The disgraced organizer of the Fyre Festival may have been paid as much $250,000 to be interviewed for Hulu's new documentary about the fiasco
- Two highly anticipated TV shows documenting the wild Fyre Festival saga begin streaming this week. Hulu's version debuted on Monday, while Netflix's will follow on Friday.
- Billy McFarland, the festival organizer who was sentenced to six years in prison in October and ordered to forfeit $26 million, is interviewed in Hulu's version. Hulu confirmed to The Ringer that McFarland was paid for doing the interview.
- According to the director of Netflix's documentary, McFarland asked for $125,000 for an interview.
This week, Hulu and Netflix go head to head with their competing Fyre Festival documentaries, which tell the story of the infamous party in the Bahamas that left thousands of people stranded with half-built huts to sleep in and cold sandwiches to eat.
There is at least one distinct difference between Hulu's version, "Fyre Fraud," which was released on Monday, and the one Netflix is rolling out just a few days later. Hulu's documentary includes a paid interview with the festival's disgraced organizer, Billy McFarland, who is currently serving a six-year prison sentence.
According to a recent report by The Ringer, this interview could have cost as much as $250,000.
Chris Smith, director of Netflix's Fyre Festival documentary, told The Ringer that the company declined an interview with McFarland because he was requesting hundreds of thousands of dollars for it.
Smith said McFarland had told him that he was being offered $250,000 for an interview with Hulu and asked them to pay him $125,000.
"After spending time with so many people who had such a negative impact on their lives from their experience on Fyre, it felt particularly wrong to us for him to be benefiting," Smith said to The Ringer. "It was a difficult decision but we had to walk away for that reason."
According to Smith, McFarland then came back and asked whether Netflix would do it for $100,000 in cash. Netflix declined.
Jenner Furst, who co-directed Hulu's "Fyre Fraud," confirmed to The Ringer that McFarland was paid for his eight-hour interview and behind-the-scenes footage but denied that it was $250,000.
"I can't tell you the amount," he said, "but what I can tell you is that if you printed [$250,000], that would be a lie. That was not the amount. It was less than that. I don't know why Chris [Smith] is quoting him that way. We both made a film about the same person. We know the person is a compulsive liar."
Neither Netflix nor Hulu immediately responded to Business Insider's request for comment.
After being arrested on charges related to Fyre Festival, McFarland became involved in other fraudulent schemes. In June 2018, he was charged with selling fake tickets through a different company, called NYC VIP Access, starting in late 2017. He pleaded guilty to those charges.
Before McFarland's sentencing in October, his attorney, Randall Jackson, argued that McFarland had a bipolar-related disorder and asked the judge to give him a lighter sentence.