An interview series hosted by Isaac Mizrahi, a workplace improv comedy created by Ron Howard and a true-crime deep dive into a notorious murder case from L.A.’s early 1980s punk rock scene with Penelope Spheeris highlight the first slate of original podcasts produced by Imagine Entertainment through its joint venture with radio and podcasting giant iHeartMedia.
Imagine and iHeart set a podcast production deal in December 2021. The first fruits of that partnership debut today with the launch of “Hello Isaac,” a weekly interview series featuring the fashion and media entrepreneur sitting down with notable figures such as Carson Kressley and Andy Cohen. New episodes will debut Mondays.
The full Imagine slate of six original podcasts includes a mix of unscripted titles as well as a “Employees Only,” an improv comedy created by Ron Howard that revolves around employees at a big box store; a multi-episode look at the sugar industry (“Big Sugar”); a provocative entry hosted by climate scientist Chris Turney (“Unf*cking the Future”) and an inspirational story involving Muhammad Ali (“The Tao of Muhammad Ali”).
“At Imagine Entertainment, our priority has always been telling stories that inspire and empower and we are thrilled to debut our first slate of shows as we expand into the audio space with iHeartMedia,” said Imagine Entertainment president Justin Wilkes.
Imagine’s push into high-end original audio content has been steered by Kara Welker, who heads Imagine Audio, and producer Nathan Kloke. Wilkes and Howard are executive producers across the podcast slate, while iHeartPodcasts is also a co-producer of the six titles.
“We are pleased to announce this compelling slate from iconic names like Ron Howard and Isaac Mizrahi as well as thought-provoking content exposing issues like climate change and the billion dollar sugar industry through a whole new lens,” said Conal Byrne, CEO of iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group. “Imagine Entertainment has an outstanding, decades-long reputation for bringing award-winning TV shows, features and documentaries to our screens, and we can’t wait to bring Imagine’s bespoke content to even more audiences in the audio space through iHeartPodcasts.”
Here are Imagine’s descriptions and launch dates for the six series:
- “Hello Isaac” (debuts June 12): Isaac Mizrahi is a jack of all trades – an iconic fashion designer, actor, singer, television presenter and a pretty darned good cook too! Isaac will join experts in their field to learn how their lives – the failures, the success and their process forged them into the experts they are today. Featured Guests in this raw, honest and hilarious interview show include Carson Kressley, Andy Cohen, BenDelaCreme and more. Produced with Awfully Nice.
- “Big Sugar” (June 20): “Big Sugar” is a timely story covering an epic legal battle pitting the multibillion-dollar sugar industry against the migrant laborers who harvest sugarcane, while revealing corporate malfeasance, human rights violations, DC lobbying, nutrition downfalls and the destruction of the environment. Relentless journalists and lawyers uncover a complex network of relationships, policies and transactions involving the highest levels of government and the communities where we live. From Novel and Weekday Fun.
- “Employees Only” (July 17): From creator Ron Howard, “Employees Only” is an improvised workplace comedy following employees at a big-box store who spend their break discussing, debating and arguing about the day’s news. This podcast is an innovative new approach to a sitcom, with a topical look at the news from every angle and perspective. Produced with Pretty-Fast.
- “Unfking The Future” (Aug. 8): In “Unfking the Future,” climate scientist and expedition leader Chris Turney takes listeners on an increasingly urgent environmental journey, exploring the scary reality the planet faces today and the common–sense solutions that can be implemented now to save it. Produced with Awfully Nice.
- “Peter and the Acid King” (Sept. 18): “Peter and the Acid King” takes listeners on a deep dive through the grimy, chaotic world of the Los Angeles punk scene in the early ’80s and the brutal murder of New Wave Theater TV host Peter Ivers, the dynamic performer and artist known for bringing punk rock to TV. Created by Alan Sacks (Du-Beat-E-O, Thrashin, Welcome Back Kotter) and narrated by punk historian and esteemed director Penelope Spheeris (The Decline of Western Civilization, Wayne’s World). Featured guests include Jello Biafra, Frank Salerno, and Ron Howard. Produced with Awfully Nice.
- “The Tao of Muhammad Ali” (Oct. 3): “The Tao of Muhammad Ali” from Davis Miller and based on his international best-selling book, will start with true story of how The Champ selflessly saved a bullied young boy, the creator himself, Davis Miller, from a paralyzing depression and propelled him to success through his “Tao.” The show will carry listeners through the later years when Davis and Ali are reunited while Ali was in the throes of Parkinson’s, sharing years of The Champ’s wisdom and doctrine, and that which made Ali a role model and guru for millions, including stories from many of the celebrities and people of influence who were deeply impacted and inspired by their time with Ali. Produced with Awfully Nice, with Mark Bauch serving as executive producer.
Imagine’s audio activity stems from the growth of its documentary unit during the past five years with such prominent releases as titles as “Lucy & Desi,” “Thirteen Lives” and “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week — the Touring Years.”
The iHeartMedia radio group has moved aggressively into original podcast content. The company offers a menu of 800 original series that generate more than 374 million downloads a month worldwide.
(Pictured: Isaac Mizrahi)