Docs

HBO readies Bailey, Barbato’s “Every Brilliant Thing”

With much of the festive season’s programming centered on merrymaking, warmth and family love, HBO is turning to a darker side of the human experience. The American premium cable and satellite ...
December 6, 2016

With much of the festive season’s programming centered on merrymaking, warmth and family love, HBO is turning to a darker side of the human experience.

The American premium cable and satellite television network is premiering Every Brilliant Thing (pictured), a film adaptation of a one-character Broadway show about a boy’s struggle with his mother’s depression.

The choice of a performance-based film is not part of a new strategy for HBO, which has aired other theatre-sourced film productions, including Elaine Stritch At Liberty and The Vagina Monologues.

Directed and produced by World of Wonder founders and Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures filmmakers Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, the film version of the play follows British comedian Jonny Donahoe in the role of a young boy who develops a list of the small pleasures of life in an effort to rouse his mother from the depths of depression.

The film is executive produced by Jean Doumanian and Patrick Daly, with Sheila Nevins as executive producer and Lisa Heller as supervising producer on the HBO side.

The play, written by Duncan McMillan and Jonny Donahoe, earned critical nods for his skillfully humorous yet poignant story about a child coping with mental fragility.

Premiering at the 2016 DOC NYC festival, Every Brilliant Thing was filmed in 2015 at NYC’s Barrow Street Theatre, where Donahoe not only articulates the changing pleasures of life through a list that grows from childhood through boyhood and youth into old age, but he also draws the audience into the story by giving them bit roles as characters in his life – his dog’s vet, one his his college professors, his fiancé, for instance.

Every Brilliant Thing will mark its television debut on Dec. 26 at 8 p.m. ET/PT, and will also be available on HBO Now, HBO Go, HBO on Demand and affiliate portals.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for HMV.com. As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.

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