Surviving Jeffrey Epstein is only the beginning of telling the complete story of the women who survived the billionaire financier’s sex trafficking network. Ahead of the premiere on Lifetime, the executive producers talked to the Television Critics Association about the documentary, including how the recent arrest of Ghislaine Maxwell shows that this is far from over.
There May Be a Follow-Up Piece As Maxwell Goes to Trial
Executive producer Annie Sundberg said that it was “crazy timing” that as they were finishing up this documentary, Maxwell was arrested for her alleged part in Epstein’s sex trafficking ring.
“Clearly the story’s not over … there may be a follow-up,” said Sundberg.
EP Bob Friedman added, “It’s still amazing for all of us who were involved that after the arrest in 2008, that Jeffrey Epstein — and at this point, Ghislaine, from what we’ve heard — were not social pariahs, that they continued to remain established and established figures in global, and financial, and political circles, and the political elite that they did. So, I can’t imagine that there won’t be more to talk about and clearly, we feel very fortunate that we were able — from a timing standpoint — to get the story out about Ghislaine, because she was such an important piece of this story.”
Lifetime Is Partnering With Rise to Run a Special PSA During the Broadcast
Lifetime has partnered with Rise to run a special PSA during the airings of the documentary to encourage other survivors to use their voice to RISE UP and help establish Survivors Bills of Rights in their states. Lifetime will also run a PSA from RAINN to provide hotline resources for those in need.”
In a virtual panel for the event, the executive producer Bob Friedman told reporters that they are telling the survivors’ stories in their own words.
“The story that we’ve told has been pretty much in the survivors’ own words, the survivors who bear this burden of abuse. Abuse that dare we all believe is hidden in plain sight,” said Friedman. “And we think that we go into some of the stories and the reason why with the making of the sex trafficking pyramid scheme, that was recent. We take a look at the recruiting that existed, the grooming of potential victims, and how allegedly Ghislaine Maxwell trained recruiters to create this abuse pipeline that we live through.”
He added that this is not the end of the story, saying, “We all believe that there will be some future revelations. The trial is scheduled to begin in July of next year, but we believe that we’ve addressed many of the questions that have not been addressed in the past.”
Director Ricki Stern added that it was so important to the filmmakers to emphasize to the survivors that this was not your run-of-the-mill news piece.
“It was really important that we spoke to [the survivors] and said to them, ‘This is going to be different than a news piece. We really want to spend time with you and have your story portrayed in your own words.’ There’s so much strength in these women’s stories, in their history, to understand where they come from and where they are today is so powerful,” said Stern. “And that was something that we wanted to make sure that the series portrayed. Lifetime is, of course, the perfect place for this series because they really value and they spotlight the women’s voices. And so, it was a lengthy process … It was a lengthy process to get to women. Because there had been so much attention, quick news stories that were done, that we had to really differentiate the series, because it is four hours told in their voices.”
Surviving Jeffrey Epstein airs Sunday, August 9 and Monday, August 10 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Lifetime.