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Bee Gees, Go-Go’s Documentaries in the Works at Polygram

Polygram Entertainment has unveiled a quartet of music documentaries in development on the Bee Gees, the Go-Go’s, hip-hop jewelry and the origins of mixtapes, Variety has learned exclusively.

Polygram, which was revived in 2017 by Universal Music Group, rolled out details of the projects Saturday afternoon during a pre-Grammys showcase in downtown Los Angeles. Members of the Go-Go’s were in attendance along with UMG executives Michele Anthony and David Blackman and veteran film producer Frank Marshall, who’s handling the Bee Gees documentary.

Since 2017, Polygram has co-distributed Ron Howard’s “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years” and developed several notable upcoming projects: a Luciano Pavarotti documentary directed by Howard, a Velvet Underground documentary directed by Todd Haynes and “Hitsville: The Making of Motown.”

The Bee Gees documentary feature is authorized by Barry Gibb and the families of his late brothers Maurice Gibb and Robin Gibb. The film will be presented and fully financed by Polygram, Capitol Records and UMPG, and produced by the Kennedy/Marshall Company, White Horse Pictures and Diamond Docs. Marshall is directing and will produce with Nigel Sinclair (“Eight Days a Week”), Mark Monroe and White Horse Pictures’ Jeanne Elfant Festa.

The film, which will have complete access to all the Bee Gees archives, will follow the group, which formed in 1966 and went on to have a run of hits for another three decades.

“I have had an incredibly fortunate life and think back to the good times with my beloved brothers with a huge sense of awe,” Barry Gibb said. “And time gives us all a chance to look back and celebrate with a new perspective. I know our family is in excellent hands with Frank, Nigel and the talented team of filmmakers behind the doc. I am eternally grateful and excited to be able to share our unique journey with audiences around the world.”

Marshall told Variety that he began working on the project when he met Barry Gibb at the 2015 Grammys. He teamed up with Sinclair last year and plans to finish the film by the end of this year.

“I’ve always been impressed with the longevity of the Bee Gees,” Marshall added. “I reached out to Nigel because of ‘Eight Days a Week.’ I saw it and said ‘I want that.’”

Showtime announced Saturday that it has acquired the US rights to the untitled Go-Go’s documentary and plans to release the film later this year, while Sky Arts is the UK broadcast partner. Alison Ellwood directs the film and Corey Russell and Trevor Birney produce. The Go-Go’s rose to fame following the release of their 1981 debut album, “Beauty and the Beat.”

“We lived it and we survived it,” said the Go-Go’s. “Now, looking back on our history through this film, we can appreciate our journey, laughter, triumphs and struggles as a band. We hope this documentary will show the world what pioneers we were, and how our experience paved the way for other musicians.”

Polygram unveiled the working title Saturday for the mixtapes project — “From Scratch: How Mixtapes Changed Music Forever” — and said Def Jam and Saboteur Media are also producing with Omar Acosta directing. Acosta, Nick Quested (“Restrepo”) David Kennedy and “Mix Tape King” Tony Touch serve as producers. Touch is also the music supervisor.

The project is being launched as a celebration of the 35th anniversary of the Def Jam label and will include recording of exclusive material from Def Jam artists. “From Scratch” will explore the evolution of mixtapes in which hip-hop artists and record promoters found themselves torn between the need for credibility and the piracy inherent in the medium.

A limited-edition cassette will be released by Def Jam in conjunction with the film.

The hip-hop jewelry movie, titled “Ice Cold,” is directed by Karam Gill as a production from Polygram Entertainment, Mass Appeal and Quality Control. Producers are Kevin “Coach K” Lee (Quality Control), Pierre “Pee” Thomas (Quality Control), and Daniel Seliger (UMG/Polygram).

“Ice Cold” features artists including Lil Baby, Lil Yachty Dave East, DJ Mustard, Talib Kweli, Slick Rick, Eric B & Rakim, Blocboy JB, French Montana, A-Boogie, Fetty Wap, A$AP Ferg, as well as celebrity jewelers including Ben Baller, Johnny Dang, Elliott Avianne and Mr. Flawless. Exec producers include Peter Bittenbender (Mass Appeal), Sacha Jenkins (Mass Appeal), Chris Gary (Mass Appeal), hip hop group Migos, Ethiopia Habtemariam (Motown) and Barak Moffitt (UMG).


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‘Queen Mary’ Horror Finds Captain in ‘Dracula Untold’ Director Gary Shore

The film — being introduced to buyers in Berlin by Rocket Science — will be shot on the real-life and allegedly haunted former ocean liner the Queen Mary.


