Long-Awaited Elizabeth Holmes Documentary Set to Air on Hulu After Fraud Trial Begins

Elizabeth Holmes_Editorial_Krista Kennell

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As disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes awaits her day in court, a long-awaited documentary series focused on the Stanford dropout who became a billionaire before losing it all is set to air on streaming service Hulu.

Hulu first announced the serial documentary in 2019. At the time, Saturday Night Live star Kate McKinnon had been tapped to star in the series as Holmes, but has since been recast to star Amanda Seyfried, Dark Daily reported. The series will be titled “The Dropout,” which references Holmes’ departure from Stanford at the age of 19 to found Theranos. “The Dropout,” which took its name from an ABC News podcast about Holmes, is set to stream this fall. Holmes is scheduled to head to court on Aug. 31 for fraud charges related to her role as CEO of the now-defunct Theranos. No drop date has yet been announced for the documentary.

Holmes has become a fascinating subject for documentarians. In addition to the ABC podcast about the life of Holmes, which included a deep dive into Holmes’ childhood in Texas where she was described as “disconnected” and dogged in her determination, HBO also aired a documentary called “The Inventor: Out For Blood In Silicon Valley.”

In addition to documentaries, a feature film in the works had attached Jennifer Lawrence in the title role. That film had been titled “Bad Blood” and was based on the seminal book of the same name written by The Wall Street Journal’s Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist John Carreyrou, who first broke the story about Theranos and the problems with its diagnostics development equipment.

Holmes had been set to go to trial more than a year ago to face the fraud charges brought by the U.S. government, but the trial was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Holmes, along with former Theranos president Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, were charged with multiple counts of fraud in 2018. According to the government, from 2013 to 2015, Holmes and Balwani raised more than $700 million from investors in a manner that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission called “years-long fraud.”

During this time, they exaggerated or lied about the efficacy of the company’s proprietary technology and the state of its finances, according to the federal complaint. Additionally, Theranos also made false claims about its relationship with the Department of Defense as well as its regulatory status with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration during that time period. During fundraising efforts, Holmes and Balwani touted the technology’s efficacy and promise, but never produced any supporting evidence in peer-reviewed publications. Theranos largely relied on the personality of Holmes to push the false narrative about the technology. Based on the alleged fraudulent promises made to investors, the valuation of Theranos swelled to $9 billion. That made Holmes one of the youngest billionaires in the United States.

During pretrial arguments earlier this year, Holmes denied destroying evidence related to the company’s blood tests. The prosecution had alleged that Holmes and the Theranos team destroyed a database called the Laboratory Information System (LIS) in 2018. The LIS contained three years’ worth of accuracy and failure rates of Theranos tests. In its arguments, the prosecution said the database included evidence that Theranos’ technology did not work as promised and had a failure rate of 51.3%. At the time, the government said the tests “were so inaccurate, it was essentially a coin toss whether the patient was getting the right result. The data was devastating.”

Last year the judge overseeing the Holmes trial dismissed some added charges against the duo that expanded existing wire fraud charges. Additional fraud charges were dropped by the judge in February of 2020.

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