- Higher Ground, former president and first lady Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company, announced the first slate of content in its partnership with Netflix on Tuesday.
- The Obamas signed a multiyear deal with Netflix last year that was met with conservative backlash.
- The content includes the documentary “American Factory” that Netflix acquired from this year’s Sundance Film Festival and “Fifth Risk,” based on author Michael Lewis’ “Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy.”
Former president and first lady Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground, announced on Tuesday its first wave of content for Netflix that includes docuseries and feature films.
Some of the projects include a non-fiction series adaptation of “Moneyball” author Michael Lewis’ “Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy,” called “Fifth Risk”; a film adaptation of Pulitzer Prize winner David W. Blight’s “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom”; and “American Factory,” a documentary Netflix acquired at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
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Higher Ground said the projects are in various stages of development and will be released over the next several years.
The Obamas struck a multiyear deal with Netflix in May last year to produce original shows and movies. CNN reported that it was a “high eight-figure deal.”
“Barack and Michelle Obama are among the world’s most respected and highly recognized public figures and are uniquely positioned to discover and highlight stories of people who make a difference in their communities and strive to change the world for the better,” Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s content chief, said at the time.
The deal was quickly met with conservative backlash from those who threatened to cancel their Netflix subscriptions. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has also been critical of President Trump in the past, and supported Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election.
Below are the seven projects the Obamas are producing, with details provided by Netflix:
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Netflix description: AMERICAN FACTORY was acquired by Netflix in association with Higher Ground Productions out of the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Directing Award: U.S. Documentary. From Participant Media, the film is directed by Academy Award®-nominated and Emmy Award®-winners Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert (“The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant,” “A Lion in the House,” “Seeing Red”). The acclaimed film takes a deep dive into a post-industrial Ohio, where a Chinese billionaire opens a new factory in the husk of an abandoned General Motors plant and hires two thousand blue-collar Americans. Early days of hope and optimism give way to setbacks as high-tech China clashes with working-class America. The producers are Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert, Jeff Reichert, and Julie Parker Benello.
Netflix description: BLOOM is an upstairs/downstairs drama series set in the world of fashion in post-WWII New York City that depicts barriers faced by women and by people of color in an era marked by hurdles but also tremendous progress. BLOOM is written and executive produced by Academy Award-winner® Callie Khouri (“Nashville,” “Thelma and Louise,” the upcoming Aretha Franklin movie at MGM), from an idea developed by Khouri, writer-director Clement Virgo (“The Book Of Negroes,” “The Wire,” “Empire”) and novelist and producer Juliana Maio (“City of the Sun”). Higher Ground Productions, Khouri, Virgo and Maio will executive produce the series.
“Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom” adaptation
Netflix description: Higher Ground is producing a feature film adaptation of author David W. Blight’s Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, for which he won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in History. The New York Times called the book “an ambitious and empathetic biography of a major American life.”
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