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Essence Pacts With Charles King’s Macro for Civil-Rights Documentary, Lance Gross Series

Time Inc.’s Essence is teaming up with Macro, the multicultural media company founded by Charles King, on a TV documentary about the civil rights movement and a digital series featuring actor-photographer Lance Gross.

The first project of the new partnership is “I Turn My Camera On,” a 10-part series taking viewers inside the studio and life of Gross (pictured above), whose credits include Tyler Perry’s “House of Payne” and “Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor.” The series will feature guests including Michael B. Jordan, Kelly Rowland, Keke Palmer and Omari Hardwick.

“I Turn My Camera On” is slated to premiere Oct. 4 on multiple platforms, including Essence.com and online-video network PeopleTV (formerly called the People/Entertainment Weekly Network), and will be extended to Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. It’s produced by Macro Digital Studio and sponsored by automaker Lexus’ L Studio.

In addition, Time Inc. Productions and Macro are developing a two-hour television documentary special shining a light on the unheralded women behind the civil rights movement in the 1960s. The companies are currently in discussions with potential distribution partners.

“As Time Inc. continues to expand each of its brands into television and digital video, joining forces with Macro and a veteran like Charles is a perfect match,” Bruce Gersh, Time Inc.’s SVP of business development and strategy, said in a statement.

Added King, “Growing up, I remember Essence magazines being displayed prominently throughout my home, and I realized its uniqueness in not only showing but celebrating black womanhood. To say that I’m proud to partner with this iconic brand is an understatement.”

King, a former top agent in WME’s film department, founded Macro in 2015. The company’s investors include Laurene Powell Jobs’ Emerson Collective, Michael Kassan’s MediaLink, and MNM Creative.

Macro has produced and co-financed projects including “Fences,” starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis (who won an Oscar for the role); the upcoming Netflix film “Mudbound” from director Dee Rees; and “Roman J. Israel, Esq.,” also starring Denzel Washington.

Time Inc. Productions’ two-part documentary special “The Story of Diana” aired on ABC last month. The division also has produced TV programming for partners including Netflix, A&E, PBS, Investigation Discovery and Animal Planet.

Time Inc.’s Essence Communications, which aims at a female African-American audience, comprises Essence magazine; Essence.com; the Essence Festival; the Black Women in Hollywood and Black Women in Music events; and digital-media ventures for mobile, TV and VOD.

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