Last year, The Daily Beast ran an immensely entertaining true crime story that seemed destined to be adapted to the screen. While there’s still talk about a potential feature adaptation, HBO got there first with a new docuseries: McMillions. The six-part documentary series tracks the story of Jerome Jacobson, an ex-cop turned security auditor who found a way to rig McDonald’s popular Monopoly game, racking up millions in the process. Watch the McMillions trailer below.
For more than a decade, former cop Jerome Jacobson found a way to rig the McDonald’s Monopoly game to his advantage – and the general public had no idea. Now, HBO is ready to tell the tale with McMillions. Here’s the synopsis:
This documentary series chronicles the stranger-than-fiction story of an ex-cop turned security auditor who rigged the McDonald’s Monopoly game promotion for a decade, stealing millions of dollars and building a vast network of co-conspirators across the U.S. The series draws on exclusive firsthand accounts and archival footage, featuring: the FBI agents who brought down the gaming scam; McDonald’s corporate executives, who were themselves defrauded; the lawyers who tried the case; and the culprits and prizewinners who profited from the complicated scheme, as well as the individuals who were often unwittingly duped into being a part of the ruse.
Per Wikipedia, “Jacobson’s associates won almost all of the top prizes including cash and cars between 1995 and 2000, including McDonald’s giveaways that did not have the Monopoly theme. The associates netted over $24 million. While the fraud appeared to have been perpetrated by only one key employee of the promotion company, and not by the company’s management, eight people were originally arrested, leading to a total of 21 indicted individuals with members of the Colombo Mafia family believed to have been involved in the fraud at some point.”
It’s a wild story, and will no doubt make for an enthralling docu-series. Meanwhile, Ben Affleck is currently set to helm a feature film based on the same story, with a script from Deadpool writers Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese.
As the final moments of the HBO Docuseries McMillions came to a close, the show pulled its own winning Monopoly piece out of the freezer by revealing the surprising identity of the informant who brought the entire scam crashing down.
Over six episodes the true crime series explored the insane true story of how a crooked marketing employee engineered a massive criminal conspiracy that defrauded McDonald’s out of $24 million and duped others into an intricate web of mafia ties and federal charges. The whole thing happened right under the fast food giant’s nose, and most of the culprits believe it would’ve carried on without a hitch if someone hadn’t placed an anonymous call to the FBI months before it became entangled in the War on Terror.
After throwing audiences a curve ball in the penultimate episode by accusing mobster Jerry Colombo‘s brother Frank of being the informant, the final episode dropped a bombshell by revealing the Colombos’ mother placed the call to the FBI. Following Jerry’s death in a suspicious car accident, his mother “Ma Colombo” wanted to maintain custody of her grandson Francesco, so she ratted out her daughter-in-law Robin, who was already in prison for theft and forgery, in the hopes of keeping her out of the picture. What Ma Colombo didn’t know was how far-reaching the Monopoly scheme went, and her anonymous tip ended up sparking a massive FBI investigation.
Discovering this never-before-seen detail was a huge boon for filmmakers James Lee Hernandez and Brian Lazarte who were actually following the case before The Daily Beast article became a viral hit and sent them in a panic that the docuseries would be derailed. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case, and in the course of filming, they literally had the informant’s identity dropped right in their laps. From a very enlightening interview at Vulture:
The finale delivers big! Frank and Heather tell us who the informant is, and it’s stunning. When in the process did you find out this information?
James Lee Hernandez: It was at the end. When we originally talked to them, they threw it out there. That’s in the show. We were at their house late at night, and Frank just throws out, “You know what you guys don’t have? You don’t know who the informant is.” So we’re like, “Do you know?” And he’s like, “Well, I gotta look into it. Talk to some people.”
Brian Lazarte: It came out of nowhere. We got invited to come back, and they just dropped it in the middle of the interview. Then moments later, Vinny, their son, shows up in a McDonald’s outfit. [Laughs.] There were many jaw-dropping moments, but this was definitely the biggest one. Like, holy shit, they just put that out there.
The reveal was even more explosive because, by that point in the episode, Ma Colombo and Robin were portrayed as very close despite the nasty custody battle over...
Although “The L Word: Generation Q” may have tried desperately to speak to a “new generation” of queer women and non-binary folks, fresher creative voices quickly rose to the top in its place. Though people still watched. Showtime’s “Work in Progress” was the best queer comedy of the year, Netflix’s “Feel Good” was an unexpected delight, and “Vida” is returning just in time for queer audiences to catch up on the best show about queer women of color on TV. Yet another contender released a promising first trailer today: “Betty” is a stylish and youthful portrait of Brooklyn teen skaters that already appears extremely queer.
The six-part half-hour arrives on HBO from filmmaker Crystal Moselle, who quickly made waves in 2015 with her her riveting documentary hybrid “The Wolfpack.” “Betty” is adapted from her second feature, the similarly hybridized “Skate Kitchen,” which followed a group of teenage girl skaters in New York City. The film premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival to positive reviews and was released by Magnolia Pictures that year.
In his B+ review of “Skate Kitchen” out of Sundance, IndieWire’s Eric Kohn wrote: “The streetwise alternative to ‘Girls,’ the movie weaves together such a complete vision of its subjects that the rest of the world barely exists. Of course, there's a long-standing precedent to capturing this subculture — ‘Kids’ did it, with more adventurous storytelling twists, more than 20 years ago — but Moselle's subjects hold their own with the surprising ability to clarify their emotions through the cathartic process of hanging out.”
“Betty” features many of the film’s original stars, most of whom had not acted before, including Kabrina Adams, Dede Lovelace, Nina Moran, Rachelle Vinberg, and Ajani Russell. All accomplished skaters in their own right, the first trailer shows the charismatic crew navigating various crushes and friendship trials with compelling panache and humor.
“Betty” is directed, co-written, and executive produced by Moselle. Lesley Arfin and Patricia Breen are also co-writers. Arfin, who also EPs, is a comedy writer best known for co-creating the Netflix series “Love” with Judd Apatow and Paul Rust.
HBO will release “Betty” beginning May 1 at 11 pm ET. Check out the exciting first trailer below: