Wolf Entertainment, which is behind some of the biggest hits on television, has now launched Dark Woods as a scripted project shedding light on an important issue and real-life threat. The podcast is centered on some mysterious events in the California redwood forest following the death of a young woman, leading to some big reveals about illegal activities. It also stars some Wolf Entertainment veterans with Chicago Fire’s Monica Raymund as well as Law & Order: LA’s Corey Stoll, plus Veep’s Reid Scott. Dark Woods executive producer Elliot Wolf spoke with CinemaBlend about bringing in Raymund, the real-life issue that’s getting the Wolf Entertainment treatment, and more of what’s on the way with Dark Woods.
Two episodes of Dark Woods have released so far to set up the story of Monica Raymund’s Laura and Corey Stoll’s Mark following the death of a young woman in the California redwood forest, which kicks off a mystery that could change the lives (and livelihoods) of a lot of small town locals due to drug cartels operating within the national park. Elliot Wolf shared that the issue that inspired the development of Dark Woods as a “character drama that's set on the backdrop of some real world issues" resulted in some creative strategies for production, including with the cast:
Dark Woods was in development prior to production complications due to COVID-19, but Elliot Wolf and the rest of the team behind Dark Woods made it happen despite not being able to record the cast in person. Remote recording wasn't necessary with Wolf Entertainment's first scripted podcast, Hunted, that starred Parker Posey. Monica Raymund managed to pull double duty by recording her role as Dark Woods’ Laura while also working on Starz’s Hightown, with her co-stars spread across the country. According to Elliot Wolf, there were some big reasons why Raymund and Corey Stoll were top picks for the lead roles:
Anybody who has already checked out Dark Woods can probably agree that Monica Raymund and Corey Stoll were great choices as the first calls to play Laura and Mark, not to mention Veep's Reid Scott. But how can even a company like Wolf Entertainment set up a recording studio for an actress while she’s off filming a whole other show in a whole other place, like Raymund with Hightown? Elliot Wolf detailed how the podcast pulled it off:
Who says you can’t star in a live-action series while also recording a scripted podcast series, when you can have a studio in your own closet? Dark Woods got creative to make it happen, and has a solid cast to tell a story about some important issues. Any fans of Wolf Entertainment TV shows are likely familiar with stories that are based on crimes that actually happened, but cartels operating out of parks is a real-world issue that hasn’t gotten much mainstream attention to this point. Elliot Wolf explained the inspiration behind crafting a scripted storyline based on this issue:
Wolf Entertainment may have two Law & Order shows and Chicago P.D. as crime dramas on NBC, and three crime FBI shows on CBS, but nothing quite like what Dark Woods is delivering as a serialized podcast with the crime happening in a national park adjacent to a small town. The situation is also sticky, with some characters more willing to prioritize the park than others, and Laura in particular stuck between her constituents as a councilwoman and protecting the redwoods.
The reality of cartels operating marijuana grows out of unexpected places isn’t the most well-known issue, and when I mentioned that the issue hasn’t received too much mainstream attention to this point, Elliot Wolf explained:
It’s not just a matter of people illegally growing marijuana, but how they can go about it, in certain cases. Dark Woods’ story seems to be the worst case scenario of what can potentially go wrong with an illegal grow, and the podcast plot is definitely still thickening. A young woman has died, the wildlife is being affected, and the forest is evidently a pretty dangerous place for the characters.
It’s also telling a story that has been documented by this point in 2021, but was all but unheard of not that long ago. The story is set back in 2004, and Elliot Wolf explained the idea in setting Dark Woods nearly twenty years in the past:
While secret marijuana grow sites and pesticides getting into the watershed may not be too widely known, the California redwood trees are familiar to plenty of people, whether they’ve gotten to visit in real life or simply seen images or videos. When I noted that using such an iconic setting could bring up some strong visuals for podcast listeners, Elliot Wolf revealed that was actually part of the plan:
Two episodes of Dark Woods are already available, in case you haven’t checked the podcast series out just yet. You can subscribe on Apple (opens in new tab), Spotify, and other podcast platforms now, with new installments releasing weekly. For more from Wolf Entertainment, you can find the three FBI shows on Tuesdays on CBS, the three One Chicago shows (including Monica Raymund’s former TV home) on Wednesdays on NBC, and both Law & Order: SVU and Law & Order: Organized Crime on NBC Thursdays in the fall TV lineup.
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Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.
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