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A listener note, this episode contains a description of suicide and may not be suitable for everyone. Please be advised.


Good morning, Mr. Ray. Morning. James Arthur Ray sat at a long table in a cold conference room. It was November 2013 and he had been out of prison for just four months.


Is there any reason you can't testify truthfully today? No.


Next to him or his lawyers. And across from them was a court reporter, a videographer and the two lawyers asking the questions. One of them was Daniel Me.


And I remember when I met him thinking he seemed nervous.


Daniel Me was a reserved, careful attorney in his early 30s. He worked for a small litigation firm in New Jersey called Stone and Magnani Magnani, as in Bob Magnini, Kirby Brown's cousin.


Bob and I remember we both were suits and ties and we came looking like we were there for business. And I remember James Ray. I remember meeting him before the deposition got started, shaking his hand, introducing myself. I remember he said he had really long hair, which was kind of surprising. He kind of looked like a like a California surfer or something.


Bob did most of the talking. He asked about James's background.


When were you born? 22nd of 57. And where were you born? Honolulu, Hawaii.


Then he started asking about James's career. He wanted to establish the particulars of his rise. How in just a few years, he'd become one of the most prominent self-help coaches in the country.


If you can get to help people think feel involved. Then you realize why they do what they do or why they don't. And so what I would do was go in and talk to people and uncover their core liberal values.


Bob asked about how James did what he did and also why.


Looking through all the material here, the seminars were trying to get people to change. Right. Was your intent? I wasn't trying to get people to do anything. My purpose was to share my life experience. And you can take it or leave it if it works for you. It does. It doesn't. It doesn't.


All told, the deposition would last nearly 16 hours over two days. A seminar at the end of day one. James took off his jacket. His forehead glistened with sweat. It wasn't unusual for people to be uneasy during depositions, but James's nervousness stood out.


To Daniel me, I remember thinking to myself that for a guy who is putting himself out there as being, you know, the next Dalai Lama, whatever he was saying, he was, that just to be a little surprised that that would be his demeanor.


Of course, James had a reason to be nervous.


Was there any discussion about having any sort of medical personnel on hand for any of the seminars? Yeah, I don't know why we would have a discussion. We. Why would you have medical personnel? Well, did you ever have anybody injured or hurt at one of the seminars? Very rare before the big one.


The big one was Spiritual Warrior in Sedona. The event that Kirby Brown, James Shore and Liz Newman had died at.


Bob Magnini had been at James's Arizona trial with Jeannie. Before that, he'd negotiated a civil settlement for Kirby's family. But still, Bob had been disappointed in the verdict. At the criminal trial, I had a different view of what should happen to Mr. Ray. The court sentenced him to two years, which I thought was kind of woefully insufficient for killing three people. While James was in prison, Bob had been strategizing another way to investigate James and he'd thought he'd found one.


This deposition wasn't to ask James about what had happened to his cousin Kirby or the others in Sedona. He was there for a new client because he believed the deaths in Sedona were not an isolated incident. Bad things had happened before. We are pleased to have simply safe as our presenting sponsor a home security system that's so complicated you never use it, doesn't do anybody any good. Simply safe knows this. And it's why they've spent a decade working to bring something better to your home and mine.


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He's jovial and talkative, but his jokes and jibes often carry a kind of no nonsense seriousness consistent with someone who's also a lieutenant colonel in the New York Army National Guard. Prior to being a lawyer, I spent 30 years in the Army as a usually as a counterterrorist guy, hunting and killing people who would harm American Americans. So I'm more self-reliant. So I didn't know really much about the self-help industry. All of that changed on October 9th, 2009.


I was in the middle of a very contentious litigation, so I had just gotten off a call with a lot of yelling and screaming. And my mother called to say Kearby had died and I left my house, started driving to work, and then I stopped and pulled over. And I remember I called my mother back and I said, What did you say she died of? And she said it was a sweat lodge. But then we looked up what a sweat lodge was.


And I said, well, it seems like a bizarre way to die. Bob and Kirby had always been close.


Kirby was like kind of like my little sister growing up.


Once he got home, Bob immediately started making phone calls. He first talked to Detective Ross Diskin.


And I said, well, you know who was in charge of it? He said, a fellow named James Arthur Ray.


