Imagine Documentaries and CNN Films to back biographical film on late culinary TV star
When I spoke with RBG directors Betsy West and Julie Cohen a few weeks ago, shortly after they won the Emmy for Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking for their film about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I asked them what they intended to do as a follow up.
"Julie and I are together working on a couple more projects which I can tell your are both about stories of women," West replied. "We're very excited to be launching into the new film."
That new film, it was revealed today, will focus on Julia Child, the bestselling cookbook author and culinary TV pioneer (the other future project West mentioned to me remains a secret).
Nothing gets us more pumped than telling stories of women who accomplished things people said they could never do.
CNN Films, which produced RBG, will bring the film to the screen in partnership with Imagine Documentaries, a division of the entertainment company run by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard.
West and Cohen might have titled the upcoming film Julie and Julia, in light of Cohen's first name. But as that title was already taken (for the 2009 book and subsequent movie starring Meryl Streep), they are going - at least for now - simply with Julia.
"The documentary feature, Julia (working title), will tell the story of the groundbreaking cookbook author and television superstar who forever changed the way Americans think about food, about television, and even about women," CNN Films and Imagine Documentaries said in a press release. "Using a treasure trove of never-before-seen archival video, personal still photos, first-person narratives, and cutting-edge, mouth-watering food cinematography, the documentary will trace Julia Child’s surprising path, from her struggles to create and publish the revolutionary ‘instant’ classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1961, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group), to her empowering personal story of a woman in her 50s, finding her calling as an unlikely television sensation."
The release notes, "Julia (w.t.) is being produced with the full cooperation of Julia Child’s friends, family, and the Julia Child Foundation."
"This is the first feature-length documentary solely devoted to Julia Child, and will illuminate her casual upheaval of the male-dominated culinary and television worlds," CNN Films and Imagine Documentaries added. "Almost single-handedly, Julia Child upended the mythology that women could not hold their own at the highest levels of creative gastronomy, and that the only women Americans wanted to see on TV were young, submissive, and conventionally beautiful."
“Julia was first,” West said in a statement. “Without her, there would have been no Emeril Lagasse or Rachael Ray or countless other celebrity chefs. We are thrilled to partner with Imagine Documentaries, and to collaborate again with CNN Films to bring the story of this bold and singular woman to the big screen in all its delicious glory.”
Cohen commented, “Nothing gets us more pumped than telling stories of women who accomplished things people said they could never do. Julia’s story has inspiration, romance, and plenty of spice.”
West and Cohen will both produce and direct the film. Imagine Documentaries' Justin Wilkes and Sara Bernstein will also produce. Among the film's executive producers are Grazer and Howard, chairmen of Imagine Entertainment, Imagine co-chairman Michael Rosenberg, as well as Amy Entelis, executive vice president for talent and content development for CNN Worldwide and Courtney Sexton, senior vice president of CNN Films, and Oren Jacoby of Storyville Films.
No target release date for Julia was revealed.
Cohen hinted about the film announcement in a tweet posted on Friday from Paris, where Child did her culinary training.
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.