A horror feature inspired by the legendary alleged haunting of real-life ocean liner the Queen Mary is finally setting sail, The Hollywood Reporter has learned, with the upcoming project due to dock first at the European Film Market in Berlin next month.

Gary Shore, who made a major box office splash with 2014’s Dracula Untold, has been tapped to helm The Queen Mary. Rocket Science is fully financing the project and also representing worldwide sales.

Developed by Brett Tomberlin, the film will be produced by Nigel Sinclair and Nicholas Ferrall of White Horse Pictures (The Woman in Black, The Beatles: Eight Days A Week), Brett Tomberlin (Winchester) for Imagination Design Works and Thorsten Schumacher and Lars Sylvest for Rocket Science (Resistance).

Tobin Armbrust will executive produce together with White Horse’s Cassidy Hartmann. Andy Trapani, Brian Gilbert and Steve Sheldon of Epic Entertainment Group will also serve as executive producers. White Horse Pictures’ Jeanne Elfant Festa will co-executive produce. Tom Vaughan and Jordan Rambis will co-produce. Mali Elfman is producing and Mark Tomberlin is executive producing as part of Imagination Design Works.

Described by Time magazine as “One of the world’s most haunted places,” the RMS Queen Mary was one of the first ships built by the Cunard-White Star Line. Unlike its infamous predecessor, Titanic, this ship survived a tidal wave, a mid-ocean collision, sabotage attempts and Hitler placing a $250,000 bounty to sink her during WWII.

However, after being retired and docking permanently in Long Beach, California in 1967, there were claims that the ship was haunted, with one of the staterooms alleged to contain the spirit of a person supposedly murdered there. It now operates attraction experiences based around this legend.

The upcoming film will center around photographers Erin and Patrick, who are brought aboard the vessel with their young son Lukas and unleash a series of events that entwines their family with the ship’s dark past.

According to The Queen Mary‘s synopsis, as the terror unfolds around the family they begin to realize there is more to this sumptuous ocean liner than meets the eye: its remarkable legacy masking violent secrets. As Erin and Patrick uncover the haunted layers that the vast ship contains, it becomes increasingly clear that there is only one way out for them — to go even deeper.

The Queen Mary will be the first horror film to be shot on board the actual real-life ship.


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Ron Howard’s ‘Pavarotti’ Movie Sells Around The World For White Horse Pictures & HanWay Films

Terry O'Neill/Decca/REX/Shutterstock

EXCLUSIVE: Ron Howard’s AFM buyer presentation for documentary Pavarotti, about iconic opera singer Luciano Pavarotti, was one of the hot tickets at last month’s market. Distributors have responded well to the project with a string of key deals inked by White Horse Pictures and HanWay Films.

Deals have closed for Germany and Austria (Wild Bunch), Spain (A Contracorriente), China (DDD Dream), Australia/NZ (Madman), Japan (Gaga) and South Korea (AUD). Italy has been licensed in collaboration with TIMVision and producer Wildside, the former being Telecom Italia’s growing streaming platform, which has picked up films and hit shows such as The Handmaid’s Tale and Elena Ferrante adaptation My Brilliant Friend. Wildside execs across the Italy deal included Lorenzo Gangarossa, Mario Gianani, and Lorenzo Mieli. A separate theatrical deal is also in the works.

Pre-sales have also been finalized for Benelux (The Searchers), CIS / Baltics (Volga Film), Czech Rep, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania (Prorom), Former Yugoslavia (Discovery), Greece (Odeon), Israel (Shoval), Middle East (Front Row), Poland (Best Film), Scandinavia (Svensk), Singapore (Shaw), Switzerland (Pathé Films), Taiwan (Moviecloud) and Turkey (Filmarti).

Oscar-winner Howard and producer Nigel Sinclair (Rush) presented nine minutes of footage to buyers during AFM. The doc biopic, currently in post-production, will feature memorable performances, including classic songs from Pavarotti’s Three Tenors days, previously unseen footage and talking heads including his widow Nicoletta and U2 frontman Bono. The project has buy-in from Pavarotti’s family and estate.

The director told us during AFM the release would have an event element to it, with Pavarotti performances available to play in cinemas after the film’s credits have rolled. Release is due early next year.

The film is fully financed by Universal Music Group’s Polygram Entertainment and Decca Records, Pavarotti’s lifelong record label. Creative team includes The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years writer Mark Monroe and editor Paul Crowder. Producers are Nigel Sinclair, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Michael Rosenberg and Jeanne Elfant Festa. Executive producers are Polygram’s David Blackman and Decca Records’ Dickon Stainer along with White Horse’s Guy East and Nicholas Ferrall and Diamond Doc’s Paul Crowder and Mark Monroe.

