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Macy’s “Dopesick” may soon come to a television near you

August 18, 2018

A saga of opioid addiction with Roanoke as a nerve center may become a TV show.

Beth Macy’s “Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America” has been snapped up by the studios behind “Homeland” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” in an effort to adapt the book for the television screen.

Fox 21 Television Studios and The Littlefield Company announced the optioning of “Dopesick” in a news release on Friday.

“Dopesick,” the latest book from Macy, a journalist and former Roanoke Times reporter, chronicles the rise of OxyContin in Appalachia and the subsequent addiction to opioids that swept the region and country.

Macy spent years following the lives of users and their loved ones. She weaves their heartache through a tale of American addiction.

“I think that if and when the TV series happens, it will bring a lot of awareness to people of how we got here, and how much more work we need to do to get out of this epidemic,” Macy said.

While Macy’s previous works have been optioned, this will be the first time she serves as one of the screenwriters.

“This was a book that was so personal to me,” Macy said. “I’ll get to have input with the stories, and I’ll be speaking for the people in my book, so that’s exciting.”

The studios are still seeking a main screenwriter. A spokesman at Fox 21 said it’s too soon to say whether filming could come to the Roanoke area, or whether the show will be closer to a documentary or a fictional portrayal of the opioid epidemic.

Macy will serve as an executive producer of the project, alongside Warren Littlefield. Her literary agents, Peter McGuigan and Richie Kern, will be producers, according to the studios.

Macy’s book shot up on the bestsellers lists after its release from Little, Brown on Aug. 7.

Studio executives praised Macy’s book.

“Beth’s dissection and thoughtful emotion in detailing the opioid crisis that now plagues our country, is as compelling a story as I have seen,” Bert Salke, president of Fox 21 Television Studios, said in comments in the news release. “Every once in a while, you come across a piece of material that is that rare diamond in that it’s an incredibly arresting story, and, even more, is timely and important.”

Littlefield also zeroed in on the emotion that emanates from Macy’s work.

“Through deeply emotional true stories and an understanding of the systems that failed us, Beth has painted a powerful and important portrait of our country,” Littlefield said in the release.

“Until America better understands the issue it will remain a place where getting addicted is much easier than securing addiction treatment. Television can shine a klieg light on this.”

“Dopesick” ranks fifth on The New York Times bestsellers list for print and e-book nonfiction books, as of sales recorded Aug. 11.

Macy has also won high praise and sales for her previous nonfiction books, “Truevine” and “Factory Man.”

She will appear at no less than nine upcoming regional events related to the release of “Dopesick.” Those can be found at http://bit.ly/2wcB9zd.

Macy said she hopes a TV show will create greater awareness of addiction, such as a concept behind the book’s title: that many addicts seek their next hit not for a high, per se, but to stave off dopesickness.

“I think it will bring it to so many more people; so many people watch TV,” Macy said. “It will bring greater understanding to the issue.”

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