BREAKING: In the first major Sundance Film Festival episodic TV deal, Starz has made a worldwide rights deal for America To Me, a dramatic series by Hoop Dreams’ Steve James that premieres tonight in the Indie Episodic Program Section. The deal is in the $5 million range for a world rights license fee. Lionsgate International will handle the series overseas. This was another late night deal, and was brokered by Endeavor Content and the Participant team.
This is new terrain for Sundance, but it is appropriate because the lines between film and television continue to blur. Cannes does it, and tonight the first of ten episodes will be shown that were fully financed by Participant Media. It was produced by Participant and Kartemquin Films. The series captures a yearlong look at one of Chicago’s most progressive and diverse public schools, located in suburban Oak Park. That premise — an intimate look at the students, teachers and administrators and the challenges facing them in Oak Park and River Forest High School, allows a prism for a larger look at America’s charged state of race, culture and education.
The docuseries premieres in the fall.
Said Starz President of Programming for Starz Carmi Zlotnik: “’America to Me’ is extremely socially relevant and timely which exemplifies our diversity strategy. Steve’s ability to bring the real and honest portrait of these students and the complex and compelling issues they face through this series is admirable.”
Said Participant’s CEO David Linde: “As Participant continues to expand its global footprint with exciting new content opportunities, we are thrilled to announce this distribution partnership with Starz bringing ‘America to Me,’ our first documentary television series, to audiences everywhere.”
Kevin Shaw (The NFL Season: A Biography, The Street Stops Here), Rebecca Parish (Radical Grace) and Bing Liu (Minding the Gap) served as story directors. John Condne served as series producer, along with producer Risé Sanders-Weir (Wrath of God), co-producer Janea Smith (Chicagoland) and associate producer Stephanie Smith.