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Alum’s Truly Adventurous Company Making Waves with Film and TV Deals

By David Ertischek ’01

A man with a baby on his shoulders
Greg Nichols ’11

Years from now, when a writer tells the true tale of Greg Nichols ‘11 and Matthew Pearl forming Truly Adventurous, it could be set on Macondo, Nichols’ boat.

Macondo is a fictional town described in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude.

“Macondo is a phrase that represents the wild and silly that couldn’t be true, but it is true,” said Nichols, who lives on the boat with his family.

In a lot of ways, that sums up Truly Adventurous, a digital magazine and media company formed by the duo in early 2019. The company tells true nonfiction stories that are published through partnerships with and

“The impetus for creating Truly Adventurous was our shared frustration in trying to find great homes for terrific true stories that Greg and I had discovered, and we were running into the reoccurring problem that magazines and newspapers aren’t really set up to support narrative storytelling,” said Pearl.

And without Emerson College the two would never had met. Pearl was a guest speaker for Charles Wesley Emerson Professor Megan Marshall’s graduate-level archival research class in 2009. (Nichols says Marshall was essential in the changing of his focus from fiction to nonfiction.) Pearl was speaking about one of his recent novels.

Nichols went on to become a journalist writing for magazines and nonfiction books. While working on a project about an African-American FBI agent hired by former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, Marshall suggested contacting Pearl, who had contacts with the FBI.  

They realized that there were deficiencies in how longform nonfiction narrative stories are adapted in Hollywood. Having the story already written out really helps with pitches, because producers can read a complete story, with a beginning, middle, and end.

Nichols said the site’s longform narrative stories, written by themselves and other writers, are may feature adventures that happened three years ago, or 300 years ago.

Editorially, there is no agenda. They’re not tied to a specific region, topic, or a need to attract advertisers. Newspaper editors are often focused on breaking news or hot topics. Nichols and Pearl’s only mandate is to tell a good story.

Pillars of Fire tells the story of the first female police officer in Los Angeles. Amazon Studios acquired the story, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel star Rachel Brosnahan is attached to it.

Through their Hollywood connections, more than 15 of those stories have been optioned to entertainment giants, including Amazon Studios, Paramount Pictures, and ABC Productions. The journalists also share in the proceeds, which is a very important thing for Nichols and Pearl — both veterans of the magazine industry.

Truly Adventurous are partners on all projects, and their involvement varies. They sit in on pitch meetings and find screenwriters, and their storytelling and investigatory chops really help in the development process.

“We believe in the story,” said Nichols. “The result has been tremendous in terms of readership.”

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