Fremantle has acquired international distribution rights to Oscar Peterson: Black and White, the feature-length documentary about the iconic jazz pianist being directed by Barry Avrich. The deal is for overseas rights excluding Canada on the film, which is in production. A fall 2021 release is planned.
The doc will center on the life and music of the prolific jazz pioneer, whose blazing-fast hands on the piano were put to use via collaborations with the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong and Nat King Cole. It also will dive into the racism that Peterson was forced to endure throughout his career, and his commitment to mentoring younger players.
Peterson, who died in 2007 at 82, won seven Grammys and was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Recording Academy in 1997 to honor his six-decade career.
The film hails from Avrich’s Melbar Entertainment Group, which is producing with Canada’s Bell Media. Along with Avrich, Mark Selby is producer and Jeffrey Latimer and Randy Lennox are executive producers.
“It is a privilege and career highlight for me to tell Oscar’s inspiring story and further immortalize his relentless yet iconic music in this film,” said Avrich, like Peterson born in Montreal. The producer-director’s past doc helming credits include Unauthorized: The Harvey Weinstein Project and The Last Mogul: The Life and Times of Lew Wasserman.
Said Harry Gamsu, VP Non-Scripted Content Acquisitions at Fremantle: “Following the international success of art fraud documentary Made You Look, we are excited to be partnering once more with the team at Melbar Entertainment Group on Oscar Peterson: Black and White. Peterson was one of jazz’s greatest stars and we are excited to be bringing his talent and life story to a global audience.”
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