their actions – and inactions. With the help of 101 Studios, Authentic Brands Group and Smokehouse Pictures, their voices and stories—harrowing as they are-will be amplified.”
For the first time ever – UFC Heavyweight Champion and OSU alum Mark Coleman provided Wertheim with his detailed account and disclosed Strauss’ administration of anabolic steroids. In addition, Coleman (among others) has alleged that Congressman Jim Jordan knowingly ignored Strauss’ alleged abuse to the athletes as he served as the OSU Assistant Wrestling Coach from 1986-1994. No one believed that the alphas of campus, the star wrestlers and NFL-bound football players, could be sexually abused by a man.
Even after the school identified merit behind Strauss’ alleged abuse claims, he was simply and quietly let go. No formal reports were ever filed, and he remained on the university’s payroll as a tenured professor. Strauss’ behavior continued unchecked when he was able to open a private men’s clinic in Columbus, just down the street from campus. He continued to operate this clinic until his death by suicide in 2005.
George Clooney and Grant Heslov from Smokehouse Pictures emphasized: “We’re very pleased to partner with 101 Studios and Sports Illustrated in bringing this devastating and tragic story to light.”
“It’s enormously important that we continue to shine a light on this ongoing, painful story and further explore its wide-ranging effects” said Marc Rosen, President, Entertainment at Authentic Brands Group, who in partnership with 101 Studios formed Sports Illustrated Studios in 2020. Rosen continued: “We are lucky to be able to tap into the exceptional journalism of Sports Illustrated’s Jon Wertheim and we are incredibly proud and humbled to bring even more awareness to his investigation.”
Strauss’ hundreds of victims continue to seek justice. Only 162 have reached a settlement of $250,000 each and there are over 250 claims still pending.
George Clooney and Grant Heslov of Smokehouse Pictures will serve as Executive Producers along with Jon Wertheim; Jamie Salter, Corey Salter, Marc Rosen of Sports Illustrated Studios and David Glasser, Ron Burkle, Bob Yari of 101 Studios.
Andrew Kramer of Loeb & Loeb negotiated the deal on behalf of Sports Illustrated Studios.
About Smokehouse Pictures:
Smokehouse Pictures is a motion picture and television company founded in 2006 by George Clooney and Grant Heslov. Smokehouse’s film Good Night and Good Luck, garnered a total of six Academy nominations including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. The company also produced the Academy Award-winning Best Picture Argo, the Academy Award nominated The Ides of March and August: Osage County as well as: Suburbicon, Money Monster, Our Brand is Crisis, The Monuments Men, The American, Leatherheads and The Men Who Stare at Goats. Clooney and Heslov also directed and served as Executive Producers on the Golden Globe and Emmy nominated Catch-22, a six-part limited series for Hulu based on the Joseph Heller novel. Their most recent project was The Midnight Sky for Netflix which Clooney starred in and directed. Smokehouse is currently in production on the Clooney directed The Tender Bar for Amazon.
About Sports Illustrated Studios
Established in 2020, Sports Illustrated Studios is a media production company that develops, produces, and distributes long-form film, television, and audio content based on the stories of world-class Sports Illustrated journalists from today, tomorrow, and the past 65 years of the brand’s history. Sports Illustrated Studios seeks to reimagine and recreate the most memorable moments in sports history in cutting edge and unexpected ways for audiences worldwide. Upcoming projects include Paradise Found based on the true story of high school football coach Rick Prinz; the feature film Red Rose Crew based on the riveting true story of the US international women’s crew team and the docuseries Covers, a behind-the-scenes look at Sports Illustrated’s top cover stories of all time.