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Telemarketers (2023)

The Story

Sam and Patrick, two former employees of a New Jersey call center, are going to illuminate all of the actors in the scheme (including dirty US Senators) in this three-part HBO docuseries. In between parties and roughhousing in the office, employees of Civic Development Group cold called people on behalf of charity groups. As then-telemarketer Patrick describes it, their job was to “chisel ’em outta money.” The guys began filming while at CDG, and they kept at it after being outed from CDG. Their mission: take down the industry from the inside since the media and state government can’t.

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The Deets

Rating: n/a
Concerns: language, drugs, mild violence 
Runtime: 
Genre: Documentary, Drama
Original Language:
Release Date (streaming): 
Part 1: August 13, 2023 (max, HBO)
Part 2: August 20, 2023
 (max, HBO)
Part 3: August 27, 2023
 (max, HBO)

Main Cast

Patrick J. Pespas
Sam Lipman-Stern

Production & Crew

Distributor: 
Production Co: Elara Pictures, ALL FACTS, Rough House Pictures
Director(s): Adam Bhala Lough, Sam Lipman-Stern
Producer(s): Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie, Dani Bernfeld, David Gordon Green, Jody Hill, Danny McBride, Greg Stewart, Brandon James, Adam Bhala Lough, Sam Lipman-Stern; Claire Read
Editor: Christopher Passig

What the Critics have said

Produced by the Safdie brothers and out August 13, Telemarketers is part Jackass-style debauchery, part Michael Moore–style exposé, and a fantastically fluorescent piece of Bush-era kitsch.

“Telemarketers” crafts a pivotal examination of a profession most people actively try to ignore. That it does so this thoroughly, and with high entertainment value, only goes to show that while hanging up is good advice, it isn’t the ultimate solution.

At times Pespas in particular seems more like Don Quixote than investigative journalist, but he and Lipman-Stern are to be applauded for their continuing efforts to warn us about telemarketing scams, which continue to take place too frequently in this age of Spam Risk calls and AI scams.

… level of compassion and humanizing is what puts Telemarketers ahead of anything in Michael Moore’s recent output, and if the documentary inspires John Oliver and company to boil its thesis into a more clear-headed and cogent argument, that’s a valuable next step.

‘Telemarketers’ Review: HBO Exposé Is an Unsettling Good Time
In The Hollywood Reporter By Daniel Fienberg On 8/11/2023

“Telemarketers” may be summer TV’s oddest thrill ride.

Telemarketers is a fascinating portrait of a predatory industry, but it’s even better as a devoted character study, a warm-blooded testament to friendship, and an antidote to cynical acquiescence. 

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