[09/22/20 - 09:59 AM] Video: HBO Special Event "David Byrne's American Utopia" Directed by Spike Lee Debuts October 17 Featuring David Byrne and an ensemble of eleven musicians from around the globe, the show invites audiences into a joyous dreamworld where human connection, self-evolution, and social justice are paramount.
[via press release from HBO]
HBO Special Event DAVID BYRNE'S AMERICAN UTOPIA Directed By Spike Lee Debuts October 17
The filmed version of the critically acclaimed Broadway show, DAVID BYRNE'S AMERICAN UTOPIA debuts SATURDAY, OCTOBER 17 (8:00-9:45 p.m. ET/PT). Directed by Academy Award(R) and Emmy(R)-winner Spike Lee, this transformative musical experience will be available on HBO and to stream on HBO Max.
American Utopia was filmed during its Broadway run at New York's Hudson Theatre, where it received much critical fanfare and played to sold out houses during its late 2019 to early 2020 run. Featuring David Byrne (former Talking Heads frontman) and an ensemble of eleven musicians from around the globe, the show invites audiences into a joyous dreamworld where human connection, self-evolution, and social justice are paramount. The HBO special was the Opening Night Presentation for the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival, where it received tremendous critical acclaim.
The film includes choreographed, untethered performances of songs from Byrne's 2018 Nonesuch album American Utopia, in addition to popular Talking Heads favorites such as "Once in a Lifetime'' and "Burning Down the House." Brief inter-song monologues allow Bryne to address various socio-political topics such as voter turnout, climate change, and immigration. The band's powerful performance of Janelle Monáe's "Hell You Talmbout'' draws attention to police brutality toward Black Americans. Annie-B Parson's choreography of the band members, who are mostly playing wireless instruments, creates a high-energy spectacle and exhilarating audiovisual experience.
"It is my honor and privilege that my art brother, Mr. David Byrne, asked me to join him in concert, to invite me into his magnificent world of 'American Utopia,'" said Spike Lee, with Byrne adding, "Spike and I have crossed paths many times over the years, obviously I'm a huge fan, and now finally here was an opportunity for us to work together. I am absolutely thrilled with the result."
Academy Award(R) and Emmy(R)-winner Spike Lee ("BlacKkKlansman," HBO's "When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts") directs and produces for his production company 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, which has produced countless iconic films like "Do the Right Thing" and "Malcolm X" (both directed by Lee) since its 1979 launch.
Academy Award(R), Golden Globe, BAFTA and Grammy Award-winner David Byrne ("The Last Emperor," "Everything That Happens Will Happen Today") creates, stars, and produces for his record label Todomundo. The Scottish-born, American-raised, songwriter and singer is best known as the frontman of the New Wave band Talking Heads, which was active between 1975 - 1991. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. Other artistic achievements include the theatrical piece "Joan of Arc: Into the Fire," a series of interactive environments questioning human perception and bias; "The Institute Presents: NEUROSOCIETY"; the theatrical production "Here Lies Love"; and the book How Music Works. Byrne also wrote, directed, and starred in "True Stories," a musical collage of discordant Americana released in 1986. For his contribution to The Last Emperor's soundtrack Byrne received an Academy Award for Best Original Score.
The original Broadway cast who joins Byrne for the special are Jacquelene Acevedo (percussionist), Gustavo Di Dalva (percussionist), Daniel Freedman (percussionist), Chris Giarmo (vocals / dance & vocal captain), Tim Keiper (percussionist), Tendayi Kuumba (vocals), Karl Mansfield (keyboard / music director), Mauro Refosco (percussionist / music director), Stéphane San Juan (percussionist), Angie Swan (guitar), and Bobby Wooten III (bass).
Coinciding with the debut of the HBO special, Bloomsbury will release "American Utopia," with words and lyrics by David Byrne and art by revered best-selling author, illustrator and artist Maria Kalman. Containing more than 150 illustrations which bring Byrne's words and lyrics to life, the book is a joyful collaboration between Byrne and Kalman, and an inspiring celebration of the connections between people from all over the world.
The David Byrne's American Utopia Broadway cast album also is available on Nonesuch Records.
AMERICAN UTOPIA is a multifaceted event that encompasses social impact voting initiatives. HBO, in tandem with Participant, will engage with call-to-action organizations to increase voter education, mobilization and vote-by-mail efforts this November, including through www.myamericanutopia.com, which provides real-time information to register to vote, check your registration status, and request a mail-in ballot.
DAVID BYRNE'S AMERICAN UTOPIA is directed by Spike Lee; executive producers, Jeff Skoll, David Linde, Diane Weyermann, Len Blavatnik, David Bither, Charlie Cohen, Kurt Deutsch, Bill Pohlad, Christa Zofcin Workman, Jon Kamen, Dave Sirulnick, Meredith Bennett, Kristin Caskey, Mike Isaacson, Patrick Catullo; producers, David Byrne, Spike Lee; director of photography, Ellen Kuras; editor, Adam Gough. Participant, River Road Entertainment, Warner Music Entertainment and Radical Media are executive producing and financing the project, with Participant as lead.