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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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‘The Beatles: Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years’ grabs five Emmy Award nominations


When the nominations for the 2017 edition of the Primetime Emmy Awards were announced by The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences on the morning of July 13, The Beatles‘ 2016 film The Beatles: Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years, directed by Ron Howard, was listed for awards in five categories.The film, which looked at the Beatles in concert from 1963 to 1966, was nominated for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special; Outstanding Picture Editing For A Nonfiction Program; Outstanding Writing for a Nonfiction Program; Outstanding Picture Editing For A Nonfiction Program; Outstanding Sound Editing For A Nonfiction Program (Single Or Multi-Camera) and Outstanding Sound Mixing For A Nonfiction Program (Single or Multi-Camera).

An assortment of competitors will be with them in the five categories, but one will be facing off against them in all five – Netflix’s 13th. In three of those categories, Outstanding Writing for a Nonfiction Program, Outstanding Sound Mixing For A Nonfiction Program (Single or Multi-Camera) and Outstanding Sound Editing For A Nonfiction Program (Single Or Multi-Camera), the documentary will also be up against three segments of CNN’s Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.”

The five nominations The Beatles: Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years are on top of the Grammy Award it received for Best Music Film at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards in January. It was nominated for the award in December. The film has also won one other award — Best Music Film by the Critics Choice Awards and additionally has been nominated for 13 others, according to


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Ron Howard To Direct Feature Documentary On Iconic Opera Singer Luciano Pavarotti

Terry O'Neill/Decca/REX/Shutterstock

Following their successful collaboration on the The Beatles: Eight Days A Week, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment and Nigel Sinclair and Guy East’s White Horse Pictures will follow with a feature docu on the famed tenor and opera icon Luciano Pavarotti. Howard will direct the feature documentary. Much the way that The Beatles film greatly benefited from rare early footage, the Pavarotti pic will be bolstered with full access to the singer’s family archives, interviews and live music footage. The film will be made in collaboration with Universal Music Group partner Polygram Entertainment. Studiocanal will co-finance and will oversee international sales with White Horse Pictures. Latter will handle the North American distribution deal. Howard, Sinclair and Grazer will produce with Michael Rosenberg and Jeanne Elfant Festa. The goal is for the film to be ready for release next year.

“When we did The Beatles docu, or for that matter Jay-Z’s Made In America, the amazing music was a big benefit, but I’m always more fascinated in the human interest side and the stories behind the music,” Howard told Deadline. “As with The Beatles, Nigel Sinclair brought the idea to me of working on a docu about Pavarotti, and along with Nigel comes the same team of editor Paul Crowder and the executive producer and writer Mark Monroe. I didn’t know that much about opera, but always found Pavarotti a charismatic figure, whom I’d met in the 80s. Like with many people, he was my introduction to opera as something that was accessible, moving and emotional. Probably the only opera albums I bought were by Pavarotti. One of the pleasing things about The Beatles documentary was the opportunity to tell a compelling single viewing experience that honored and respected in an authentic way those who really knew their story and understood the nuances of the music and individuals, while heightening the curiosity of people who thought they knew The Beatles but really didn’t have any idea of the depth and power of their story. I hope to do the same here.”

Howard said while it was only possible to re-edit early archived Beatles footage because so many films had come before, Pavarotti’s own story is largely untouched, especially in the U.S., even though there is no shortage of resources. Pavarotti died in 2007 at age 71.

“He has been vastly documented and recorded enough that even though he’s not with us, we’re going to be able to allow Pavarotti to tell his own story,” Howard said. “I am now going to school on this. For instance, I had no idea what a physical feat it is to generate those sounds, especially night in and night out. It is the function of years of dedicated training and a commitment to turn your body into that kind of instrument. It’s not just a matter of some people having a good set of pipes and others don’t.”

