CNN Films has acquired North American broadcast rights to the Mary Wharton-directed documentary Jimmy Carter Rock & Roll President. The film was produced by Chris Farrell and written by Bill Flanagan. The docu was originally set to open the Tribeca Film Festival in April. It has now been set as the closing film for AFI Docs on June 21.
The feature docu chronicles the role of popular music in propelling a relatively unknown candidate from Georgia to the White House, and the significant role that music has played in President Carter’s life and work. The film shows how Carter’s life-long passion for music gave him an unexpected edge as a presidential candidate, as he tapped into a force that transcended racial and generational divides, and often party lines.
From Bob Dylan to Johnny Cash to Willie Nelson, Carter developed friendships with icons and his appreciation for music helped define his administration. The docu features rare footage as well as interviews with Carter, along with Willie Nelson, Bono, Bob Dylan, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Jimmy Buffett, Roseanne Cash, Chuck Leavell, Paul Simon, Andrew Young, and Madeline Albright.
“When Chris and Mary came to Plains to show the film to me and my family, it was entertaining and emotional for all of us. The film exceeded my expectations in every way,” said Carter. “I’m thrilled that Rock & Roll President will reach a broad audience on CNN. Despite the difficult times we are in, the film highlights my personal belief that we should remain hopeful and that music is a powerful source of hope in trying times.”
Farrell and Wharton said in a joint statement:, “When we started this journey two-and-one-half years ago, our goal was to tell an interesting and surprising story about President Carter and his relationship with music, in the hopes that it would make people see him in a new light. Being able to share the film with millions of Americans through this deal with CNN Films is a significant step towards achieving that goal. The fact that we were able to screen the film for the President and receive his endorsement has been one of the most gratifying aspects of the project. We hope that CNN viewers will come away with a new appreciation for not only his moral courage and leadership, but also the fact that he is pretty cool.”
Jimmy Carter Rock & Roll President is a Not Just Peanuts production. It was financed by Thunder Moccasin Pictures. Dave Kirkpatrick served as a producer. Executive producers include Dan Braun, Peter Conlon, David Crawford, and Mary Wharton.
The deal was negotiated by Stacey Wolf, senior vice president for business affairs for CNN Worldwide on behalf of CNN Films, and by Dan Braun and Josh Braun of Submarine on behalf of the filmmakers.