LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) – Janet Jackson’s life story will get the documentary treatment next year from Lifetime and A&E to celebrate the 40th anniversary of her first album.
At its virtual upfront today, the A+E Networks group highlighted its upcoming programming slate and announced that Lifetime and A&E have ordered a two-night, four-hour documentary event with the working titled “JANET.” Jackson’s first album, titled “Janet Jackson,” was released in 1982 when she was 16.
The documentary, co-produced by Workerbee and Associated Entertainment Corporation, promises to offer unprecedented access to the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer’s life, and an intimate, honest and unfiltered look at the untold story of one of the highest-earning artists in music history.
Filming on “JANET” has been under way for three years. The doc follows Janet as her family is going through the loss of her father, Joseph, the patriarch of the Jackson dynasty who passed in 2018. Producers were granted exclusive access to archival footage and never-before-seen home videos while developing the documentary for the past three years. “JANET” will also detail the most talked-about moments of her life, including her 2004 Super Bowl appearance with Justin Timberlake in which she inadvertently exposed a portion of her breast, sparking controversy that would hover for more than a decade. The docu will also explore Jackson’s reaction to the death of her brother, the legendary and also controversial Michael Jackson, and her process of becoming a mother.
“JANET” is targeted for debut in early 2022 on Lifetime and A&E. The docu is executive produced by Janet Jackson and Randy Jackson. Executive producer for Workerbee is Rick Murray and Brie Miranda Bryant serves as executive producer for A+E Networks. Ben Hirsch is directing.
The documentary is part of more than 2,500 hours of new programming announced at the A+E Networks upfront, which includes 70 hours of documentaries and more than 200 movies across its portfolio of top brands (A&E, History and Lifetime). Many of those projects, including the Janet Jackson premium doc event, fall under Lifetime’s “Broader Focus” initiative, which exemplifies the company’s commitment to hiring and amplifying female creators with pay above the industry average and A+E Networks’ “Voices Magnified,” which champions the creation of content developed and produced by diverse voices that spotlights the way people are changing their communities in the name of social justice.
“The last year has taught all of us much about the world and our place within it, as individuals and as content creators,” said A+E Networks group president Paul Buccieri, speaking on the initiative. “Across our entire portfolio we’re reinforcing our strong foundation and will continue using our platforms to elevate relevant, resonant and diverse voices; telling their stories, focused on reaching the widest possible audience. As an organization, we have become even more dedicated to corporate social responsibility, proactively and positively activating our resources to impact communities everywhere. Given its importance, it is front-and-center within our presentation.”
Another entertainment and music legend is also joining the Lifetime family. Country Music Hall of Famer Reba McEntire has just inked a two-picture deal with Lifetime to star in and produce two movies for the network. The first project will be a holiday film with the working title “Christmas in Tune,” which will be featured as the tentpole flick for the network’s holiday slate “It’s a Wonderful Lifetime.” Per the logline, the movie tells the story of Belle, a marketing executive who decides to reunite a singing duo for a charity Christmas concert– her parents, who have not spoken to each other in years.
“Christmas in Tune” is written by Juliet Giglio and Keith Giglio and produced by Hartbreak Films, with Paula Hart and Reba McEntire serving as executive producers. The second McEntire-helmed film, which will not be a holiday movie, is in development for 2022.
Additional upcoming and current projects will showcase an exciting roster of talent, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Laurence Fishburne, Robin Roberts, Jamie Lee Curtis, Angela Basset, Tim Allen, Morgan Freeman, Russell Westbrook, Stanley Nelson, Rachael Ray, Lance Reddick, William Shatner and presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.
Other unscripted multi-part series in the works at A+E Networks include:
“Right to Offend: The Black Comedy Revolution” (A&E): Examines the legacy of black comedians challenging social conventions with humor “Secret Origins of Hip Hop” (A&E): Tells the story of pioneers including Busta Rhymes, Eve, Fat Joe, Grandmaster Flash and Ice-T. “Fight the Power: The Protests That Changed America” (History), executive produced by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Deborah Morales