Oscar nominated director Lee Daniels (LEE DANIELS’ THE BUTLER, PRECIOUS and creator and producer of the Fox hit series EMPIRE) will direct a new feature-length documentary focusing on the Apollo Theater. The film will cover the authorized history of New York’s famed Apollo Theater, the confirmation was made by White Horse Pictures’ Nigel Sinclair and Jeanne Elfant Festa.
Lee Daniels and Jonelle Procope, President and CEO the Apollo Theater, are jointly making an appeal to members of the public, audience-goers, and fans for film footage, home movies, photographs or other memorabilia that may have been accumulated by members of the community in the course of its more than 80 years of live performances.
Said Daniels and Procope, “We are asking members of the community who have been to the Apollo, who may have parents or grandparents or other family members or friends who have done so, to help us find any material – audience footage, photographs, or other memories that we can use in our documentary film. We have established a website (apollotheaterdocumentary.com) for anyone who wants to submit. We will, of course, respect everybody’s ownership of their property.”
The project is produced by Nigel Sinclair (GEORGE HARRISON: LIVING IN THE MATERIAL WORLD, END OF WATCH) and Jeanne Elfant Festa (FOO FIGHTERS: BACK AND FORTH), White Horse Pictures’ Director of Features and Head of Documentaries, under her Piper Cub Productions banner. STUDIOCANAL is handling international distribution. Impact’s Dan Cogan and Geralyn Dreyfous (THE HUNTING GROUND, THE COVE, DETROPIA), and STUDIOCANAL’s Chairman and CEO Didier Lupfer and EVP of International Production and Acquisitions Ron Halpern (CAROL, 99 HOMES, LEGEND) are serving as executive producers. The project will be presented by the Apollo Theater and Bert Marcus Productions.
Also executive producing the film are White Horse Pictures’ Head of Production Nicholas Ferrall, Matt Jackson (END OF WATCH), CMP co-founders Steve Cohen and Paula Froehle, along with Ken Pelletier, Dave Knott and Jonelle Procope.
With a roster of artists who have performed at the Apollo Theater, Universal Music Group will
curate the music for the documentary.
The project is being co-written by Cassidy Hartmann of White Horse Pictures, Mark Monroe (THE COVE, CHASING ICE), and Shola Lynch (FREE ANGELA AND ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS). Karen Sim (BACK ON BOARD: GREG LOUGANIS, WATCHERS OF THE SKY) will edit the documentary.
Said Daniels, “I am honored to be entrusted with the story of this incredible American iconic institution and work with this team. I used to go to The Apollo Theater as a kid and never in a million years would I have imagined I would be back to be doing this – it is very special for me.”
“We are all honored to be entrusted with this triumphant American story, and so fortunate that Lee Daniels has committed to lead the team. The Apollo has exerted such unprecedented influence and power on American culture, from its beginnings in 1934 to its towering presence in the 21st century. It is a story that will amaze,” said Nigel Sinclair.
“As a New Yorker, I have always been in awe of the Apollo Theater. To see a show there is to participate in a glorious, righteous and magical history, and carry it forward into the present. Impact Partners is thrilled to be partnering with Lee Daniels, who is such an extraordinary artist, and Nigel Sinclair, one of the great producers of documentaries working today,” said Dan Cogan.
“The Apollo’s place in world culture in this century is part of both the American journey, and the journey for all music and culture. Lee Daniels’ stature all around the world speaks for itself, and we at StudioCanal are honored to bring to the marketplace Lee telling this tale,” said Ron Halpern.
“We are so proud to be collaborating with Lee Daniels and the entire production team on this documentary that will further illuminate the Apollo’s legacy and impact,” said Jonelle Procope. “As we continue our work with artists and audiences here in Harlem and around the globe today, we are always looking to our shared legacy as a source for inspiration.”
The film will tell the story of the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York. One of the most famous theaters in the world and a driving force in shaping America’s music and cultural landscape, the Apollo’s impact on the local Harlem community and the legendary musicians who performed at the historic venue is immeasurable. Its significance as a symbol of all that is great in Harlem, New York, and American culture has transcended its origin as a place of culture and entertainment. The Apollo today is recognized as an influential center for culture and performing arts with programming across music, comedy, dance, theater and opera. The Apollo continues to build on its legacy by nurturing emerging voices and presenting ground-breaking artists across genres, both nationally and internationally.
Oscar-nominated Lee Daniels directed the worldwide box office hit, LEE DANIELS’ THE BUTLER, starring Forrest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey and Terrence Howard. Daniels produced and directed the Fox television production EMPIRE, and is currently in production on his new untitled music project for Fox television. Daniels also directed and produced the critically acclaimed PRECIOUS, which was nominated for six Academy Awards, including nominations for Daniels in the category of “Achievement in Directing” and “Best Motion Picture of the Year,” and wins in the categories of “Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role” and “Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay.”