CNN Films and HBO Max have commissioned a new documentary about Little Richard, from Emmy-winning director Lisa Cortés (All In: The Fight for Democracy) of Cortés Filmworks. The film, Little Richard: I Am Everything (w/t), will take a deep dive into the life and career of the iconic musician, who did what he felt, and felt what he did—”at all costs”—presenting never-seen-before archival footage, as well as interviews with loved ones, colleagues, contemporary musicians and historians.
Richard Penniman, also known as Little Richard, lived a life as large as his dreams, breaking barriers and becoming a global music superstar. He was a key architect of rock and roll, with his unique sound, performance and bravado launching the fresh and exciting new genre. The creative genius behind tunes ranging from “Tutti Frutti” and “Long Tall Sally” to “The Magic School Bus Theme” also personified the fearless independence that rock inspired, despite the new music’s ascendance during an era of brutal prejudice and racism. Bungalow Media + Entertainment is producing the doc, in association with Rolling Stone. Caryn Capotosto is also serving as producer. Oscar-nominated filmmaker Dee Rees (Mudbound) is exec producing alongside Robert Friedman for Bungalow, as well as Liz Yale Marsh and Mike Powers, Gus Wenner and Jason Fine for Rolling Stone, CNN Films’ Courtney Sexton and Amy Entelis, and HBO Max. Production on the doc is currently underway, with development on it having launched back in 2020, as we told you first. The film is expected to be completed this fall, and will premiere for broadcast on CNN. HBO Max holds domestic and international SVOD streaming rights.
“I am delighted to give Little Richard the royal treatment he so deserves,” said Cortés. “This magnificent rock n’ roll icon changed the world for all of us – Black and white, straight and gay, everyday people and stars. His story is the history of rock n’ roll: musical genius mixed with the sheer audacity to morph and change at will, seeking permission from no one.
“The film is called I Am Everything because that was Little Richard’s triumph,” added the filmmaker, “transcending all categories and expectations to be everything he dreamed.”
“Little Richard’s career is one of the most fascinating and important stories in music and pop culture history,” said Friedman, who heads up Bungalow Media + Entertainment as CEO. “The film will unspool Richard’s incalculable influence on music history, at long last giving him his rightful place on the rock and roll throne.”
Said CNN Films SVP, Sexton: “We are also delighted to partner with Rolling Stone and HBO Max to present the rich, full history of Little Richard. This film will finally, fully showcase the enduring influence of his gifts.”
Added EVP, Talent and Content Development, Entelis: “Little Richard’s genius has been obscured and underappreciated for too long. We’re excited to celebrate his massively consequential contributions to music and culture through the lens of director Lisa Cortés.”
SVP of Business Affairs Stacey Wolf and Assistant General Counsel Kelly MacLanahan negotiated the commission deal for the Little Richard doc for CNN Worldwide, on behalf of CNN Films. ICM brokered the deal on behalf of the filmmakers.