Bob started researching who James Ray was and where he came from. He traced James's history back to Tulsa, Oklahoma, deep in the Bible Belt where James spent his formative years. James, his dad, had been a minister.


He had some issues with his father, who was, you know, kind of an old time Fineman's brimstone preacher type guy, and that he didn't really make as much money as he should been a Roys kind of poor and had to move around.


And the father, you know, should have used his talents for bigger and better things, and he didn't.


So while James got some of his father's talent for moving people through speech, he vowed to do better in business. In the mid 90s, James went out on his own. By 2000, he founded J. R I. James Ray International, a business entity built around himself and his teachings. Bob interviewed people who'd attended his events. Some of those people sent us their workbooks, their documents. We had a whole bunch of the c.D and the DVD that he sold online that people had seen.


We had a pretty thorough understanding of what his main product was, which was himself. When they finally sat down face to face for a formal deposition, Bob wanted to talk about that.


Why did you form Jay Ryan when you had J. James Ray, Associate and Associates? Part of it is due to my beliefs of how things work. I wanted to become an international business. So you put that writing. Can you believe it is how your goals when you formed JRA to make a positive impact or what?


At first, James's main clients were business leaders. He also developed a strong relationship with salespeople who distributed products for the multilevel marketing company Herbalife.


Then he moved to Atlanta, where he started training executives in Stephen Covey programs. Covey is the author of the business classic The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey had turned his bestsellers into a lucrative business program designed for corporate training seminars. His work is filled with catchy, intriguing phrases like The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities. James was good at training people with coveys programs, and he started adapting.


Then I began through my own research and my own studies and my own experience to kind of, you know, take some of that information as well as add to it and more food and develop it into some of my own metrics, if you will.


This was smart branding and smart business. Every time he taught coveys programs, James would have to pay a licensing fee. But by developing his own program, he could keep all the proceeds for himself.


He had just kind of spliced together pieces of people's ceremonies, whether they were religious or business driven, self-help or what, and come up with his with the package he was selling.


At first, it seemed to work well.


He found an audience through his Herbalife connections, and he also expanded it to other corporate clients. He started writing books and speaking about business, wealth and leadership, as well as philosophy, spirituality and harmony. What he was hoping to do was once you got in the door, you were then hooked and you were in for longer, longer, longer, and people did get hooked. Word spread and more people became interested in his programs. His seminars moved from conference rooms to ballrooms.


But even with a growing following, he wasn't making enough money to sustain himself.


Did you have trouble paying the employees? No. I always made payroll, but a lot of times on credit cards, my personal credit cards. I didn't take a salary for ten years.


Then he got a call from an Australian filmmaker named Rhonda Byrne to participate in a film. She was thinking about making, which would become the secret.


Every great tradition has told you that you were created in the image and the likeness of the creative source. That means that you have got potential and power to create your world.


When the secret came out in 2006, it was a smash success.


Did you get any compensation specifically tied to having appeared in the secret?


No, that was a labor of love, OK. The Oprah appearance followed Larry King, The Today Show. The secret is a huge success. James Arthur Ray, author of The Science of Success, supports the principles of the secret. There was even a rumor he might get his own show on Oprah's television network that he might be the next Dr. Phil. Now, James, who is in the big leagues. Fortune magazine called James the next big thing in the highly competitive world of motivational gurus.


James went from living in modest homes to seemingly collecting them. He purchased properties in Hawaii and Nevada. He paid four million dollars for a plush mansion off Mulholland Drive in Beverly Hills. And James wanted to keep getting bigger and bigger. He set his sights on one man in particular who stood head and shoulders above the rest of the self-help industry.


Take off your shoes and socks. Tony Robbins, an imposing, strong jod, six foot, seven inch motivational speaker and another Oprah favorite.


Now, here's a sight you don't see every day. Me and four thousand barefoot people streaming out of the L.A. Convention Center across the street to a parking lot where we're going to firewall. You heard me right. We're going to walk across two thousand degree particles.


James admired Tony Robbins a lot. Bob Magnani learned how much James studied Tony's work and business in detail.


And he constantly said that his own goal was to be the first, you know, billionaire self-help guy in the self-help industry and be bigger than Robinson.


