HBO preps “Nixon by Nixon,” “Captivated” for summer slate

The Newburgh Sting, Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart (pictured), Nixon by Nixon and a firefighting film from actor Steve Buscemi lead the parade of HBO documentaries on the U.S. pay-TV net's summer/fall slate.
July 11, 2014

HBO has set its Monday night documentary schedule for most of the second half of the year, commencing with the July 21 broadcast of  The Newburgh Sting.

Directed by Kate Davis and David Heilbroner (Jockey) the doc presents the story of the FBI’s involvement in the U.S. terror case of “The Newburgh Four,” which saw an FBI informant drawing four African-Americans into a plot to bomb Jewish synagogues in New York and fire Stinger missiles at U.S. military supply planes.

The film is the first of 11 documentaries that will be aired between now and November, as part of the U.S. pay-TV network’s new Monday night doc slot.

Airing July 28, Love Child - an official selection of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival – sees director Valerie Veatch telling the story of Internet addiction through a South Korean couple who were tried in 2010 for the negligent death of their daughter, due to their obsession with online gaming. John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile, is exec producer.

Elsewhere, Nixon By Nixon: In His Own Words (August 4) sees Peter Kundhart, director of HBO’s Gloria: In Her Own Words and the Emmy-winning Teddy: In His Own Words, adding to his canon with a doc on former U.S. president Richard Nixon, based on hours of recently declassified audiotapes recorded in the White House.

The documentary captures Nixon’s candid thoughts on the Vietnam War, the Pentagon Papers leak and his views on women, people of color and many other issues.

Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart (pictured above) looks at the titular teacher who was accused of plotting the 1990 murder of her husband, and was the subject of the first fully televised court case in America. Directed by Jeremiah Zagar (HBO’s In A Dream) and airing August 18, the film looks at the role media coverage may have played in her trial and her sentencing, and includes an interview with Smart herself.

Airing September 8, A Good Job: Stories of The FDNY: (September 8) sees actor Steve Buscemi, a former firefighter, and director Liz Garbus (Love Marilyn) exploring the professional lives of New York firefighters, from old New York to the post-9/11 landscape.

Terror in Nairobi (September 15) comes next, from director Dan Reed, and follows on from the filmmaker’s previous HBO films Terror in Moscow and Terror in Mumbai. The doc examines the Islamist group al-Shabaab’s storming of the West Gate Mall in Kenya, which resulted in 67 deaths and 125 injuries on September 21, 2013. Reed’s film features previously unseen footage and photographs of the tragedy.

Airing in October, Hunted: The War Against Gays in Russia, directed by Ben Steele, promises an investigation of the growing climate of hostility due to Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law, which has resulted in an increase of violent attacks against gay men and women.

Airing the same month, Private Violence – directed by Cynthia Hill and another official Sundance selection - tells the story of Deanna Walters and advocate Kit Gruelle, as they seek justice in the Federal Court system concerning intimate partner abuse.

In November, The Last Patrol sees author and filmmaker Sebastian Junger (Restrepo, Korengal) walking along the train tracks from Washington DC to Philadelphia, and then Pittsburgh over the course of a year, joined by a fellow war reporter and two combat veterans, to examine the interdependence and intimacy of soldiers in combat and discover the pulse of America.

Regarding Susan Sontag (December) promises an intimate and nuanced profile of the literary, political and feminist icon, directed by Nancy Kates, with Sontag’s words read by actor Patricia Clarkson.

Finally, and also airing in December, Saving My Tomorrow: Kids Care For The Planet is a series that has seen appearances and readings by Alan Cummings, Jeffrey Wright, Susan Sarandon, Pharrell Williams and others, in which kids share their thoughts on everything from endangered animals and climate change to photosynthesis and flower pollination.

A call from kids to kids to take care of the planet, it will be followed by a four-part monthly series launching on Earth Day in 2015.

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