When former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos stepped out of a federal prison in Wisconsin last week after serving two weeks for lying to the FBI, he was greeted by his wife, Simona Mangiante Papadopoulos — and a documentary series crew.
It was perhaps inevitable: Now that he has completed his role in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation, George Papadopoulos is looking to Hollywood.
A docuseries about the couple is being produced by a Los Angeles-based company that hopes to capitalize on the personal drama surrounding the 31-year-old energy consultant and his Italian wife.
“The story to me is this young couple who falls in love and days later find themselves in the middle of this international scandal,” said executive producer Stephanie Frederic of FGW Productions.
Frederic said the series will examine Papadopoulos’s account of his interactions with the Trump campaign and the FBI, including his recent claims that he was set up by Western intelligence officials opposed to Donald Trump’s election as president.
But, she insisted, the series is not intended to be political.
“I have friends who are angry at me for doing this series,” Frederic said. “I’m not doing this for politics. A good story is a good story. I think they’re a good story.”
The company, whose past credits include A&E’s 2017 six-part docuseries, “Who Killed Tupac?” and the 2016 PBS documentary “Eyes on the Prize: Then and Now,” does not yet have a distributor for the still-unnamed project.
Frederic said that the series will not be a reality show, in which story lines are often scripted, but rather a docuseries following the two as they grapple with their post-Mueller life. The couple are not being paid to appear in the series but will receive payment for providing photos and other mementos, she said.
Papadopoulos told The Washington Post that he and his wife decided to participate because they wanted “a true image of ourselves to be presented for the first time since I was embroiled in the Russia investigation.”
He said the project will follow the couple’s day-to-day activities, reveal new details about the investigation and focus on his current ambition: running for Congress.
Simona Papadopoulos is planning on pursuing acting and modeling, he said.
The two met in the spring of 2017 through LinkedIn. Both had worked for a London-based think tank run by Maltese professor Joseph Mifsud.
That’s the professor who told George Papadopoulos in 2016 that the Russians had dirt on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of emails, according to court papers.
Papadopoulos’s account of that claim to Australian diplomats in a bar in London in May 2016 helped trigger an FBI counterintelligence investigation into Trump’s campaign.
The couple began a whirlwind romance and were dating by the time Papadopoulos was arrested in July 2017. They married this March, while Papadopoulos awaited sentencing after pleading guilty to lying to the FBI about key details involving his conversations with Mifsud and Russians he met through the professor.
Frederic said the series will address skepticism about their quick romance and questions about Simona Papadopoulos’s background.
At one point, she said, Papadopoulos describes a moment where he directly confronted his wife about whether she has been honest with him about her life story.
What happened next? Frederic declined to say.
The project, which is still in its early phases, is being financed by investors of FGW Productions, Frederic said. She declined to name them but noted that none are Russian.
Frederic, a former television anchor who has worked with BET and A&E’s “Biography,” said the crew has already captured moments of high drama — no surprise to anyone who follows the couple on Twitter and tracks their frequent clashes with his parents and online critics.
The cameras were rolling last month as Simona Papadopoulos accompanied her husband has he reported to a federal prison camp in Wisconsin. The young couple argued on the way, Frederic said, adding: “It’s the biggest fight I’ve ever seen on television.”
Simona Papadopoulos said producers told the couple the show is not intended to show them in a good or bad light. “We want people to judge us for who we are,” she said in an interview.
“It’s a human story that gives people better understanding of the pressure a federal investigation can cause to a newly married couple,” she added.
She said she and her husband are hoping for a fresh start now that he has completed his prison term. They’ve moved to Los Angeles, where she has been looking for acting gigs, and the couple have been hanging out with new friend Tom Arnold.
But she said the past year has been hard on both of them. George has never met her family in Italy. “I feel like he knows half of me and not the whole of me,” she said.
Camera crews are set to follow the two until at least February. Frederic said they will travel to Italy to learn more about Simona Papadopoulos’s background. And they’ve done interviews with George Papadopoulos’s sister as well as both of his parents, Antonis and Kate, with whom he has strained relations.
“There are definitely some issues there, and you will see them,” Frederic said.
Greg Mielcarz, another executive producer, said the series will present a realistic picture of the couple. “Perfectly lovely people don’t always make the best decisions,” he said.