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Entertainment Weekly

Movies

Monica Lewinsky, Catfish star team for HBO Max public shaming documentary

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Monica Lewinsky and MTV’s Catfish developer-star Max Joseph are turning the tables on the “public shaming epidemic” sweeping popular culture.

The unlikely duo have partnered with production company Six West on a new feature documentary titled 15 Minutes of Shame, which HBO Max announced Monday it has acquired rights to distribute via its subscription screaming service next year.

The film (directed by Joseph, who executive-produced alongside Lewinsky) will follow the collaborators as they delve into contemporary culture’s obsession with public shaming via social experiments, examinations of social behavior, and a focus on individuals who’ve been publicly shamed. “Bullies, bystanders, the media, psychologists, politicians, and experts” will also go under the microscope for the project as well.

“Monica Lewinsky is an anti-bullying activist with unparalleled authority, making her the perfect partner for this project,” said Sarah Aubrey, head of original content at HBO Max, in a press statement about the movie. “And Max’s strong advocacy for social justice and distinctive storytelling make him particularly well-suited to explore this complex modern phenomenon.”

Lewinsky has long been open about her bout with public shaming and cyberbullying in the wake of her White House sex scandal with President Bill Clinton, who was impeached in 1998 after news broke of his sexual relationship with Lewinsky (then an intern).

“Until recently (thank you, Harvey Weinstein), historians hadn’t really had the perspective to fully process and acknowledge that year of shame and spectacle,” Lewinsky wrote in a 2018 Vanity Fair essay of her own experience with public shaming, which resulted in PTSD and other trauma-related issues across the last two decades. “We now recognize that [my experience with Clinton] constituted a gross abuse of power…. The reason this is difficult is that I’ve lived for such a long time in the House of Gaslight, clinging to my experiences as they unfolded in my 20s and railing against the untruths that painted me as an unstable stalker and Servicer in Chief.”

Lewinsky’s experience with Clinton will also serve as the basis for Ryan Murphy‘s upcoming TV project Impeachment: American Crime Story. The real-life subject produced the series, which will premiere on Sept. 27, 2020, stars Booksmart‘s Beanie Feldstein as Lewinsky, American Horror Story staple Sarah Paulson as Lewinsky’s confidante Linda Tripp, and Annaleigh Ashford (Legally Blonde) as Clinton accuser Paula Jones.

15 Minutes of Shame is one of many recently-announced projects heading to the WarnerMedia streaming service next year, joining new works from Amy Schumer, Ellen DeGeneres, Lupita Nyong’o, and Danai Gurira. HBO Max will be the streaming home for both classic projects (the Studio Ghibli library, The West Wing, The Big Bang Theory) and new series (a Gossip Girl reboot and a Grease spinoff, among others) alike.

A release date for 15 Minutes of Shame has yet to be announced.

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