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XTR documentary to celebrate history of “Reading Rainbow” TV series

Premium documentary studio XTR will explore the history of iconic children’s TV show, Reading Rainbow, in a new feature documentary. The film, titled Butterfly in the Sky, will cover the 26-year ...
September 2, 2021

Premium documentary studio XTR will explore the history of iconic children’s TV show, Reading Rainbow, in a new feature documentary.

The film, titled Butterfly in the Sky, will cover the 26-year run and influence of the educational TV program that has been a classroom staple for years. The documentary is currently in production and covers how a group of broadcasters, educators, filmmakers and the series’ host actor LeVar Burton inspired a lifelong love of reading in children with their series.

Reading Rainbow won more than 250 awards since its debut in 1983, including 26 Emmys and a Peabody Award. The film will include archival footage and interviews with Burton, major broadcasters, educators and filmmakers involved in the series’ run. XTR has said the film is inspired by documentaries like Won’t You Be My Neighbor and I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story.

Butterfly in the Sky will be directed by Bradford Thomason and Brett Whitcomb (Glow: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, Jasper Mall), and is a Sidestilt Films production. Bryan Storkel (Alabama Snake, The Legend of Cocaine Island) will produce the film with XTR’s Bryn Mooser, Justin Lacob and Kathryn Everett executive producing.

“Reading Rainbow was my window into the big city and into diverse cultures,” Whitcomb said.

“With segments like those in ‘Hill of Fire,’ ‘Liang’ and the ‘Magic Paintbrush,’ and countless other episodes, Reading Rainbow was arguably the first time I encountered ‘documentary-style’ television as a young person, planting a seed that would inspire me for the rest of my life and lead me to where I am in my career to this day.”

The film’s other director Thomason added:  “As a Mexican-American growing up in Houston, I was always surrounded by diversity. More than any show on television, Reading Rainbow reflected the cultures that surrounded me. When the book fair came to my school, I went straight for the Reading Rainbow titles. I didn’t know it at the time, but the show’s mission statement was manifesting itself in me. I devour books to this day and I know Reading Rainbow had a hand in that.”

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