The Sundance Channel has picked up exclusive rights to “National Anthem: Inside the ‘Vote for Change’ Concert Tour,” a five-hour special featuring live perfs by Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt and other artists.
Interspersed with the live music will be the “National Anthem” part, consisting of pre-taped behind-the-scenes footage shot by Albert Maysles (“Gimme Shelter”) and D.A. Pennebaker (“The War Room”), who will follow the tour from its inception on Oct. 1 through its climax in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 11.
That Oct. 11 cablecast will be a Sundance blowout, the biggest event in the network’s eight-year history.
Maysles and Pennebaker, working together for the first time in 40 years, will focus on the logistics of the tour.
The tour includes 37 shows in 33 cities, mostly in swing states.
Robert Redford, founder of Sundance Channel, said in a statement, “Sundance is pleased to present these legendary filmmakers’ view of the collision between pop culture and politics at this fascinating moment in U.S. history.”
Tour is sponsored by MoveOn.org, the online liberal advocacy group. Concert proceeds go to Americans Coming Together, whose aim is to register voters hostile to President Bush.Other performers on the tour are the Dave Matthews Band, the Dixie Chicks, Jackson Browne, James Taylor, John Fogerty, John Mellencamp, Jurassic 5, Keb’ Mo’, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Pearl Jam and R.E.M.
They’ll all appear on the same stage with Springsteen and Raitt for the first time at the Oct. 11 finale.
One reason Sundance was able to win the rights to such a star-studded event is that it’s commercial-free. Ad-supported networks steered clear because advertisers would shy away from buying time on such a politically charged special.
Sundance has also become the cable-TV outlet for Robert Greenwald’s docs “Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War” and “Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election,” both harshly critical of Bush, and a one-hour TV edition of Al Franken’s daily liberal radio show.
Producer Joel Gallen will supervise the live concert footage for the Sundance special, aided by three segment directors: Nick Doob, Antonio Ferrera and Chris Hegedus. The producers are Bill Curren, Frazer Pennebaker and Maureen Ryan.