Much the way that The Beatles film demonstrated how hours of playing dive clubs steeled the musicianship of the Mop Tops to the point they could play their songs in Shea Stadium without being able to hear the instruments, Pavarotti’s origins show the same kind of slow build. “He lived through the ravages of WWII, the son of a local baker who had a great voice and dreams of performing, and a mother who rolled cigars in a factory in Northern Italy where he grew up,” Howard said. “He struggled well into his twenties and was not any kind of prodigy. He emerged slowly but surely gained his acclaim and maintained it with a kind of athleticism I don’t think most of us understand is required to sing and perform at that level. He didn’t care much for money, but used his fame to become this ambassador for humanity because of the hardship he’d seen as a young man, and to expand the reach of opera. He took the unprecedented step of performing with the greatest pop stars of his era. It was controversial among opera purists but he took the chance because what was most important to him was that more people understood the power of opera and what it could mean to the heart and the mind. I hope the film can continue that effort. And when he led the Three Tenors, the popularity was unprecedented; for a few years, they were as big an act and sold as many or more records as Prince, Elton John or The Rolling Stones.”

Grazer met Pavarotti when he performed with James Brown at a time Imagine was developing the movie about the Godfather of Soul. “It’s gratifying to have an opportunity similar to The Beatles, who were different than people thought, these four genius musical savants living together with equal votes on their band. There are similar depths to the story of Pavarotti, even though he was the Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, The Beatles of his art form.”

It was Sinclair who was first approached about the documentary, during the making of The Beatles by Universal Music Group on behalf of its opera label Decca Records. Producer Jeanne Elfant Festa then went to Italy and tied down the cooperation of the late singer’s families, which was no small feat. “The producers are delighted that the family of Adua Veroni and their daughters Lorenza, Cristina and Giuliana, and the family of Nicoletta Mantovani and their daughter Alice, are lending their support to the project,” Sinclair said. “The estate wanted his whole story told, and they trusted Ron.”

White Horse’s Guy East and Nicholas Ferrall will be exec producers with Crowder and Monroe. Cassidy Hartmann will serve as a consulting writer and co-exec producer and Mark McCune is supervising producer. Also exec producing are Dickon Stainer, President and CEO of Global Classics, UMG, and David Blackman, Head of Polygram Entertainment, along with Didier Lupfer and Ron Halpern for Studiocanal.


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Steve McQueen To Direct Tupac Shakur Documentary

EXCLUSIVE: 12 Years A Slave helmer Steve McQueen will direct a full length feature documentary on the life of iconic hip hop star Tupac Shakur. A deal has come together between Estate trustee Tom Whalley and Amaru Entertainment, the company created by Afeni Shakur to release her son’s posthumous projects. They are teaming with Nigel Sinclair’s White Horse Pictures and Jayson Jackson to produce a fully authorized documentary with Amaru on the life of late hip-hop artist, writer and poet. McQueen, who won the Oscar for the Best Picture winner 12 Years A Slave will direct and Jayson Jackson (What Happened, Miss Simone?) will produce with Sinclair, the man behind a slew of musical documentaries including the most recent, The Beatles: Eight Days A Week–The Touring Years, along with Nicholas Ferrall and Whalley. Gloria Cox, Tupac Shakur’s aunt and Afeni Shakur’s only sister, will executive produce along with White Horse’s Jeanne Elfant Festa. White Horse Pictures will be the worldwide sales agent on the film.

Though his recording career only lasted five years, Shakur has sold over 75 million records worldwide and he recently became the first solo hip-hop artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the April 7 ceremony where he was posthumously inducted with a musical tribute from Snoop Dogg, Alicia Keys and T.I. He also starred in such films as Juice, Poetic Justice, Above the Rim, Gridlock’d and Gang Related. He was murdered in a drive by shooting in 1996.

Said McQueen: “I am extremely moved and excited to be exploring the life and times of this legendary artist. I attended NYU film school in 1993 and can remember the unfolding hip-hop world and mine overlapping with Tupac’s through a mutual friend in a small way. Few, if any shined brighter than Tupac Shakur. I look forward to working closely with his family to tell the unvarnished story of this talented man.”

Beyond the support of Shakur’s estate, the film will also have the support of Interscope Records, which release most of Shakur’s catalog, and Universal Music Publishing Group. Which means access to songs that have not lost their resonance over time.

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Beatles-Critics Choice

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