|Music by||Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||3|
|Running time||53–63 minutes|
|Original release||August 13 –|
August 27, 2023
Telemarketers is an American true crime documentary series directed and produced by Adam Bhala Lough and Sam Lipman-Stern. It follows two office workers who stumble upon the truth of their work at a telemarketing center and are determined to expose the industry. The three-part series aired on HBO from August 13 to August 27, 2023.
Two office workers at a telemarketing call center in New Jersey, discover the truth behind the work they've been doing. Under the impression they're raising money for firefighter and police charities, the money is actually going towards their employers. When the company is shut down, they seek to expose the telemarketing industry.
|No.||Title||Directed by||Original air date|
|1||"Part 1"||Adam Bhala Lough|
|August 13, 2023|
|2||"Part 2"||Adam Bhala Lough|
|August 20, 2023|
|3||"Part 3"||Adam Bhala Lough|
|August 27, 2023|
In 2001, Sam Lipman-Stern began working as a telemarketer for Civic Development Group, later ordered to pay "$18.8 million, the largest penalty ever handed down in a consumer protection case" by the Federal Trade Commission, which focused on raising money for police organizations. Lipman-Stern began recording his time at the office, due to instances of employees doing drugs, and getting tattoos, which was allowed as long as employees made their quota, posting the videos on YouTube. Lipman-Stern was informed by his co-worker Pat Pespas that Civic Development Group was keeping the donations, and he consequently wanted to expose the company on film. The two began making a documentary project, investigating the company, interviewing charity experts and victims of scams, hiring a crew off Craigslist, but just as they were getting furthest in the investigation, Pat disappeared.
Lipman-Stern approached his cousin-through-marriage Adam Bhala Lough about turning the footage into a documentary. Bhala Lough felt a project could be made with the material, and he and Lipman-Stern began developing the project as a feature-length film at Danny McBride and David Gordon Green's Rough House Pictures, where he worked in the documentary division. Bhala Lough sent footage to Benny Safdie and Josh Safdie, who he had hoped would direct the project, but they were unable to commit due to their obligations to the film Uncut Gems. Lipman-Stern and Bhala Lough then developed the project into a docuseries, with the Safdies boarding as executive producers via their Elara Pictures banner. In 2020, Lipman-Stern and Pespas resumed their investigation, reaching out to Scott Pasch and David Keezer, the owners of Civic Development Group, who declined to participate.
On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 95% of 20 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 8.10/10. The website's consensus reads: "Hold the phone! A truly stranger than fiction scandal is recounted with addictive aplomb in this gritty and farcical docuseries." On Metacritic, the series has a weighted average score of 81 out of 100, based on 12 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
One vacancy is a 10,000-square-foot street-level space once occupied by the Civic Development Group. The phone call center left Muskegon, leaving Fricano looking for another call center or turning the space into a banquet center.