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With Big Stars and Plans, Luminary Aims to Be the Netflix of Podcasts

Category: Art & Culture,Arts

Other podcast platforms include Stitcher, Pocket Casts, Overcast and Castbox. Among start-ups, Himalaya Media, a San Francisco start-up backed by the Chinese audio giant Ximalaya FM, announced last month that it had raised $100 million and would introduce a podcast-distribution app with exclusive shows and a feature that would allow listeners to leave gratuities. Its stated goal? “To climb to the peak of the global podcast space.”

Mr. Sacks brushed off the competition.

“Just like in the premium television space, there is more than enough room for multiple offerings to thrive,” he said.

“What sets Luminary apart,” he continued, “is our exclusive content right off the bat. Nobody comes close.”

In addition to new shows from people like Ms. Dunham, whose “C-Word” podcast will offer a weekly look at women who have been deemed “crazy” online, Luminary will serve as the new exclusive home for a half-dozen established podcasts. Those include “Under the Skin,” hosted by the British comedian Russell Brand; a popular sex-focused show with an unprintable name created by Corinne Fisher and Krystyna Hutchinson; and Nick van der Kolk’s eclectic interview program “Love and Radio.”

Still, the project that probably best demonstrates where Luminary would like to go is Mr. Mitchell’s new musical.

“Hedwig,” the story of an East German transgender rocker, made its debut Off Broadway in 1998 and became a cultural phenomenon. Mr. Mitchell’s new show, “Anthem: Homunculus,” written with Bryan Weller, is not a sequel, although it contains material that was originally intended for one. The musical is set in a small town and finds Mr. Mitchell’s character battling a brain tumor and running out of insurance. He stages an audio-telethon to raise money for his treatment.

In addition to Ms. LuPone, the cast includes six Tony Award winners, including Glenn Close, who wails a punk song while ostensibly nailed to a cross. Produced by Topic Studios, the company behind the hit podcast “Missing Richard Simmons,” the musical includes 31 original songs and will unspool over 10 episodes, stretching roughly six hours in total.


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