And, you know, everybody else, he especially admired the physical challenges that Tony put his followers through. James wanted to go even further by putting his seminars participants through crazy feats of strength and endurance. They were painful. They were stressful. James would tell them. That's the point.


Are you playing full on or are you falling in the trap of indulging your ego? You know, many of you many of you stood up here today and said, I'm willing to give up my free time. Many of you said, I'm willing to give up those things that hold me back and limit me. Many of you said that I'm willing to do things even if it's uncomfortable. Many of you said it. Now, the question is, are you going to be impeccable with that?


In the deposition room, Bob asked him about a particular quote from one of his seminars. What do you mean by your comfort zone?


Either hold you back or you expand your opportunities. And so we either retreat or take a leap of faith and push beyond our comfort zone.


Basically, anytime you do anything new, whether it's learning to ride a bicycle or learning to write your name through discomfort, you know, you either retreat and say, I'm not going to do that anymore, or you you move forward and say, I'm going to do this. I'm uncomfortable, but I'm going to move forward anyway.


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This would take a look at Boyd Martha's exhibit twenty six, which again. And it's, as you can see there, called injury report form. And the first one concerns a woman named Nancy Conrad, who appears to have injured her hand at the board break exercise. Do you remember Nancy Conrad?


I do not. The board break was one of James's favorite physical challenges. A classic mind over matter test. One person would hold a square of flat wood while another person tried to punch through it. It actually says she bruised her hand. A large bruise on her palm. Did you continue the poor break exercise had harmonic wealth weekend after a bruise. Hand. Yes. Yes. OK.


What a lot of people had described to us. And, you know, when you look at his presentations and things with the loud music and balloons and cheerleaders and all this kind of stuff. I'm like, how hurt can you get in a, you know, a big conference room?


Bob handed James another file says During Arrow Break exercise, a broken portion of arrow flew up and punctured eyelid. What was the arrow break exercise? People would. We had them put target arrows on their throat and then step into it and break it.


In this exercise, James had participants stand face to face and hold a wooden arrow between them, balanced against their throats. Then he told them to walk toward each other until the arrow snapped into. Did you continue to do that after this incident?


Yes, Bob asked James about another incident. This one was reported after a trust walk exercise at an event in San Diego that entailed two people, one blindfolded.


The other one walking them and guiding them while they were blindfolded. You recall any discussion about Mr. Newmeyer falling and fracturing his finger and dislocating his finger at creating absolute wealth seminar? I do not because we had a bigger shock to come.


That shock was what Bob was here specifically to confront James about. The other injuries were to establish a pattern that James events. People got hurt. Everyone who attended was asked to sign a form that included this language. I am fully aware that I may suffer physical, emotional, psychological or other injury as a result of my voluntary participation in the activities. The incident Bob was most interested in took place in July of 2009, the summer before the Sedona tragedy.


It was called creating absolute wealth or C a W. Andy Grant was one of the attendees that weekend before we went on an excursion. Before we did any breakout group, you were reminded that you had to play full on. And how you play this game is how you play your entire life. He would not put a hand on you, but if he saw you walking by, he'd be like, hey, play full on, right? Is this how you play every other Daniel life?


Don't you want to change? I wanna make a difference. And would it be different? Want to be more playful on James Ray's entire philosophy in a phrase. You know, you go a thousand miles per hour. You do everything I ask. You'd never give up. You never question it. You just do it.


Which is why on July 25th, 2009, Andy Grant boarded a bus heading to downtown San Diego.


But I was dressed in, you know, ripped Capri pink pants that didn't fit and a stain's rotten's pink sweatshirt. You know, I look like a bad pink hulk or something. It was a it is kind of silly, but I was glad I had close. It covered me from the back seat. He could see one man wearing a dress. Another shirtless. There was a woman wearing a baggy men's shirt. Everyone had grease in their hair and dirt smudged on their faces.


Andy did, too. I've worked as background as an extra in a number of movies, so I just thought, all right, you know, I'm just going to set this.


I was trying to make fun of this and take away kind of the nerves and fear of whatever it was Andy and the others were doing another kind of James Ray exercise, not a Firewalker, a board breaking challenge or pushing arrows into their necks, but one that was also supposed to reframe their thinking. James called it the resourcefulness exercise. Andy called it simply the homeless exercise. Participants would go out into public with nothing, no money, no credit cards, no phone before they left the hotel.


