Host Malaya Rivera Drew chronicles the wild anecdotes and escapes of Hollywood’s last great showman, Don Simpson, the producer who created 80s classics such as American Gigolo, Flashdance, Beverly Hills Cop and Top Gun
NEW YORK – May 7, 2021 – Don Simpson, the producer who created classics such as American Gigolo, Flashdance, Beverly Hills Cop, and Top Gun, left his footprint in the film industry and defined Hollywood in the 80s. “The Don,” a new anthology podcast that delves into the rise and fall of Don Simpson, hosted by actress Malaya Rivera Drew and executive produced by Academy Award winner Will McCormack and David Harris Kline, investigates the bizarre circumstances surrounding Don’s fatal overdose and chronicles the sordid cast of drug dealers, Hollywood madams and crooked doctors who may have been complicit in Don’s infamous death. The first six episodes of the 24-episode series will launch on May 11 and can be heard on iHeartRadio and everywhere podcasts are heard. Listen to the official trailer now.
The anthology podcast mirrors Don’s crash and burn narrative— beginning with Don’s early days fighting to break into the film industry through his meteoric rise as a blockbuster producer into the dark days after the failure of Days of Thunder and his struggles with drugs and alcohol. When Don passed away in January of 1996, the Los Angeles coroner revealed that his corpse was the most toxic in the history of California autopsy with over 22 different pharmaceuticals in his body at the time of death. The podcast delves into the many questions regarding his career and untimely death, such as his controversial relationship with his personal doctor, fitness guru, and indie filmmaking partner, Dr. Stephen Ammerman, who passed away just six months earlier from an overdose in Don’s pool house.
“This new anthology style podcast shows how audio has the ability to paint a picture perfect experience for listeners,” said McCormack. “The powerful use of narration and story-telling sets the scene, allowing listeners to go back in time to the 1980’s, an iconic time in Hollywood for many reasons, but also a defective time. Although Don Simpson was flawed in many ways, this podcast works hard to capture how influential he was and shares his complete story and I think our listeners will appreciate that.”
“We are excited to work with iHeart on a series that is so quintessentially the 1980s,” said Kline. “We all have a soft spot for 80s nostalgia — we love the movies, the music, the fashion, and how earnestly people took themselves back then. There was no irony, no internet, and no social media. The premise of our series is how Don was a rags-to-riches movie producer that shaped and influenced the decade that we all love. However, there was a dark side to Don and his massive influence over mainstream American culture. We peel back the layers, and behind the shallow glamour of the 80s, we find something much darker and more nefarious.”
“As an actress and as a woman of color, I was shocked but not surprised to learn of how virulent and rampant toxic masculinity was in Hollywood back then,” said Rivera Drew. “This podcast is meant to be an entertaining, high octane ride—the rise and fall of a creative genius. Don was, above all else, an entertainer. But we also expose a deep underbelly of Hollywood and the systemic issues that we are still grappling with today.”
The anthology podcast will also explore how Don’s outlandish, alpha-male behavior was not only tolerated in the film business but encouraged by the high-ranking executives who profited greatly off his signature style of filmmaking, leading to one hit after another (American Gigolo, Flashdance, Beverly Hills Cop, Top Gun, Days Of Thunder, Bad Boys) and contributed to him having arguably the greatest run of hit movies in the history of movies. “The Don” will use narration, clips, and fictional re-enactments via “lost tapes,” to take listeners behind the scenes into Hollywood’s decade of decadence, the 1980s.