HBO Buys James Brown Documentary Directed By Alex Gibney

HBO has picked up U.S. and Canadian TV rights for Alex Gibney’s Mr. Dynamite: The Rise Of James Brown, a documentary about the early years of the musical giant to the pinnacle of his career as The Godfather of Soul. The film, produced by long-time Brown fan Mick Jagger, will debut on HBO on Oct. 27.

Alex Gibney James Brown documentaryThe documentary tracks Brown’s shift from the R&B sounds that dominated black music in the early years after WWII to the funk sound he pioneered. Brown was particularly known for his searing live performances at the Apollo Theater, on The T.A.M.I. Show (where he was the second-to-last performer, playing before Jagger’s Rolling Stones) and elsewhere. Archival footage of some of that material is part of the doc.

Gibney, a 2008 Oscar winner for his documentary Taxi To The Dark Side, worked with a wide array of historical and archival material from the Brown estate to create the project. The film also includes recent interviews with Jagger, Brown band members Maceo Parker, Bootsy Collins and Fred Wesley, and other influential musicians such as Questlove of The Roots and Chuck D of Public Enemy.

The project also tracks Brown’s significant influence on pop culture and society during the turbulent 1960s. He is famously credited with calming a restive Boston audience the night of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, even as rioting broke out in many other cities.

It’s been quite the year to spotlight the funk pioneer, with feature Get On Up debuting in August to modest reviews (and box office) for all but Chadwick Bozeman‘s electric lead performance. Jagger was also a producer on the feature. Other producers on the documentary include Jagger’s partner Victoria Pearman at Jagged Films, Peter Afterman of Inaudible Films, and Blair Foster of Gibney’s Jigsaw Productions. Gibney was executive producer.


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