Volunteers had brought out a pile of second hand clothes for attendees to put on. We had to leave our I.D. and wallets and keys and jewelry in our hotel rooms. If anyone asked you what you're up to. You say you're homeless. You don't say you're part of a group or part of an exercise unit. They go about, James, you're just here and you'll have the experience that you are meant to have. And he had doubts about the whole thing.


But I do what the teacher asks of me. And so that's what I did all weekend. I'm like, I'm here. I've invested it. So I'll do everything that I'm asked.


When Andy got off the bus, he walked around. He actually didn't feel that unusual, actually Comic-Con was happening there. So nobody was even noticing me like, you know, I was just kind of invisible. And maybe maybe that's because I looked homeless. But I know some other homeless guys with their backpacks and all of their stuff, and I kind of follow them for a little bit. But after about 90 minutes, I just took a spot in a park that was shady and sat down.


And I remember thinking that there's just nothing to get from this. This is kind of silly. When he sat down, Andy was across from an open air mall called Horden Plaza. It's a big place, five levels high, six and a half blocks, long and full of bright colors and bold architecture. The place was packed. There were people dressed in elaborate costumes and colorful masks because of Comic-Con happening nearby, then far off in the distance. Something caught Andy's eye.


A woman on a high balcony.


I could see that she was standing outside of the balcony because I could see her legs and I thought she was some sort of stunt show. I thought it was part of Comic-Con.


Andy was on the edge of his seat waiting for her to do something. And she just standing there. And I remember thinking, like, this is a really boring show, like, what's the point of this? And then she lifted her arms up and just fell forward. There was no applause. There was no music. There was nothing. And I thought, well, well, that went horribly wrong. What the heck happened there? And he ran over to get a closer look.


But all he could see was her on the ground with a small crowd gathered around her. Emergency crews soon arrived. They were working on her. So I thought she was alive and she was taken away.


Police officers started pushing people away, but Andy had nowhere to go. He had to wait for the bus. And there was at least another hour until the end of the homeless exercise. So he just kept wandering and he had struggled with suicidal thoughts for years. What he saw had struck a nerve.


I kept getting drawn to where this woman jumped from. I found myself walking to that spot and I just started crying.


Around the same time, Andy was wandering the mall trying to make sense of what he'd just seen. James was at the mall to the food court, eating a gyro salad and tweeting, eating lunch with my dream. While CAGW participants are having a life changing experience.


Did you see any of the participants from creating absolute wealth in the mall? I did. Did you speak with any of them? I did not. Did anyone from JRA report to you while you were having lunch that someone had jumped at the wall? Absolutely not.


By the time Andy finally boarded the bus, he was distraught and I was trembling and crying and they didn't ask for him to share anything.


There was no talking for the group on the bus and he didn't know if the woman who jumped was still alive, who was eating him up inside.


Once we got back to the hotel, we went to our rooms to change and then would meet again back in the ballroom. And at that point, I was first to stand up and and share what I had seen and I would add affected me in the deposition room. Bob Magnani asked if anyone had shared a reaction to what had happened at the mall.


I recall someone saying they had witnessed someone attempt to commit suicide. And then that he was he realized how grateful he was to be alive.


Later that night after dinner, James approached me in a hallway and said, I want to thank you for what you shared. That helped a lot of people. I was like, all right, thanks. And. But that was that was the extent of any talk I saw about the incident. The staff was preoccupied with another problem. One of the participants in the homeless exercise was missing. Colleen Conaway, a 46 year old devoted follower of James, recalls recall speaking with anybody back at the hotel about the person it was or I guess, you know, it was.


Colleen was missing from the bus. I knew someone was not there.


Could you identify who that person was? Possibly. But I did not. Colleen hadn't boarded the bus back to the hotel.


Did you make a connection between the missing participant and what you said is an attempted suicide?


No, I did my first international quarter after 8:00 p.m. Saturday night. And you don't have to call my cell phone. You're helping me. You are OK.


I'm sure Colleen Conaway was from Minnesota. The walls of her room were plastered with index cards of sayings from James's teachings. She'd paid four thousand dollars to attend this event, plus two thousand dollars for the plane ticket. She bought last minute, plus the hotel room. On top of that when James introduced the homeless exercise. Colleen was there.


