EXCLUSIVE: In a competitive situation with seven companies bidding, Universal Television has landed the rights to the San Francisco Chronicle article “The Jessica Simulation: Love and Loss In the Age Of A.I.” to develop as a limited series, sources said. It will be written and executive produced by Blindspot creator Martin Gero under his overall deal at the studio for his Quinn’s House production company.
Todd Hoffman’s Storied Media Group, which represents Hearst Newspapers, including SF Chronicle, and featured the article on the company’s digital platform StoryScout, handled the auction, with the deals still being finalized.
Published on July 23, “The Jessica Simulation”, written by Jason Fagone, quickly went viral. It tells the story of Joshua Barbeau, a 33-year-old man who had lost his fiancée, Jessica, to a rare liver disease eight years earlier. The death of the woman he loved was too much to bear. Not able to move on, Joshua comes across an incredibly advanced yet mysterious AI-designed website which offers him him to speak with her one last time to help him heal. He is able to reconnect with Jessica through the unique program and have actual text conversations with the AI version of his dead fiancée. The story is about grief and finding the power internally to move forward.
SMG also represented Barbeau in the deal, which is believed to be in the mid-six figures.
Gero’s first series under his Universal TV overall deal was NBC’s pandemic-era comedy series Connecting. He is repped by The Framework Collective and Ziffren Brittenham.