The first time Consequence speaks with Jason Woliner about Paul T. Goldman, he’s not entirely sure how his Peacock show will end — because the Nathan for You and Borat Subsequent Moviefilm director hasn’t finished filming it yet. It’s two days before the show’s official red carpet premiere in December 2022, and those attending have been informed that cameras will be present at the theater, to capture… well, Woliner isn’t sure at the time what will happen, after the titular Paul T. Goldman finally sees the TV show Woliner’s been making about him.
As the hybrid scripted-unscripted comedy itself documents, Paul T. Goldman came about after Goldman, a middle-aged man totally outside the world of Hollywood, began sending messages to seemingly every director on Twitter, asking them to consider making the film adaptation of a book he’d written about his life.
“I got a few responses from some independent directors who said, ‘If you have a million dollars, I’ll direct your movie,’” Goldman said to the crowd during the post-premiere Q&A. However, Woliner was the only one who read the book and became fascinated with Goldman’s perspective on the world.
“I absolutely became obsessed with the book and felt like Paul was the most interesting thing about it,” he says to Consequence. “I mostly became fixated on him, and the idea that you could do, ultimately, a documentary project — because it is a profile of a real person.”
Woliner’s initial introduction to Goldman and their subsequent first encounters took place in 2012, and over the following decade, Woliner went down the rabbit hole with Goldman, investigating the story Goldman tells in his self-published Amazon book Duplicity: A True Story of Crime and Deceit while also filming scenes from the book (written by Goldman for the screen, featuring guest stars like Frank Grillo, Rosanna Arquette, W. Earl Brown, Melinda McGraw, and Dennis Haysbert). Woliner even shot a pilot in 2017 for Hulu that didn’t get picked up, but did give him something to show potential partners after taking an extended break to focus on Borat.
For, when the Borat sequel became an international hit in 2020, it created a “blank check” moment for the director, and “the first thing I wanted to do, after I finished that, was finish this project. And because [Borat] was an ambitious project on paper that could have gone very badly, could have not worked, I think that helped people take the leap of faith at Peacock… that maybe this wouldn’t be a complete disaster,” he laughs.