Upfronts ’14: CMT unveils news and docs division

Country music-focused U.S. net CMT is launch a News & Docs division, with Morgan Spurlock and Sir Ridley Scott (pictured) among the producers tapped to make non-fiction works for the initial slate.
April 2, 2014

Country music-focused U.S. net CMT is launch a News & Docs division, with Morgan Spurlock and Sir Ridley Scott (pictured) among the producers tapped for the initial slate.

Unveiling the new division at CMT’s upfront presentation today (April 2) in New York, CMT’s exec VP of programming and development Jayson Dinsmore said that the docs division would launch with a slate of “bold and compelling stories that reflect big personalities and monumental events that helped define America, our music and our spirit.”

He added: “We’ve partnered with some of the most respected and visionary filmmakers working today, all charged with producing unique documentaries through an authentic and distinctive lens.”

Forthcoming documentaries will include Promiseland from executive producer Scott; They Called Us Outlaws, from filmmaker Eric Geadelmann and Academy Award-winner Mark Johnson; Freedom, from Academy Award-nominee Spurlock; and Urban Legend: When a Nation Went Country, from John Dorsey and Andrew Stephan, the producers of ESPN’s Pony Excess.

Promiseland, which is being made by Scott’s prodco Scott Free Productions, is a four-hour doc miniseries celebrating “the unsung hero” of the United States: the American farmer.

It promises to highlight “the captivating true stories of farming families with agricultural roots that trace back for generations,” featuring “innovative storytelling and sweeping cinematic visuals [to reveal] how these hard working men and women form the backbone of our nation,” according to CMT.

Meanwhile, They Called Us Outlaws: Cosmic Cowboys, Honky Tonk Heroes and the Rise of Redneck Rock is an eight-hour doc series looking at the shift in the country music scene in Nashville and in Austin in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The series is produced by Crowfly Pictures Entertainment and Filament Productions and was written, directed and produced by Geadelmann, Kelly Magelsky and Ken Levitan, and executive produced by Johnson, Joe Nick Patoski, Cal Turner, Margaret Turner, Craig Eiland, Randy Paul, Ray Benson and Mickey Raphael.

From Spurlock and his indie Warrior Poets, Freedom is a 90-minute film promising an in-depth look at “the idea of independence, and whether we’re all still truly liberated in today’s America.” CMT says it will “traverse the country, meeting the outlaws, the outlandish and the outspoken freedom fighters who are fighting the good fight every step of the way.”

Finally, Urban Legend: When a Nation Went Country is a feature-length doc delving into “the phenomenon sparked by the 1980 film Urban Cowboy – when country music found itself in vogue nationally for the first time in history.” The film is produced by Ten100 Productions and directed by Dorsey and Stephan.

Jayson Dinsmore and Lewis Bogach serve as exec producers for CMT’s News & Docs division.

About The Author
Jillian Morgan is the Associate Editor at Realscreen with a background in journalism and digital marketing. She joined the publication in 2019 after serving as the assistant editor to trade publications HPAC and On-Site. With a bachelor of journalism from the University of King's College in Halifax, she also works as a freelance writer and fact-checker.