CMT has launched a news and documentary division and is teaming with a few award-winning producers for its first slate of six projects, the Viacom-owned cable network announced Wednesday.
“We’re fulfilling our promise to create a CMT news and docs division with a slate of bold and compelling stories that reflect big personalities and monumental events that helped define America, our music and our spirit,” saidJayson Dinsmore, CMT exec vp programming and development. “We’ve partnered with some of the most respected and visionary filmmakers working today, all charged with producing unique documentaries through an authentic and distinctive lens.”
The news arrives as CMT has posted four consecutive year-over-year ratings increases, with 22 percent total day growth and a 31 percent uptick in primetime. Its recently concluded first quarter was its highest primetime ratings period since 2009, ranking the cabler as one of the fastest-growing networks on cable.
Here’s a look at the documentary slate as well as CMT’s summer and fall lineups:
URBAN LEGEND: WHEN A NATION WENT COUNTRY
From the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning producers and directors of the ESPN “30 for 30” film “Pony Excess,” which debuted as the highest-rated documentary in network history, and the Emmy-nominated “The Marinovich Project,” comes URBAN LEGEND: WHEN A NATION WENT COUNTRY. The feature-length documentary delves into the phenomenon sparked by the 1980 film “Urban Cowboy” – when country music found itself in vogue nationally for the first time in history. At the center of the new country movement was Gilley’s, the largest bar in the world located in the oilfields just outside Houston. The documentary tells the boom and bust story of this Texas-sized phenomenon and the honky-tonk that inspired it – the true story about the moment when a nation finally went country. URBAN LEGEND: WHEN A NATION WENT COUNTRY is produced by Ten100 Productions and directed by John Dorsey and Andrew Stephan.
Executive producer Ridley Scott and the producers behind the critically acclaimed and award-winning television events “Gettysburg,” “Killing Lincoln” and “Killing Kennedy” present an epic new documentary miniseries celebrating the unsung hero of our country: the American farmer. This groundbreaking four-hour miniseries highlights the captivating true stories of farming families with agricultural roots that trace back for generations. Featuring innovative storytelling and sweeping cinematic visuals, PROMISELAND reveals how these hard-working men and women form the backbone of our nation. PROMISELAND is executive produced by Ridley Scott, David Zucker and Mary Lisio of Scott Free Productions.
THEY CALLED US OUTLAWS: COSMIC COWBOYS, HONKY TONK HEROES AND THE RISE OF REDNECK ROCK
Presented by the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, this eight-hour documentary event comes from the award-winning and critically acclaimed filmmaker Eric Geadelmann (“Dave” and “The Dance”), best-selling biographer Joe Nick Patoski (“Willie Nelson – An Epic Life”) and Emmy, Golden Globe and Academy Award-winning producer Mark Johnson (“Breaking Bad,” “Rain Man,” respectively.) What happened in Nashville and in Austin in the late 1960s and early 1970s was nothing less than a tectonic shift in country music. From Tennessee to Texas, musicians were breaking all the rules, pushing aside long-established traditions and doing things their own way. THEY CALLED US OUTLAWS tells this story in four feature-length documentary films. It is an in-depth never-before-seen look at the pickers, the players, and the writers who altered the course of country music forever. THEY CALLED US OUTLAWS is “Willie, Waylon & the Boys,” and a few irreverent girls, at the height of their rule-breaking days; featuring over 20 American music icons including Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Bobby Bare, Jerry Jeff Walker, Guy Clark, Billy Joe Shaver, Joe Ely, Ray Benson & Asleep at the Wheel, Rodney Crowell, The Flatlanders, Jessi Colter, Marcia Ball and Emmylou Harris. THEY CALLED US OUTLAWS is produced by Crowfly Pictures Entertainment and Filament Productions and was written, directed and produced by Eric Geadelmann, Kelly Magelsky and Ken Levitan, and executive produced by Mark Johnson, Joe Nick Patoski, Cal Turner, Margaret Turner, Craig Eiland, Randy Paul, Ray Benson & Mickey Raphael.
From Academy Award and Emmy-nominated filmmaker/executive producer Morgan Spurlock comes FREEDOM: THE DOCUMENTARY. This epic 90-minute film takes an in-depth look at the idea of independence and whether we’re all still truly liberated in today’s America. Equal parts comedic and irreverent, we will traverse the country, meeting the outlaws, the outlandish and the outspoken freedom fighters who are fighting the good fight every step of the way. We’ll explore all sides of the issue, on an unheralded quest to understand the full scope of the freedoms afforded to us across this great nation. FREEDOM: THE DOCUMENTARY will finally ask and answer the ultimate question: “What does it mean to be ‘free’ in America?” FREEDOM: THE DOCUMENTARY is executive produced by Morgan Spurlock, Jeremy Chilnick and Ethan Goldman of Warrior Poets.