Alcon Television Group, the television division of Alcon Entertainment, and Frank Sinatra Enterprises are teaming to produce an as yet untitled documentary about the life and music of Frank Sinatra to premiere on HBO. Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney will direct the four-hour mini-series docu described as an up close and personal examination of Sinatra, his life, his music and his legendary career. Never before seen footage, including industry and home movies, as well as private and professional performances, will be featured. Frank Marshall, Nancy Sinatra, Charles Pignone, Alcon Television President Sharon Hall, and co-CEO’s Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove are executive producers. Kennedy-Marshall Company and Jigsaw Productions also are partnering on the project.
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
The scope of the devastation wrought by abusive members of the clergy took center stage at TCA this afternoon during a panel on the HBO documentary Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence In The House Of God, which premieres on the network February 4. The doc from writer-director Alex Gibney examines the abuse of power in the Catholic Church through the stories of four deaf men who were involved in one of the first cases of young sexual abuse victims exposing their abusing priest. One of those interviewed in the piece, a former Benedictine monk and mental health counselor named Richard Sipe, has spent most of his life researching and serving as a crusader in the field. Now 80, he discussed how his piercing the denial of abuse in the United States was initially wildly unpopular. The first indicators were studies conducted of the 1966 and 1972 graduating classes of the major seminary of the Los Angeles Archdiocese. “Thirty percent of the two classes (had engaged) in the sexual abuse of minors in the Catholic Church”, Sipe said. “It was just so unique to find this among a group of men whom we say are entirely sexually safe, who do not practice sex in any form at any time. And that is the myth that I have had to be faced with in my life”.
Alex Gibney won an Oscar for his 2007 documentary Taxi To The Dark Side about U.S. policy on torture and interrogation. He was also nominated for 2005’s Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room. His latest film, Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence In The House Of God, taps into a subject that has, in various forms, increasingly made headlines this year. As allegations of the sexual abuse of minors by trusted figures have continued to surface — think the Penn State scandal and the ongoing crisis over BBC kids’ show host Jimmy Savile — Gibney’s film is a damning investigation into pedophilia in the Catholic Church. Shining a light on what it calls “an international conspiracy of silence” that reaches all the way to the Vatican, the documentary “teaches us that we must recognize that the worst predators often consciously use their own personal charisma and the prestige of their institutions to commit and cover up their crimes,” Gibney says.
At the outset, the story is told from the point of view of four deaf men who attended a Milwaukee Catholic boys school in the 1950s and ’60s where Father Lawrence Murphy abused them as well as what is believed to be over 200 others over time. Interweaving the boys’ saga, which the now-adult men recount in sign language voiced over by actors Chris Cooper, Ethan Hawke, Jamey Sheridan and John Slattery, the story travels to two of the world’s most Catholic countries: Ireland and Italy. There, stories of similar sex abuse cases are revealed as well as the actions of members and friends of the Holy See. Mea Maxima Culpa debuted in Toronto and won the documentary feature prize at the recent London Film Festival. It was released in NY and LA on Friday for its Oscar-qualifying run and will air on HBO on February 4. It was also, surprisingly given the subject matter, picked up for distribution in both Ireland (Element Pictures) and Italy (Feltrinelli), although it was refused by recent Italian festivals. I recently had the chance to catch up with Gibney and our conversation follows:
London, June 6, 2012 – Global entertainment company Content Media Corporation (“Content”) announced today a far-reaching deal with New York-based production company Jigsaw Productions, further adding to the company’s growing investment portfolio. The agreement will see Content investing in Jigsaw and working closely with founder Alex Gibney to build a diversified production company operating across film and television.
Content will invest in Jigsaw for a 50% stake, and Jigsaw will add additional staff, expand development and increase its production output. Content’s film, television and digital divisions will act as international distributor for Jigsaw’s programs when appropriate.