The famed Italian tenor, who came from humble roots and initially wanted to be a soccer goalkeeper, was struck down by a life-threatening illness at a young age. He would go on to become a cultural and global icon, selling more than 100M records, known for his legendary performances of Nessun Dorma, which became a theme for the 1990 World Cup. He was also known for his charitible and philanthropic work. He passed in 2007.

Ron Howard Teases Upcoming Pavarotti Movie At Buyer Event, Reveals Release Plans — AFM

Multi-Oscar winner Ron Howard was at the American Film Market in Los Angeles this morning to stir up buyer interest in his upcoming Luciano Pavarotti documentary Pavarotti.

Howard, HanWay Films and producer Nigel Sinclair (Rush) hosted two busy buyer presentations for the film at the Shutters on the Beach hotel. The director’s enthusiasm for his opera singer subject and stirring footage impressed buyers we spoke to.

The doc biopic will feature memorable performances, including classic songs from Pavarotti’s Three Tenors days, previously unseen footage and talking heads including his widow Nicoletta and U2 frontman Bono. The project has buy-in from Pavarotti’s family and estate.

Howard told us after the private presentation, “It’s impossible to imagine that this kid would wind up as Pavarotti. The demands of his art-form were remarkable. It was almost an athletic achievement what he accomplished through performance. He had a great gift but that wasn’t all. He had charm, charisma, he chose to live his life in a state of appreciation and excitement and joy about what the world had to offer. That’s very inspiring. He also had a tremendous commitment and selflessness which is worth celebrating. At a time like this, today, that is a story worth reminding people about.”

The film will also have an event element to it, a smart addition at a time when event cinema is booming. Producer Sinclair, who collaborated with Howard on Rush and documentary The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years revealed to us, “After the Beatles movie we showed performances from the famous Shea Stadium concert. With Pavarotti, which will be mixed in Dolby Atmos, we’re going to include three classic Pavarotti arias after the movie so audiences who have enjoyed the film can then sit and listen to three of his beautiful performances. That will be part of the buyers’ package on the movie.”

Howard enthused to buyers on multiple occasions, “Pavarotti’s life was an opera.” The famed Italian tenor, who came from humble roots and initially wanted to be a soccer goalkeeper, was struck down by a life-threatening illness at a young age. He would go on to become a cultural and global icon, selling more than 100M records, known for his legendary performances of Nessun Dorma, which became a theme for the 1990 World Cup. He was also known for his charity and philanthropical work. He passed in 2007.

HanWay and Sinclair’s White Horse are selling at the AFM. Pic is being made by Universal Music Group’s Polygram Entertainment, Decca Records (the singer’s lifelong record label), Imagine Entertainment and White Horse Pictures. Currently in post-production, it is due to be ready next year.

As for Howard, his next narrative feature remains unknown but he and Imagine are currently developing a host of hot projects for film and TV, including features Hillbilly Elegy and Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book for Disney.


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Ron Howard brings ‘Pavarotti’ sizzle reel to AFM

HanWay Films is understood to have closed two major deals on its Luciano Pavarotti documentary, which Ron Howard trumpeted to AFM buyers at a sizzle reel presentation at Shutters on the Beach on Saturday [3].

“I had no idea how charismatic he was,” Howard said of the late Italian tenor, whom he had admired from afar despite not being an opera aficionado prior to embarking on his third documentary.

Now in the final stages of a project that started two years ago and is expected to be ready by the first quarter of 2019, Howard told Screendaily, “We finished our editing and I am still playing Pavarotti every morning.”

However for Howard, the story of the world-renowned Pavarotti was very different to that of The Fab Four, whom he profiled in The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years.

“There’s so much footage and he is so funny and wise and revealing in his interviews so I thought, ‘Let’s let him tell this story.’ It’s really a character study,” said Howard.

The sizzle showed Pavarotti at his first rehearsal with Placido Domingo and José Carreras in their incarnation as The Three Tenors, and previously unseen footage of Pavarotti singing in the Amazon rainforest, where he performed in the 1990s to a deserted Amazon Theatre that featured in the film Fizzcarraldo.

Pavarotti touches on the great tenor’s activism in later life and features on-camera contributions from Bono, and his widow Nicoletta Mantovani. Producer Jeanne Elfant Festa of White Horse Pictures was instrumental in getting the cooperation of Pavarotti’s first wife Adua Veroni, and Mantovani.

