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Paramount+ today announced that Emmy-nominated and Tony Award-winning actress Annaleigh Ashford (Welcome to ChippendalesImpeachment: American Crime Story) will star in the new original drama series HAPPY FACE. Michael Showalter (The DropoutThe Eyes of Tammy Faye) has been tapped to direct the first episode. The eight-episode first season will begin production this year and premiere exclusively on Paramount+ in 2025. HAPPY FACE is executive produced by Jennifer Cacicio – who also serves as showrunner – and Robert and Michelle King, Liz Glotzer, Melissa Moore, Conal Byrne, Will Pearson, Michael Showalter and Jordana Mollick.

Ashford will play the lead role of Melissa in the series, which is inspired by the true-life story of Melissa Moore; the critically acclaimed Happy Face podcast from iHeartPodcasts and Moore; and the autobiography Shattered Silence, written by Moore with M. Bridget Cook. At 15, Moore discovered that her beloved father was the prolific serial killer known as “Happy Face.” As an adult, she has changed her name and guarded her secret while her father has been serving life in prison.

Jumping off from Moore’s true-life story, in HAPPY FACE for Paramount+, Melissa’s father contacts her to take credit for another victim, pulling her into an extraordinary investigation of her father and his crimes. As she discovers the impact her father had on his victims’ families, she must face a reckoning of her own identity.

Ashford recently wrapped production on Searchlight Pictures’ upcoming horror-thriller film Dust, which stars Sarah Paulson. She is currently nominated for an Emmy for her performance opposite Kumail Nanjiani in the Hulu limited series Welcome to Chippendales. Ashford also memorably portrayed Paula Jones in Ryan Murphy’s limited series Impeachment: American Crime Story and starred in two seasons of the Chuck Lorre CBS comedy B Positive. She previously worked with The Kings on their other two Paramount+ original series: the recently wrapped and critically acclaimed THE GOOD FIGHT and current hit EVIL.

An acclaimed stage actress and Broadway favorite, Ashford won Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards for her unforgettable portrayal of Essie Carmichael in the acclaimed Broadway revival of You Can’t Take It with You. She currently stars as Mrs. Lovett opposite Josh Groban in the Tony-nominated revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, for which she received a Tony nomination for Best Actress in a Musical, and a Grammy Award nomination for the Broadway cast recording. Among her previous Broadway credits, she starred opposite Jake Gyllenhaal in the critically acclaimed revival of Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George and in the Tony-winning Best Musical Kinky Boots, for which she received her first Tony nomination in 2013.

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