She rode the bus to the mall with the other participants out of the car to reach.


I was there at dinner at the same time and my team was always punctual. And they weren't. And they weren't. And they weren't. And they weren't. And they didn't show up. And so I couldn't figure out what was going on. And finally, one of them came and told me they had found the missing participle and that the participant had attempted to commit suicide.


Did they say anything else? I went into shock. I don't know. James went into shock and got in touch with his lawyer and his head of public relations. It seems like I had been told from counsel, either through someone else or myself, which I don't recall, that we were to to finish the event, to not disclose any of the information, because that's not our place to do. From what I've been told, that's the police and the medical examiner's job to contact family members.


And so, you know, I mean, it would have been pandemonium had and the rest of the event would have been. A nightmare. Had I come out and said, you know. So we're committed suicide when the police took Colleen's body away. She was identified only as a Jane Doe because she'd been doing the homeless exercise. She wasn't carrying a wallet or I.D.. And since none of the JRA employees identified her at the mall, she remained a Jane Doe for another eight hours.


Meanwhile, the creating absolute wealth event continued. James didn't tell the participants what had happened. So it was unlikely that anyone who attended spiritual Aurier knew someone had died at one of his events. And that bothered Bob. Would Kirby have gone knowing somebody had killed themselves? I don't know. So it might have saved some of the people who died in Sedona or were injured in Sedona. Ed Ray, come forward. So we were trying to get them to see you looking back.


You covered up what happened in San Diego that led to Sedona. What happened next? You end up in jail. Your business is kaput. Is there anything you would have done differently? I'm Marissa Jones, host of the Vanished from One Diary Each Week on the Vanished. We take you beyond the headlines and explore a different missing persons case. Speaking with family, friends, law enforcement and experts this week, we're covering the disappearance of 11 year old Trudy Appleby from Moline, Illinois.


Back in August of 96, Trudy spent her summer days at home while her father was away at work. One day her father came home and couldn't find her anywhere. A neighbor reported seeing Trudy get into a car with a man. Trudy's case went unsolved for more than 20 years. But now investigators believe they know who was responsible for Trudy's murder. To hear Trudy's story and many more, subscribe to the vanished on Apple podcasts or Spotify to listen ad free, go to wonder E-Plus dot com slash vanished.


By now, you've been introduced to James Arthur Ray, whose methods pushed some to their limits, giving them the transformative experience they dreamed of and killing others. What was the fallout of the Spiritual Warrior retreat? What happened to the victims and to James Arthur Ray? To find out right now. Binge. All six episodes add free by starting your 30 day free trial of wondering plus in the new Wonder app. Download the app today. About six hours into the second day of the deposition, James started to look more uncomfortable.


He took off his blazer and placed it behind him on his chair.


It's kind of whole tone and demeanor during the deposition was like, you know, woe is me. Like, how could this have befallen me? Things were going so well, you know? And then the sweat lodge happens and then these people die. And then that because of that, these people in Minnesota find some lawyer and now they're on me about this. And I shouldn't even be here. Like, why are you bothering me with this? At this point, Bob Magnini handed him a piece of paper.


Have you seen this document before? I have. And when was that? I saw it online. The document was titled Seek Safely, Promise Seek Safely is a nonprofit that Ginny Brown and her husband had founded in response to Kirby's death. Bob had helped them out. And when did you see him?


After someone told me it was there and told me that some of your family members had waited outside the prison for me to try to get you to sign it.


My aunt and uncle had wanted something good to come out of Kirby's death, and so they had kept focusing on how much misinformation and how little regulation there is on the whole self-help industry. So they had started up seek with this idea saying let's make the people who are putting the programs on at least walk the walk if you're going to talk, talk kind of thing. So we had put this seat promise together to basically say to people, look, if you want to go to these events, that's great.


You know, if there's going to be physical exertion or things like that, there's some sort of a medical standby if there's gonna be psychological probing and maybe bringing up things you've buried or repressed or something like that, there's gonna be some assistance for you. You're not going to be wandering in and paying money and then being, like, thrown off the Grand Canyon.


James had been presented with the seek safely promise a few months earlier when he got out of prison, but he hadn't signed it. So during the deposition, Bob asked him about it.


Would you sign the seek safely? No, I will not. And why not? Because I.


