PBS, Target snag Bennet film

Rights to documentary sold to TV, homevideo

A host of rights to “Tony Bennett: The Music Never Ends,” a docu about the legendary American singer, have been sold to television and homevid. Clint Eastwood-produced doc features Eastwood interviewing Bennett and jamming with him.

PBS has bought the first television window for its WNET-produced “American Masters” series, while an exclusive deal has been signed to sell the DVD at Target stores. Warner Home Video also will release a special two-disc version of the film.

Pic, the first project financed and produced by Netflix’s Red Envelope Entertainment banner (Daily Variety, Feb. 17), also will be available for rental and onscreen viewing at Netflix at the same time as the Target release.

The “American Masters” series, which has aired docs about Bob Dylan and other musical icons, will debut the pic on Sept. 12, with the DVD of the movie sold exclusively at Target beginning Sept. 25.

Pic centers on Bennett’s long career, including a seminal performance at the Monterey Jazz Festival several years ago. Movie also chronicles American history through the eyes of the octogenarian crooner, including the civil rights marches in the 1960s and Bennett’s interactions with figures as diverse as Martin Luther King Jr. and Johnny Carson.

Bruce Ricker — a longtime Eastwood collaborator who helmed “Clint Eastwood: Out of the Shadows,” an “American Masters” doc about the hyphenate — wrote, directed and produced “Bennett,” while “Million Dollar Baby” editor Joel Cox edited the doc.

Red Envelope originally had contemplated a theatrical release, but execs decided the movie would have greater exposure and earning power with a television and exclusive homevid deal.

Many indie pics barely break even on a theatrical release, and use it simply as a way to attract reviews; with the pic already capable of drawing media because of its stars, it didn’t need that bump from theatrical, said Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos.

Target, which has previously had exclusive retail windows on Bennett’s Grammy-winning albums, will promote the pic in stores and via marketing.

Warner Home Video, which has many Eastwood pics in its catalog, will issue the special two-disc set of “Bennett” about six weeks after the Target debut. Set will include the movie and a second disc featuring rare archival concert footage of the singer.

A live event also will be set around the launch Sept. 10 at the Ziegfeld in Gotham; Eastwood and Bennett will be among those turning out to flog the pic.

Over the last two years, Red Envelope has been buying homevid and theatrical rights to dozens of movies out of festivals and in other venues.

Sarandos says the company will continue to concentrate on distribution, but may occasionally produce and finance pics, especially nonfiction films.

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