TCA: WarnerMedia boosts non-scripted programming lineup at HBO

HBO Documentary Films has revealed its slate of documentaries headed for WarnerMedia subsidiaries in 2020 and beyond during the company’s summer Television Critics Association press tour, which was held digitally ...
August 5, 2020

HBO Documentary Films has revealed its slate of documentaries headed for WarnerMedia subsidiaries in 2020 and beyond during the company’s summer Television Critics Association press tour, which was held digitally on Wednesday (Aug. 5).

Anchoring the slate is The Lady and the Dale, the latest collaboration between HBO and the Emmy Award-winning Duplass Brothers.

Directed by Nick Cammilleri and Zackary Drucker, the documentary series traces the story of entrepreneur Elizabeth Carmichael, who quickly rose to fame after marketing fuel-efficient three-wheeled Dale sports car during the 1970s gas crisis.

The docuseries will chart the “extraordinary rise” and devastating fall of Carmichael as a web of mystery unravels surrounding the car’s technology and Carmichael’s shady past.

The Lady and the Dale, which is expected to air in 2021, is executive produced by Mark and Jay Duplass and Mel Eslyn through their production company Duplass Brothers Productions (Wild Wild Country).

Andre Gaines, Allen Bain, Nick Cammilleri, Alana Carithers and Zackary Drucker will also serve as executive producers.

Additionally, HBO Documentary Films is currently in production on Seen & Heard, from executive producer Issa Rae.

Directed and produced by Phil Bertelsen (Who Killed Malcolm X?), the two-part doc will set out to explore the history of Black television as seen through the lens of the trailblazers who “wrote, produced, created and starred in groundbreaking series of the past and present.”

The film will provide cultural commentary about representation in Black storytelling and features interviews with actors, showrunners, writers, celebrities and other notable influencers who will share their current creative endeavors while reflecting on their own experiences of being represented by African Americans onscreen.

Seen & Heard is exec produced by Rae and Montrel McKay of Issa Rae Productions. Executive producers also include Jonathan Berry and David Becky of 3 Arts Entertainment and Rachel Dretzin and Esther Dere of Ark Media.

“Black people have such a rich, but often unacknowledged history in Hollywood,” said Rae in a statement. “We have defined American culture and influenced generations time and time again across the globe. I’m honored to pair with Ark Media to center and celebrate the achievements of those who paved a way for so many of us to tell our stories on television.”

In other news, HBO confirmed it will premiere the documentary Siempre, Luis in the second half of 2020. The network acquired the worldwide television and streaming rights to the film following its world premiere at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.

In Siempre, Luis, first-time filmmaker John James presents a portrait of Luis A. Miranda Jr., father of American composer Lin-Manuel Miranda and a Puerto Rican migrant who helped shape New York politics over three decades.

Elsewhere, starting in November, HBO will feature a weekly anthology of crime-focused documentary films.

Crazy, Not Insane, directed and produced by Academy Award winner Alex Gibney (HBO’s The Inventor: Out For Blood In Silicon Valley), profiles forensic psychiatrist Dorothy Otnow Lewis.

Lewis has spent her life investigating the “interior lives” of violent people, working with serial killers such as Ted Bundy. Her work with patients with Dissociative Identity Disorders led her to develop a “theory of what makes a killer,” and made her a “polarizing expert witness.”

Baby God (pictured), directed by Hannah Olson and executive produced by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, examines the dark legacy of a Las Vegas fertility specialist, the late Quincy Fortier, who assisted couples struggling with conceiving.

Decades later, many children born from his interventions discover through DNA and genealogical websites that Fortier had used his own sperm to impregnate their mothers without their knowledge or consent.

Both Crazy, Not Insane and Baby God were both official selections of the 2020 South by Southwest Film Festival (SXSW). Crazy, Not Insane, meanwhile, will also screen at the 2020 Venice Film Festival where it will world premiere.

HBO’s true crime slate continues with John Dower’s The Mystery of DB Cooper, which tells the stories of four people believed by their family and friends to be DB Cooper, a man who hijacked a 727 flying out of Seattle and jumped from the plane over Washington State with a parachute and $200,000, never to be heard from again.

Alabama Snake, directed by Theo Love and produced by Bryan Storkel, explores the story of Oct. 4, 1991, when a violent crime was reported in the town of Scottsboro, Alabama.

Glenn Summerford, a Pentecostal minister, was accused of attempting to murder his wife with a rattlesnake. The details of the investigation and the trial that followed has “haunted Southern Appalachia for decades.”

Alabama Snake features local historian and folklorist, Thomas Burton, who has spent his life studying the culture, beliefs, and folklore of Pentecostal snake handlers, painting a “Southern Gothic portrait” of Summerford and his tale of demon possession

Titles previously set for the first half of 2020, including The Art of Political Murder, directed by Paul Taylor, and Transhood, directed by Sharon Liese, will premiere in the second half of this year.

Finally, HBO will premiere the documentary The Soul of America this fall.

Based on Jon Meacham’s 2018 bestseller, the film examines today’s political reality through the historical challenges of the past such as the women’s suffrage movement, the incarceration of Japanese

Americans, McCarthyism, and the struggle to pass Civil Rights legislation in the 1960s.

The Soul of America is directed by Katie Davison, produced by George Kunhardt and Teddy Kunhardt, executive produced by Peter Kunhardt.

With files from Daniele Alcinii and Jillian Morgan

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