The news of the performance documentary, hailing from RadicalMedia, was announced Monday by PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Calif.
“Hamilton’s America” will showcase the making of the hit Broadway musical, following creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda, along with his team. The project will feature interviews with key thinkers and artists, plus scenes from “Hamilton,” including never-before-seen footage.
“PBS is thrilled to give viewers an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at this sensational — and sold out — Broadway musical,” said Beth Hoppe, chief programming executive and general manager, general audience programming at PBS. “With this level of access to Lin-Manuel Miranda and his team, PBS continues to live up to our mission of giving viewers a backstage pass and a front row seat to the arts.”
Exec producer David Horn added, “Since we presented ‘In the Heights: Chasing Broadway Dreams’ in 2009, we’ve been taken by Lin-Manuel’s unique talents and we’re honored to collaborate with him again on ‘Hamilton’s America.’ The film will offer audiences a fascinating point of view as we witness first-hand Lin’s inspiration and creative process, as well as the lasting impact of Alexander Hamilton on our society today.”
Miranda, who wrote the music and lyrics, plus plays the title role in the musical — and will serve as an exec producer on the documentary — commented: “On behalf of the entire ‘Hamilton’ cast and creative team, many of whom are ‘In The Heights’ alumni, we are overjoyed to be returning to PBS in partnership with RadicalMedia with this project. We invited filmmaker Alex Horwitz into ‘the room where it happened’ a few years ago, and he’s captured parts of this journey no one has seen. We can’t wait to share it, thanks to PBS.”
“Hamilton’s America” marks a continuation of business between Miranda and RadicalMedia. Years ago, the production company filmed some of Miranda’s early work with the hip-hop improv group “Freestyle Love Supreme,” and later down the road, they filmed the creation of his “In the Heights” musical for the PBS Great Performances documentary, “In the Heights: Chasing Broadway Dreams.”
RadicalMedia’s Dave Sirulnick, who serves as an exec producer on the doc, tells Variety that “Hamilton’s America” will appeal to theater-goers who have seen the musical, but also to those who haven’t been able to get their hands on a ticket. “For all viewers, they will get to see moments on the journey that Lin and his creative team undertook, taking the story of the least celebrated of the founding fathers of the United States, relating to it in a profound personal way, making bold creative choices, and finding inspiration close to home and far away.”
He adds that the musical’s greatness has led to the “most incredible, natural buzz, curiosity and desire to be in the room where it happens.” Of his documentary, Sirulnick says, “This is one of the rare experiences in our current digital age that can only be seen in it’s entirety, in one theater in one city, and that runs counter to much of the ubiquity of the digital-sharing age that we live in. And that is fascinating. The documentary ‘Hamilton’s America’ will bring people into the theater with new footage of the musical, and along for the bold creative journey that it took to get there.”
RadicalMedia, which is nominated for an Oscar for its Netflix documentary “What Happened, Miss Simone?” is also behind “Keith Richards: Under the Influence” and “The Fog of War,” among other award-winning projects. The company produces “Hamilton’s America” with Thirteen Productions LLC for WNET and PBS. Alex Horwitz is director on the documentary, which is produced by Nicole Pusateri and exec producers Jon Kamen, Justin Wilkes, Jeffrey Seller, Sirulnick and Miranda. Bill O’Donnell is series producer and Horn is an exec producer for “Great Performances.”
“Hamilton” the musical is based on Rob Chernow’s biography. Thomas Kail (Fox’s “Grease: Live”) is the director, Andy Blankenbuehler is the choreographer and musical direction and orchestrations are led by Alex Lacamoire. Opening Aug. 6 this past year on Broadway to much critical acclaim, Variety called the sensation a “brilliantly inventive bio-musical.”