Chameleon: Hollywood Con Queen
Chameleon unspools the story of one of the weirdest and wildest scams in history. Over the past seven years, hundreds of Hollywood gig workers have been fooled into flying to Indonesia for a movie that doesn’t exist. This deeply reported show from two veteran investigative reporters examines the cost of wanting something so badly that you see only what you want to see, contrasted against how information — and disinformation — can be used as a weapon to prey on true believers; the way the imbalance between powerful women and below-the-line men in the film biz plays out in the era of #MeToo; and the nature of Hollywood, a place where everyone is pretending to be someone else.
Three years ago, on the day Prince died, I met a woman named April Balascio in the conference room of an Ohio law office. I was working on a story about her father, Edward Wayne Edwards, that I thought would end up in a magazine. It's taken a lot of turns since then. On July 18, 2019, the culmination of three years of us working together — and, for the last 18 months, with Pineapple Street producer Jonathan Menjivar — landed in podcast apps around the world. The Clearing is an 8-episode investigation of April's life, and also her father's life. It's a true crime show that, we hope, comes at things a little differently. It was #1 on iTunes within two days of launch and has been Apple's #1 show ever since, as well as the highest ranked narrative show on Spotify.