Mary Wharton's doc "chronicles the role of popular music in propelling a relatively unknown candidate from Georgia to the White House"
CNN will be the broadcast home of Mary Wharton's documentary Jimmy Carter Rock & Roll President.
The network's CNN Films division announced today is has acquired North American broadcast rights to the film, which documents how Jimmy Carter gained "an unexpected edge" in his presidential campaign in 1976 by enlisting the support of prominent recording artists. Among those who turned out to help the Georgia peanut farmer were Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, and the Allman Brothers.
"Jimmy Carter Rock & Roll President chronicles the role of popular music in propelling a relatively unknown candidate from Georgia to the White House, and the significant role that music has played in President Carter’s life and work," CNN said in a statement. "Carter’s appreciation for all genres of music and friendships with the likes of Bob Dylan, Gregg Allman, Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, and Willie Nelson helped to define his administration."
The documentary, produced by Chris Farrell and written by Bill Flanagan, was supposed to kick off the Tribeca Film Festival in April, but that was scuttled when the coronavirus pandemic prompted Tribeca's indefinite postponement. Jimmy Carter Rock & Roll President will be the closing film of the AFI Docs festival on June 21.
Former President Carter, for one, has already seen it.
"When Chris and Mary came to Plains [Georgia] to show the film to me and my family, it was entertaining and emotional for all of us," Carter said in the statement released by CNN. "The film exceeded my expectations in every way. I’m thrilled that 'Rock & Roll President' will reach a broad audience on CNN. Despite the difficult times we are in, the film highlights my personal belief that we should remain hopeful and that music is a powerful source of hope in trying times.”
"The fact that we were able to screen the film for the President and receive his endorsement has been one of the most gratifying aspects of the project," Wharton and Farrell said in a statement. "We hope that CNN viewers will come away with a new appreciation for not only his moral courage and leadership, but also the fact that he is pretty cool.”
According to CNN, the documentary "combines intimate interviews with Carter and an eclectic cast of contributors" including Dylan and Nelson, Paul Simon, U2's Bono, Garth Brooks, Jimmy Buffett, Roseanne Cash, as well as Andrew Young, who served as US Ambassador to the United Nations during the Carter administration, and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
“We are thrilled to bring this important and incredibly entertaining film to our audience," stated Courtney Sexton, who runs CNN Films. The network did not reveal a broadcast premiere date for the documentary.
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.