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One to Watch: Apple TV+ True Crime Documentary ‘Hollywood Con Queen’

The true story of Hollywood’s biggest scam!

About ten years ago, numerous hopeful actors, filmmakers, and media industry professionals began receiving unsolicited calls from prominent female Hollywood executives. These calls came with promises of high-paying jobs, opportunities to work with industry titans, and direct access to influential decision-makers.

Drawn in by these alluring offers, they journeyed to Indonesia, where they were strung along for days, weeks, and in one instance, even longer. During this period, they drained their finances and labored intensively to demonstrate their value. Although some realized the deception sooner than others, they all ultimately fell victim to the Hollywood Con Queen, a global scam artist whose incredible schemes are explored in a three-part true-crime series on Apple TV+.

'Hollywood Con Queen'
Image Credit: Apple TV

In the gripping three-part series, Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Chris Smith delves into the astonishing tale of an international con artist who impersonated some of the most influential women in the entertainment industry. Based on the reporting of veteran investigative journalist Scott Johnson for The Hollywood Reporter and his book Hollywood Con Queen: The Hunt for an Evil Genius, various high-profile names such as Amy Pascal, Deborah Snyder and Wendi Deng Murdoch were used in the scam that left victims’ dreams and finances shattered.

After assuming the identities of top female executives, as well as famed director Doug Liman the serial imposter lured his unsuspecting targets to Indonesia with promises of life-changing career opportunities. He began by contacting his victims via email and then followed up with regular phone calls, expertly mimicking the voices and accents of these influential people.

'Hollywood Con Queen'
Image Credit: Apple TV

One victim an aspiring actor received an email that seemed destined to change his life forever. The email appeared to be from Doug Liman, the renowned Hollywood director of blockbusters such as The Bourne Identity and Edge of Tomorrow. Liman was supposedly searching for undiscovered talent for his latest film set in space, starring Tom Cruise. The actor was promised a life-changing role but was instructed by “Doug Liman” and “Donna Langley,” the chairperson of Universal Pictures, to first get in shape for the physically demanding role by undergoing martial arts training.

He was asked to pay $800 (£638) upfront for the training, which, at the time, didn’t seem unreasonable to the aspiring actor, who regularly invested in acting classes. It was simply another skill to enhance his repertoire. “Doug” would frequently call him throughout the day, often for extended periods, urging him to watch numerous films back-to-back, spanning from dusk until dawn, and meticulously analyze the characters.

'Hollywood Con Queen'
Image Credit: Apple TV

His experience took a sinister turn when “Donna” requested that he perform a scene on Skype. With her camera turned off, she shockingly asked him to remove his clothes and touch himself. Disturbed, he abruptly ended the call. When “Doug” apologized for “Donna’s” behavior but then asked for more money just minutes later, John realized he had been scammed.

The extraordinary scams, involving numerous victims, various locations, and countless impersonations, are thoroughly examined in the three-part Apple TV+ docuseries Hollywood Con Queen. Spanning many years, these scams followed a similar formula. The documentary meticulously unpacks the intricate schemes, sympathetically shares the victims’ stories, and skillfully tracks down and confronts the perpetrator.

You can watch all three episodes of Hollywood Con Queen on Apple TV+ now.

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