As he marks a half century in showbiz this year, David L. Wolper is returning to his roots in the documentary field with the creation of WolperDox, a specialty production arm dedicated to new docu fare as well as reissues and updates of Wolper classics.
At the same time, Wolper is prepping a four-hour miniseries for TNT based on the Marion Zimmer Bradley bestseller “The Mists of Avalon,” a retelling of the King Arthur legend from the perspective of Camelot’s femme residents. Lensing is expected to begin next spring in Europe.
The WolperDox banner will be a subsidiary of the Warner Bros.-based Wolper Organization, headed by Wolper and his son, Mark Wolper.
The Wolper canon contains some 400-plus hours of documentary programming, much of which is ripe for updating and repackaging. WolperDox will mine the old and the new to develop feature, TV and direct-to-video releases.
The Wolper archive includes studies of everything from the rise of Hollywood to the fall of Hitler, from timely docus on the 1960 and 1964 presidential elections to “The Hellstrom Chronicle,” the 1971 Oscar-winning probe into the insect world. In the 1960s, Wolper also was the first to bring National Geographic and Jacques-Yves Cousteau specs to the small screen.
The History Channel cabler will showcase some of those gems in its “David L. Wolper Presents” series set to bow this month.
“There is enormous demand now for documentaries,” Wolper told Daily Variety on Tuesday. “When I originally went into the documentary business, there were only three places to go. Now, practically every channel does documentaries and biographies.”
Indeed, Wolper is just wrapping production on two 10-hour docus, CNN’s “Celebrate the Century,” which bowed this month, and Discovery Eye on People’s “Legends, Icons and Superstars of the 20th Century.”
Looking ahead, Wolper says he’s particularly anxious to dig into the vast Warner Bros.-Turner film library for material on showbiz-related topics.
“I enjoy movie history, and I’ve never had so many films at my disposal,” Wolper said. “There’s not only the feature films, but the shorts and the cartoons and all of the unused footage … I only wish I were 40 years younger.”