Chris Messina been tapped as the lead in HBO Max pilot Verbatim, an anthology series from Left/Right, Brett Weiner (Honest Trailers) and Ben Stiller’s Red Hour Films, and The New York Times.

Messina’s previous roles include The Sinner with Matt Bomer and Bill Pullman, and Sharp Objects opposite Amy Adams, who he starred with in the 2009 movie Julie & Julia. His forthcoming projects include movie I Care A Lot with Rosamund Pike and Peter Dinklage, and The Secrets We Keep, with Noomi Rapace and Joel Kinnaman.

Verbatim is created and directed by Brett Weiner, based on his successful New York Times digital series, and production will begin this Fall in Los Angeles.

The series tackles actual events, with all dialogue taken from primary sources and presented verbatim. The pilot episode will follow the story of the 2019 college admissions scandal.

Verbatim began as a short film that screened around the country including at the 2014 Sundance, SXSW and Telluride film festivals and won the Audience Award at the Dallas International Film Festival. The New York Times expanded the film into a digital series that has garnered millions of views and made the official selection of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival Shorts Program with Verbatim: The Ferguson Case in 2016.

Weiner started writing and directing by making viral videos on the internet, including co-creating the Honest Trailers series, which has over 3 billion views. Weiner previously worked as a producer/director for ABC Digital, directing the original sketch comedy show Paper Dolls, as well as Declassified, the digital companion to ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 

Left/Right’s Ken Druckerman and Banks Tarver will executive produce Verbatim, along with Red Hour’s Nicholas Weinstock, Jackie Cohn and Ben Stiller, and Kathleen Lingo for The New York Times. Scott Lochmus and Michelene Starnadori will produce.

Left/Right also produce new ten-part documentary series The New York Times Presents with the New York Times, for FX and Hulu, groundbreaking political docuseries The Circus, which recently returned to Showtime for new episodes, and new docuseries (Un)Well for Netflix.