“It’s very clear from the film he is a world citizen,” said producer Nigel Sinclair of White Horse Pictures, who collaborated with Howard on The Beatles documentary. Sinclair told Screendaily the music will be mixed in Dolby Atmos. “Pavarotti’s voice has so much texture and listening to it, you can almost feel you can touch it.” Sinclair added that the plan is to play three arias sung by Pavarotti after theatrical presentations as a bonus for cinema-goers.

Earlier this year Imagine Documentaries and White Horse Pictures struck a non-exclusive partnership. “Every [documentary] so far has been a good filmmaking experience,” said Howard. ”I have really enjoyed it. The collaboration is great and virtually the same team that worked on The Beatles. I feel very supported – it’s a great safety net. I’ve been surprised by how much of my own storytelling sensibilities I am able to bring to the films and how much I lean about it.”

Pavarotti is being produced by Polygram Entertainment, Decca Records, Imagine Entertainment, and White Horse Pictures.

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Imagine Documentaries, White Horse Pictures Form Strategic Partnership

EXCLUSIVE: Imagine Documentaries and White Horse Pictures have entered into a multi-year, non-exclusive partnership. The arrangement was brokered by Imagine Entertainment Co-Chairman Michael Rosenberg, Imagine Documentaries President Justin Wilkes and White Horse Pictures Chairman Nigel Sinclair and President Nicholas Ferrall.

They will generate documentaries, which Wilkes will oversee with White Horse’s Docu head Jeanne Elfant-Festa and partner Cassidy Hartmann. Imagine’s expansion into docus was initiated by co-chairmen Brian Grazer and Ron Howard.

“Brian, Ron and I have had a long and successful relationship with award-winning producer Nigel Sinclair and White Horse, from the film Rush to the documentary The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years and now on our documentary on world renowned tenor Luciano Pavarotti, which is currently in production. We are excited for this opportunity and to be working together in this newly formed partnership,” said Rosenberg.

Said Sinclair: “We have had a great journey with Brian, Ron and Michael. Pavarotti is now our fourth collaboration, and we are very excited to work with Justin and continue our success together.”

Hartmann and Elfant-Festa are currently in production on Roger Ross Williams’ Untitled Apollo Theater Documentary. Elfant-Festa and Sinclair are working with Imagine on the Ron Howard-directed Pavarotti, and Ferrall is leading the Untitled Tupac Shakur Documentary.

With the recent announcement of the New York-based doc group, Imagine has been expanding its footprint in the premium documentary film and non-scripted TV space. Beyond The Beatles docu that Howard directed, they’ve over the years made Jay Z’s Made in America, Prophet’s Prey, Katy Perry: Part of Me, Inside Deep Throat, and Beyond The Mat. In addition to Pavarotti, the company is currently responsible for the hit National Geographic hybrid series Mars and Breakthrough.



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“As Time Goes By” – A memoir by Derek Taylor

Our fellow producer on The Beatles: Eight Days A Week, Jonathan Clyde, worked on the reissue of Derek Taylor’s memoir called As Time Goes By. Derek Taylor played an instrumental role in The Beatles’ career, and was also featured in The Beatles: Eight Days A Week.

Preorder the book on Amazon here

First published in 1973, Faber & Faber will reissue As Time Goes By, the memoir of Beatles publicist Derek Taylor, in the United States on May 5th, 2018. It features a new introduction by Jon Savage and new artwork. 

‘When, in a generation or so, a radio-active, cigar-smoking child, picnicking on Saturn, asks you what the Beatle affair was all about––“Did you actually know them?”––don’t try to explain all about the long hair and the screams! Just play the child a few tracks from this album and he’ll probably understand what it was all about. The kids of AD2000 will draw from the music much the same sense of well being and warmth as we do today.’
Derek Taylor: sleeve note to Beatles for Sale, 1964

Arguably the first piece of classic literature to emerge from the much- documented lives of The Fab Four, As Time Goes Byis a mischievous portrait of life as a PR Svengali at the high point of sixties pop.

One of the first sixties pop-cultural history books to be published, As Time Goes By is primarily about The Beatles and Apple but it also takes in Taylor’s sojourn in radical mid-sixties Los Angeles. The twenty-six chapters include material about The Beatles’ frenetic summer 1964 World Tour, The Byrds and the Sunset Strip in 1966 and 1967, and the changes that occurred in Apple between its utopian beginnings in 1967 and The Beatles’ break-up in 1970. With wit, warmth, insider knowledge and a healthy dollop of self-deprecation, Derek Taylor tells the essential story of those extraordinary years: this book is essential for anyone interested in experiencing the flavour of The Beatles and sixties pop and youth culture in a unique, contemporaneous voice.

