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  • Firebug, New Podcast from Marc Smerling’s Truth Media, Unravels Story of Serial Arsonist Burning Down Southern California
  • Jul 21, 2021

Podcast Series Sheds Light on the Mastermind behind the Horrific Los Angeles Fires in the 1980s and the 1990s

First Two Episodes Are Available Today

New York, NY – July 21, 2021 – Truth Media, in partnership with Sony Music Entertainment, announced today the premiere of its new podcast Firebug, examining the incredible truth behind a serial arsonist in Southern California in the early 1990s. Hosted by Academy Award-winning documentarian and founder of Crime Story Media Kary Antholis, Firebug explores the complex story of how a manuscript for a novel circulating throughout Hollywood helped reveal the true origins behind catastrophic fires blazing through Los Angeles. The first two episodes are available today

For ten years, a serial arsonist, also known as a firebug, terrorized Southern California, burning down businesses in broad daylight and setting whole neighborhoods ablaze. Four people died. Then a manuscript called “Points of Origin” circulated around Hollywood, telling the story of a fictional arson investigator on the trail for a serial arsonist. The fires described in that manuscript looked a lot like the fires that had been set across Southern California, leading investigators down a path to discover if “Points of Origin” was truly a work of fiction or the confessions of a prolific arsonist and murderer. Using cinematic sound design, combined with archival and newfound footage, Firebug invites listeners to join Antholis as he journeys to figure out where fiction meets reality. 

“I have lived with this story for three decades, and I am immensely grateful to the teams at Truth Media and Sony Music Entertainment for making it possible for me to tell it in such an impactful way,” Antholis said.

Firebug is executive produced and edited by Emmy Award winning and Academy Award nominated storyteller, filmmaker, podcaster and pioneer Marc Smerling at Truth Media.

To listen to the first two episodes, please click the here.   Listeners can subscribe to Firebug on all major podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher. Subscribe to Firebug: Uninterrupted on Apple Podcasts for ad-free listening. For more information on Firebug and all other Sony Podcast shows, follow @SonyPodcasts.

Firebug, New Podcast from Marc Smerling’s Truth Media, Unravels Story of Serial Arsonist Burning Down Southern California


Kary Antholis founded Crime Story Media, LLC in July 2019, after retiring as President of Miniseries and Cinemax Programming at HBO. Through Crime Story, Antholis produces the hit podcast series Jury Duty: The Trial of Robert Durst, and has television series in production with HBO and Apple TV+.

In over 25 years as a creative executive at HBO, Kary oversaw Academy Award, Emmy and Golden Globe-winning projects, including Chernobyl, Angels in America, Olive Kitteridge, John Adams, The Pacific, The Night Of, Generation Kill, The Corner, Elizabeth I, The Gathering Storm, Wit, Show Me a Hero and Educating Peter. As head of Cinemax Programming since 2011, Kary led the channel’s branding strategy, commissioning breakthrough series including Strike Back, Banshee, The Knick, Warrior, Jett and Tales from the Tour Bus.

Kary began his film career as a documentarian, winning the Academy Award for Documentary Short Subject and the Emmy for Outstanding Informational Special for his film One Survivor Remembers, about Holocaust survivor, Gerda Weissmann Klein. One Survivor Remembers was the first HBO program added by the Librarian of Congress to the National Film Registry, an honor given to “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant American films.


Truth Media is a podcast and television production company founded by Marc Smerling, the Emmy Award winning and Academy Award nominated producer, writer, director and cinematographer who has been a pioneer in telling true crime stories,  With a focus to develop projects that continue to expand how people think of true crime, Smerling opened Truth Media in 2018 out of an old factory building in Brooklyn now converted into a full-service production and post-production facility. In an exclusive partnership with Sony Music Entertainment, his team will create investigative podcasts, including the upcoming Morally (In)Defensible, a companion to Smerling’s nonfiction television series, A Wilderness Of Error, with Errol Morris, and produced in partnership with Blumhouse Television for FX Networks.

Smerling’s credits include producing the landmark documentary film Capturing the Friedmans (2003), which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature and won 18 major international prizes including the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Festival and the New York Film Critics Circle Best Non-Fiction Film award.  He produced and shot The Jinx – The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, a six-part series about Robert Durst, which aired on HBO in 2015, that received six Primetime Emmys nominations including Best Cinematography for Smerling and won for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series. The Jinx also won a Peabody Award and led to the arrest of Mr. Durst for the murder of his best friend in California. Smerling also co-wrote and produced the narrative feature All Good Things (2010) starring Ryan Gosling, Kirsten Dunst and Frank Langella, and produced the acclaimed documentary Catfish (2010) released by Universal Pictures. He is also executive producer of Catfish: The TV Series

In addition, Smerling laid the path for the explosion and popularity of true crime podcasts when he created and hosted Crimetown with Zac Stuart-Pontier and Gimlet Media in 2016. The second season of Crimetown (2019) featured Detroit’s controversial mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, who was recently pardoned by President Trump after serving a 28-year sentence. Crimetown has almost 100 million downloads worldwide. Smerling also produced The Ballad of Billy Balls, ranked No. 2 on The Atlantic Monthly’s Top 100 podcasts of 2019, and The RFK Tapes. Both Crimetown: Providence and The Ballad of Billy Balls are being developed for scripted television series at major studios.

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