Docs That Rock

Are Celeb Docs the Antidote to Gossip?

Kind of an odd “is it a trend”/”is it an observation” piece in today’s Grey Lady, which takes note of a recent wave of celeb themed docs. Per the piece, nearly a dozen docs about famous people such as Billy Joel, Rush, The Doors (and non-music stars like Halston, Vidal Sassoon, Joan Rivers, and Hugh Hefner) are being released. Um, this sounds like every year in the doc marketplace…
Beyond the spate of releases, the piece suggests that these are the new tell-alls, whereas the stars don’t get editorial control but the films are nevertheless “image-boosting movies” and “visual editorial for the Internet era.” That’s because, argues the author, “Twitter, Facebook and TMZ have made it difficult for celebrities to manipulate their public persona. A sympathetic documentary can be the first step in rehabbing a damaged reputation.”
I’m not sure every film on this list fits this bill, especially the music ones. The forthcoming Billy Joel doc, Last Play at Shea (which premiered at Tribeca) dealt mostly with the icon playing the last concert at Shea Stadium. (The trailer is not online; posted is a clip of a fan’s video of Joel and Paul McCartney.) The Doors film had no damaged reptuation to protect. In the piece, here is a decent representation of the traditional tension between subject and filmmaker, but it’s hard to generalize that a documentary can’t be damaging to a subject. Or that it represents a strategy by celebs to somehow get portrayed in a favorable light – there are many other ways to do that.
It does reveal that the Last Play producers got Joel to help pony up $4 million for the project, which seems a bit high for a doc in today’s marketplace. Joel admits, “I don’t want to be in the movie business.” Another one for love the film, hate the business.

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June 24, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , ,

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