“An authentic account of the psychedelic 60s and The Beatles from one of the coolest guys in the business.”Neil Tennant

Derek Taylor was The Beatles’ Press Officer in 1964 and the Apple Press Officer between 1968 and 1970. Between times he represented many acts including The Beach Boys and The Byrds. He continued to work with The Beatles in the 1980s and 1990s, particularly on the Anthology book and film project. He published six books, of which this is the first.


Silent Night

Our Psychological Thriller based during WWII is in development now.

Oscar Winner Roger Ross Williams To Helm Apollo Theater Documentary Project From White Horse Pictures

Photo by David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock

EXCLUSIVE: Roger Ross Williams, who won the 2010 Oscar for his documentary short, Music By Prudence, is directing an authorized documentary feature on the famed Apollo Theater in Harlem. The announcement was made today by Jonelle Procope, President and CEO of The Apollo Theater, and Nigel Sinclair of White Horse Pictures.

Currently filming in New York, the film will detail the lifespan of the Apollo Theater through the stories of the present-day Apollo and the challenges of those who run it, the film will illuminate the theater’s musical and cultural history, and explore how it has managed to stay at the center of America’s conversation about race and social progress since 1934. The film will look to explore the legendary music, dance, and comedy performances that graced the Apollo’s stage.

“The Apollo’s contribution to American culture is immeasurable, and I am incredibly honored and excited to share its story with a global audience,” said Williams. “I hope this film will not only help to preserve the theater’s rich legacy, but also show how this treasured institution is nurturing the next generation of visionary artists.”

Williams and Cassidy Hartmann (The Beatles: Eight Days A Week) wrote the script, which is being produced by Lisa Cortes (Precious), White Horse’s Sinclair, Jeanne Elfant Festa, and Cassidy Hartmann, along with Williams.

“We are so proud and fortunate to be working with Roger on this incredibly powerful story,” said Sinclair. “We are also so grateful to the whole team that’s helped bring this project to fruition for the Apollo. Special thanks to Dan Cogan for his indefatigable guidance and leadership on that journey.”

Impact Partners is financing the project alongside the Chicago Media Project, Universal Music Group’s Polygram Entertainment, MACRO, Carlene Laughlin, Dave Knott, and the Ford Foundation.

Exec producers are Nicholas Ferrall of White Horse, Julie Goldman of Motto Pictures, and the Apollo Theater’s Procope, Dan Cogan and Geralyn Dreyfous for Impact Partners, Cynthia Sexton and David Blackman for Polygram Entertainment, Ken Pelletier and the Lagralane Group for Chicago Media Group, MACRO’s Charles D. King, Kim Roth and Poppy Hanks, as well as Jayson Jackson. Steven Cohen and Paula Froehle will serve as co-executive producers.

“The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years” Emmy Awards & Nominations


2 Wins 5 Nominations



Outstanding Picture Editing for a Nonfiction Program – 2017

  • Nominee
  • The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years
    Apple Corps Ltd., White Horse Pictures and Imagine Entertainment in association with Diamond Docs
    Paul Crowder, Editor



Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special – 2017

  • Nominee
  • The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years
    Apple Corps Ltd., White Horse Pictures and Imagine Entertainment in association with Diamond Docs
    Nigel Sinclair, Produced by
    Scott Pascucci, Produced by
    Brian Grazer, Produced by
    Ron Howard, Produced by
    Jeff Jones, Executive Producer
    Jonathan Clyde, Executive Producer
    Michael Rosenberg, Executive Producer
    Nicholas Ferrall, Executive Producer
    Guy East, Executive Producer
    Marc Ambrose, Supervising Producer



Outstanding Sound Editing for a Nonfiction Program (Single or Multi-Camera) – 2017

  • Winner
  • The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years
    Apple Corps Ltd., White Horse Pictures and Imagine Entertainment in association with Diamond Docs
    Jon Michaels, Co-Supervising Sound Editor
    Cameron Frankley, Co-Supervising Sound Editor
    Harrison Meyle, Dialogue Editor
    Dan Kenyon, Sound Effects Editor
    Will Digby, Sound Effects Editor
    Melissa Muik, Music Editor



Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Nonfiction Program (Single or Multi-Camera) – 2017

  • Winner
  • The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years
    Apple Corps Ltd., White Horse Pictures and Imagine Entertainment in association with Diamond Docs
    Chris Jenkins, Re-Recording Mixer
    Cameron Frankley, Re-Recording Mixer
    Nathan Evans, Production Mixer
    Sam Okell, Music Mixer



Outstanding Writing for a Nonfiction Program – 2017

  • Nominee
  • The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years
    Apple Corps Ltd., White Horse Pictures and Imagine Entertainment in association with Diamond Docs
    Mark Monroe, Written by


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