Eleven months after striking a deal with Netflix, the Obamas have a slate of programming.
Barack and Michelle Obama’s new production company, Higher Ground Productions, announced on Tuesday seven projects that are in the works for Netflix, including several documentaries and a movie about Frederick Douglass.
The former president and first lady struck a multiyear production deal in 2018 to produce shows and films for the streaming service.
With the deal, the Obamas will be able to reach 148 million paying subscribers, and they have said their production company will cover a wide spectrum of programming. But there is something they apparently have no interest in: mounting an attack on the current presidential administration.
The Obamas are intent on avoiding any material that could inflame tensions at a red-hot political moment, particularly as the 2020 presidential election begins to ramp up.
“Touching on issues of race and class, democracy and civil rights and much more, we believe each of these productions won’t just entertain, but will educate, connect and inspire us all,” Barack Obama said in a statement.
Making movies and television shows can be time consuming and messy, and there is no guarantee that some projects in development will ever be made.
Here’s an early look at the shows and films the Obamas are planning:
American Factory: A documentary that examines life in Ohio where a Chinese billionaire opened a factory in a former General Motors plant and hired 2,000 people. Higher Ground Productions described the film, produced by Participant Media and directed by Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, as “early days of hope and optimism give way to setbacks as high-tech China clashes with working-class America.” The documentary was already shown at the Sundance Film Festival, and Higher Ground Productions said it would be its first release.
Bloom: A drama series set in post-World War II New York that will explore the “barriers faced by women and by people of color in an era marked by hurdles but also tremendous progress.” It will be produced by Callie Khouri, who wrote Thelma & Louise.
A film adaptation of Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography by David W. Blight. Higher Ground did not announce a screenwriter or any producers.
An adaptation of a New York Times series, called “Overlooked,” about people whose deaths were previously not reported by the newspaper. The obituaries have been published in a recurring feature in the paper. Higher Ground Productions said it would be a scripted anthology series.
A series based on The Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy, a book by Michael Lewis.
Crip Camp: A documentary film about the origins of the disability rights movement.
Listen to Your Vegetables & Eat Your Parents: A half-hour series for preschoolers that will “take young children and their families around the globe on an adventure that tells us the story of our food.”