Because I will not at this point. Bob asked to go off the record by bringing up Bob's family members. James seemed to be implying Bob had an ulterior motive. Sure, he was representing Colleen Conaway's family in a wrongful death suit. But he was really there because of Kirby Brown's death. They were off the record for 11 minutes. Then they started the tape again, if I may.


Before we continue, I just first of all, you took me really out of left field. I my personal thing is very unprofessional that you brought this your personal agenda into the Conaway's issue. And when I said I was, I wouldn't sign it. I think it bears for the record now for me to say why it really took me off guard with this thing, because this is not appropriate, in my opinion. What do you find offensive with what's in the document?


I'm not I'm just going to tell you the reason that I would not sign it, because I believe that this is an unrecognized uncredentialed entity with their own personal agenda. And it's been evidenced today by you, in my opinion. So for the record, I just wanted to make this statement.


Bob saw James, his face getting red. James thought that it was unprofessional for Bob to bring up seek safely. But Bob wasn't having any of it. His whole business model is like, trust me, I'm credible. And then, you know, he only lasted a quarter of a semester in Tulsa Community College. He continued probing James and objections from his lawyers started coming thick and fast.


I would like to call George Bush. You go some other, you know, group now. We'll continue, Mr. Right? No, I don't think so. Are you acting so instruct them not to answer. Well, I can do. All right. Well, then answer the question, Mr. Right. You answer the guys with this, right.


Bob kept going. He read out the six pillars of the six safely promise. We will clearly delineate what his personal opinion, belief or speculation as opposed to information that is supported by third party scientific research. Is there anything you find objectionable with that? No. And number three, respectful participants will be able to freely express opinions without fear of public humiliation, ridicule, shame or physical abuse. Is there anything you find objectionable to that? No, he wasn't, you know, objecting to anything.


He wasn't disagreeing with anything. Nothing was objectionable in each of these areas. And so the thought was here, can we get him? Would he sign this promise?


But James didn't sign. As for the court case over calling Conaway's death, that didn't settle until years later. And the details have never been disclosed. You know, you tell people you've done the right thing.


You fought the good fight. It didn't go, you know, slip into the dark mists of memory. You were nobody's remembered it. People might end before you decide to go and have somebody else tell you how to live your life better. You might check on it or not or hesitate and not end up in a position like the people I've represented have been.


As a lawyer, Bob can't say more about the settlement. But as a member of Kirby's family, Bob's feelings are clear.


You know, personally, my cousin's dead. I'm representing a family whose daughter he killed or helped kill.


And he wants to complain about having to be, you know, examined about the seat promise, because after James got out of prison, after he served his time, he was ready to rehabilitate his image and make a comeback. The guy is still walking around trying to make money with selling the same snake oil. I don't feel as safe. I wonder what's going to happen. I don't know what he's going to do.


That's on the next and final episode of Good. From one to three, this is Episode five of six of Guru. A story about the dangers and the dark side of enlightenment. The next episode will be out in a week. But if you want to listen right now, all six episodes are available on one Durrie Plus and on the Wonder Rehab if you or someone you know is struggling with mental health. Here are some additional resources. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, one 800 273 8255.


National Alliance on Mental Illness. One 800 nine five zero six two six four.


Crisis Text Line. Text h o m e to seven four one seven four one.


If you want to help us spread the word, please give us a five star rating and a review on Apple podcasts. And be sure to tell your friends, subscribe on Apple podcasts, Spotify, the Wonder App or wherever you're listening right now. Join Wonder E-Plus in the Wonder app to listen ad free for more detail on James Arthur Ray and the scandal that shocked the self-help industry. Check out the podcast Real Crime Profile. As professional criminal profilers and analysts, they break down the criminal behavior of James Arthur Ray to figure out what he was thinking and why he did what he did in these pivotal moments.


You can find real crime profile on Apple podcasts, Spotify or add free on the Wonder app. This episode was written and reported by me. Matt Stroud, associate producer, is a SEAL keeping story. Editor is Casey Miner, Sound Design by Jeff Schmidt. Fact checking by Sarah Maclure. Producer is Alex Blonsky, managing producer is Latha Pandya. And Executive producers are George Lavender, Marshall Lui and Hernan Lopez for Wunder.