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).