FIRST MUST-SEE TV FOR OWN, NEW HOME FOR LOTS OF GREAT DOCS
BROADCAST NETS SNOOZE, LOSE
When I was just 17 (you know what I mean), a Philadelphia drag queen named Harlow let the local newspaper document the final year of her gender transformation from her previous life as Richard Finocchio. At the end of the series, Harlow emerged as a woman so magnificent, she transfixed and transformed an entire city.
Back then, Philadelphia still had a strong influence of Quakers. Sunday “blue laws” forbidding the sale of alcohol on a day reserved for prayer, was just a hint. But suddenly, there was a club owned by Harlow and lines around the block on Market St. for those who wanted to see her, celebrate her, party with her, and even be her. More clubs followed to handle the overflow.
CAN CHAZ BONO TRANSFORM OWN?
I hope the Chaz Bono story does the same for OWN. I, for one, will be glued to my chair to see what I imagine is a story of psychic pain, confusion, personal demons, family dysfunction and reconciliation. I hope it also includes a degree, any degree of triumph. I wish the same for Chaz Bono, too.
In all seriousness, I am rooting for Chaz to have a happy life and for OWN to blaze new trails in cable, a medium with a fair share of programming brilliance , but one that still is too much a wasteland for blah, blah, blah and blah.
Here is the press release for “Becoming Chaz.” I hope the documentary appears in movie theaters first, to meet the eligibility rules for the Oscars.
Chaz Bono Documentary to Have World Television Premiere on OWN: OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK
– Three Documentary Acquisitions Joining OWN Include “Becoming Chaz,” “No Woman, No Cry” and “Louder Than a Bomb” –
(Los Angeles, Ca.) OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, will air the world television premiere of the highly anticipated Chaz Bono documentary “Becoming Chaz,” it was announced today by Lisa Erspamer, chief creative officer, OWN. In addition, Christy Turlington Burns’ “No Woman No Cry” and Siskel/Jacobs Productions’ “Louder Than a Bomb” will also join OWN’s Documentary Film Club, created to spotlight cinematic documentaries that inspire and entertain. One of the first Sundance documentary acquisitions this year, “Becoming Chaz,” will premiere on OWN in May, along with “No Woman, No Cry.” “Louder Than a Bomb” will premiere later in the year.
“We are proud to present this heartfelt and honest portrayal of Chaz’s personal transformation to our viewers,” said Ms. Erspamer. “These courageous documentaries engage conversation and we are pleased to have them join OWN.”
Making its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival 2011, “Becoming Chaz” is the story of Chaz Bono’s emotional and physical transition from a woman to a man, a journey of identity and self-discovery. Growing up, Chastity was a shy person who never felt comfortable in the spotlight as the only child of Sonny & Cher. She also felt uncomfortable as a woman and struggled with living inside a body that she knew wasn’t truly hers. Deciding there was no choice but to undergo sex reassignment surgery, now legally a man, Chaz Bono documented his deeply personal transformation so that others can learn from his experience. Directed and produced by veteran Sundance filmmakers Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, who along with their production company World of Wonder, have been the creative forces behind a long history of powerful, groundbreaking and innovative documentaries and features. The film is being distributed internationally by Passion Distribution.
“Chaz is someone who has risked everything to become himself. But whatever he might have lost, he has gained far more,” said Mr. Barbato, director/producer, World of Wonder Productions. “It takes great courage and strength to go against other people’s expectations of us in order to be true to ourselves,” added Mr. Bailey, director/producer, World of Wonder Productions.
In her directorial debut, Christy Turlington Burns’ “No Woman, No Cry” is a gripping documentary that tells the personal stories of pregnant women and their caregivers in four countries as they try to avoid becoming maternal mortality statistics. Turlington puts audiences in the shoes of a young Maasai mother who has gone into labor and must walk five miles to the nearest clinic, a pregnant woman in the slums of Dhaka, Bangladesh too ashamed to seek care, and a pregnant obstetrician helping women who have no choice but to undergo illegal and dangerous abortions in Guatemala, and a midwife in central Florida who serves pregnant women who are denied prenatal care because they are uninsured. This film is from Turly Pictures.
“‘No Woman, No Cry’ captures the fragility of motherhood and illuminates the vulnerabilities of women at this critical juncture in their lives,” said Ms. Turlington Burns. “We believe that OWN is the ideal network to air our film.”
“Louder Than a Bomb” tells the story of four Chicago high school poetry teams as they prepare for and compete in the world’s largest youth slam poetry contest. The film captures the turbulent lives of these unforgettable teenagers; exploring how writing and performing shapes their world. This film is from Greg Jacobs and Jon Siskel, Siskel/Jacobs Productions.
“We are thrilled and honored that “Louder Than a Bomb” has been chosen for the OWN Documentary Club. OWN’s respect for stories that are at once entertaining and inspiring makes the Documentary Club the perfect home for our film,” said Greg Jacobs and Jon Siskel, co-director/producers, “Louder Than a Bomb.”
These join the slate of previously announced original and acquired documentaries that comprise the OWN Documentary Film Club. Original documentaries include Extraordinary Moms, One Last Shot, Seven Suicides and Tent City, USA. Acquired documentaries include 65 Red Roses, Family Affair, Life 2.0, Most Valuable Players, One Lucky Elephant and Sons of Perdition.
About OWN: OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK
A joint venture between Harpo, Inc. and Discovery Communications, OWN: OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK is a multi-platform media company designed to entertain, inform, and inspire people to live their best lives. OWN debuted on January 1, 2011, in approximately 85 million homes on what was the Discovery Health Channel. The venture also includes the award-winning digital platform, Oprah.com. For more information, please visit http://www.oprah.com/own and http://www.press.discovery.com/us/own.