In the early stages of the pandemic,

Demi Moore.

I spent hours in the bathroom listening to women describe their fantasies.

I’m thinking about my ex, he says.

Melanie Griffith,

Actress plays a character named Carrie, in a Dirty Diana line, in a podcast with Ms. Moore. We’re in our old house. You know, the house we lived in when we were married.

In the scripts game, produced by Qcode Media, Mrs Moore plays a bookkeeper who secretly runs a website that broadcasts audio recordings of women who share their intimate desires. The initial plan was to record the show with the actors on a sound stage, but when the pandemic struck, the production went online and the actors contacted each other via Zoom from makeshift studios located in closets and guest rooms in their homes.

I went to different rooms, checked myself in and said which one sounds better? Ms. Moore said in a recent call to Zoom. After all, it was my bathroom.

Celebrities such as

Matthew McConaughey,

Kristen Wiig,

Rami Malek


Cynthia Erivo.

turn to scripted science fiction podcasts with the production qualities of television and film – but without the images. Together with film, television and theatre, scripted podcasts have become a popular, reasonably pandemic-free way for actors and writers to tell sophisticated stories.

According to Demi Moore, the podcast format offers possibilities for original stories, riskier subjects and ambitious concepts.

Many more will join them in 2021.


You can hear it.

James Patterson

The coldest case: A black book drama planned for next year, with

Aaron Paul


Kristen Ritter.

of Breaking Bad fame, as well as

Natalie Emmanuel,

who played Missandei in Game of Thrones.


has planned a number of series around the characters of DC Entertainment, with the premiere of Batman Unburied scheduled for 2021. Qcode, a young podcast company that focuses on scripted programs by big names like Dirty Diana, has 15 new series planned for next year.

The program is part of the evolution of audio stories, blurring the boundaries between podcasts, audio pieces and audio books. Sound, for example, produces original programs with stars, sometimes written by actors, such as

Jesse Eisenberg.


Daisy Ridley.

that do not have to fit within a certain length or size. These audio originals can consist, for example, of five-hour, 90-minute or 30-minute episodic stories.

I talk a lot about the audio renaissance we’re going through, but I really think this is just the beginning, he says.

Rachel Gyatza,

Audible’s executive vice president in charge of U.S. content. We’re not even close to what’s happening in space.

Picture of this

Actors and creators say they are attracted by the surprisingly compelling, even consuming quality of the audio medium, as well as the ability to create new worlds at a fraction of the cost and logistics of telling a story on screen.

Rob Herting,

According to the Director of Qcode, the budgets for its programmes are generally in the six-digit range, which is much lower than the cost of editing a television programme with the same plot and distribution. There is also no trip to the Atlanta Plateau. There are no costumes. Weeks away from the family don’t fly away. Actors can record programs from their homes, usually in less than a week. Moore says that with lower overhead costs and less time, it is possible to tackle original stories, riskier themes and challenging concepts that would require much more on-screen resources.

It opens up so many stories to tell.

Shana Feste,

the creator of Dirty Diana. Now I can tell a story in space if I want to. I could record it next week and it would give the impression that we are in space without the need for realistic and suggestive images. And it’s really exciting.

In fact, the Qcode From Now podcast started broadcasting episodes on Spotify and other important channels last week,

Richard Madden

plays the role of an astronaut in a spacecraft that returns to Earth 35 years after its disappearance. He played the first moments of the show…. Mission Control, can you hear me? Captain Harrow is dead! They’re all dead! – bent over a desk in an L.A. hotel room in his 40s.

Richard Madden recorded part of the new science fiction podcast From Now from a hotel room in Los Angeles.



Madden, who played Robb Stark in Game of Thrones, says he was involved in many radio dramas at the beginning of his career and remembers going through the print and studio carpet to get different sound effects. What makes podcasts like From Now special is that the sound effects are managed by sound designers and engineers, often from the television and film industry, where the actor is only responsible for his or her voice.

Brian Cox,

who plays Mr. Madden’s twin brother, is known for performances in epic blockbusters like Braveheart and TV series like Succession on HBO, but he says that radio – his main term for audio, including podcasts – is his favourite medium.

You listen to the show, he says. They’re shutting everything down. It’s all about words, and words paint pictures. And if it’s a good radio script, he’s a good director.

Eye on screen

Unlike podcasts about real crime, a genre that has seen a resurgence of interest in series, there is no mega hit for scripted podcast fiction. But the format proved popular with the public and created a new conveyor belt for storytelling on screen. Homecoming and Limetown are two early examples of podcasts that made the leap to the big screen.

We absolutely wanted our soundscape to be a very visual experience, and we wanted to create a large intellectual property that had a real engine to move forward, he says.

Rhys Wakefield,

Co-creators now. To finally get to the screen, it was part of his design from the beginning.

Now co-star Brian Cox says podcasts are just words, and words paint pictures.

Herting left his job as an agent with the Creative Artists Agency in 2019 to launch Qcode, partly because he wanted to create riskier, more original stories that, when presented in a podcast, can be more easily translated into television, film and theatre productions. He even negotiates with stars like Mrs Moore and Mrs Cox and Madden to make them executive producers and give them a first chance to put their roles on screen. It doesn’t mean it will work every time, says Herting, but I think it will certainly have its day in court if [the podcast] is broadcast and successful.

Several Qcode programs are in different stages of development for television and film, including Dirty Diana. But while she wants to get Dirty Diana out, Mrs. Feste says something will be lost if the video is added. With the sex scenes you hear, you can let your imagination run wild, she says. They’re probably a lot sexier than anything we can make on the Dirty Diana TV show. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. We’ll do our best.


— Homecoming (Gimlet Media): This series about a therapist who works with soldiers was brought to the screen by Amazon Prime Video.

Julia Roberts

in the title role.

— Mother Hacker (Gimlet Media): A mother with financial problems falls into the trap of phone phishing. A second season is planned for the beginning of 2021.

— Lunar face (

James Kim

) : Rob Herting, CEO of podcast company Qcode, calls this independent story of a young man struggling to tell his parents about his sexuality the Sundance success story of science fiction podcasts.

— Carrier (Qcode Media) : Cynthia Erivo, who received an Oscar nomination for Best Picture in a Harriet Tubman movie, plays a truck driver who picks up a load that can be more than just vegetables.

All shows are available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and other sources.

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

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