HBO Documentary Development Slate: Scientology; Cobain & More

Doc_HeaderThis writer was trying to hold out for a press release regarding the line-up of documentaries forthcoming through the winter before announcing any such news. We have yet to receive any such notice. However, some news as of late has dropped about some big documentary films ahead in 2015 that we were eager to share. We will address any further news on the documentary front, but for now here is what is shaping up.


  • HBO Announces A Comprehensive Scientology Documentary

John Travolta, Tom Cruise, Kirstie Allen, Greta Van Susteren, Nancy Cartwright, Jenna Elfman, Juliette Lewis, Beck, Anne Archer, Catherine Bell, Danny Masterson, Bijou Phillips, Jason Lee and Doug E. Fresh may all know about their faith, but the rest of us are pretty damn clueless. That will change in 2015 as HBO takes on the heady topic of Scientology.   

Oscar winninGoing-Clear-194x300g documentarian Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side, HBO’s MEA MAXIMA CULPA: SILENCE IN THE HOUSE OF GOD) is working on the film now based off of Lawrence Wright’s controversial book “Going Clear.” In the review Amazon uses to advertise the book:

Wright begins with the biography of founder L. Ron Hubbard: his days as a prodigiously prolific writer of pulp fiction, his odd military career, the publication of his breakthrough self-help book “Dianetics” (1950), and the influence, riches, and controversy that have followed since he founded the Church of Scientology in 1954. Wright paints a picture of organizational chaos and a leader, David Miscavige, who rules by violence and intimidation; “Going Clear” offers a fascinating look behind the curtain of an organization whose ambition and influence are often at odds with its secretive ways.

Now this film, based on the allegations made in the book, will blow those secrets into the light and HBO is preparing for a backlash. Sheila, Nevins, president of HBO Documentary Films, is noted for stating – “We have probably 160 lawyers looking at the film.”  It sounds like Gibney and HBO are making this one no matter what and we are eager for it.

The Hollywood Reporter goes into more detail on HBO’s relationship with the film maker and with the Church of Scientology. It is an interesting article. Check it out.


  • HBO to Air Kurt Cobain Documentary

Another documentary of interest to us is a Kurt Cobai (pictured) n biography. This one is being crafted by Brett Morgen a film maker whose work we have seen on HBO via a look at The Rolling Stones in CROSSFIRE HURRICANE and THE KID STAYS IN THE PICTURE about Hollywood icon Robert Evans. Mr. Morgen can clearly get inside the celebrity circles to get what story he needs and he does so again when the examination of musical icon Kurt Cobain comes to HBO sometime in 2015. Of the work, titled KURT COBAIN: MONTAGE OF HECK, the writer/director/producer had this to say in a press release from HBO  –  People_KurtCobain-300x225

 “I started work on this project eight years ago. Like most people, when I started, I figured there would be limited amounts of fresh material to unearth. However, once I stepped into Kurt Cobain’s archive, I discovered over 200 hours of unreleased music and audio, a vast array of art projects (oil paintings, sculptures), countless hours of never-before-seen home movies, and over 4000 pages of writings that together help paint an intimate portrait of an artist who rarely revealed himself to the media. I could not be happier with our partners at HBO and Universal. We look forward to sharing this film with audiences around the world.”


What he will let viewers into is an intimate look into the impact the lead singer of Nirvana, “the flagship band of Generation X,” held and still holds on the musical scene. This first documentary to be made with the cooperation of Kurt Cobain’s family, (Cobain’s daughter Frances Bean Cobain serves as executive producer)  the film is a raw and visceral journey through Cobain’s life and provides no-holds-barred access to Kurt Cobain’s archives, home to his never-before-seen home movies, recordings, artwork, photography, journals, demos, personal archives, family archives and songbooks. The film features dozens of Nirvana songs and performances as well as previously unheard Cobain originals.


  • HBO Offers Limited Documentary Series JINXED  


The More in out title reflects a groundbreaking six-part Documentary Series entitled THE JINX: THE LIFE AND DEATHS OF ROBERT DURST coming to the network. Via an HBO press release we get the following information:

HBO will present THE JINX: THE LIFE AND DEATHS OF ROBERT DURST, one of the most anticipated television events of 2015, it was announced by Michael Lombardo, president, HBO Programming. Directed and produced by Andrew Jarecki and produced and shot by Marc Smerling (the Oscar nominees behind “Capturing the Friedmans”), the six-part documentary series exposes long-buried information discovered during their seven-year investigation of a series of unsolved crimes, and the man suspected of being at its center – Robert Durst, scion of New York’s billionaire Durst family – and was made with his full cooperation.

Brilliant, reclusive and the subject of relentless media scrutiny, Durst has never spoken publicly – until now. During exclusive interviews with Jarecki, he talks with startling  candor, revealing secrets of a case that has baffled authorities for 30 years. Long suspected in the 1982 disappearance of his beautiful young wife in New York, the 2000 murder of the key witness in the case in Beverly Hills, and the subsequent murder and dismemberment of a neighbor in Galveston, Tex., Durst has consistently maintained his innocence, and remains a free man today.

This unprecedented documentary event tracks Jarecki as he develops a relationship with Durst, unearthing thousands of pages of hidden documents, police files, key witnesses, never-before-seen footage and private prison recordings. THE JINX will debut exclusively on HBO in Feb. 2015.

Mr. Jarecki states –

 “What occurs in this series is so unique, there is no home for it other than HBO. Over the seven years in which we pursued the story through all its unexpected revelations, uncovering the truth became an obsession. Now the audience can watch it unfold in front of them as it did for us.”

You can be damn sure HBOWatch will be there for every installment coming in a couple of months to HBO.Plus, now you know why we couldn’t wait any longer for additional documentary news; these stories on the non-fiction front are pretty big!


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