×

Universal Music Group Revives Polygram Label for Film and TV Production

Universal Music Group is reviving the Polygram Entertainment banner as the music giant seeks to expand its film and TV production activity.

UMG said Saturday that Polygram will be tasked with producing movies and TV programs and financing documentaries, with an emphasis on projects tied to artists connected to UMG labels. The first project from the imprint will be a documentary on Motown Records, one of the iconic music labels in the UMG vault. Also in the works is “Mystify,” a docu about the life of Michael Hutchence the late singer of INXS.

David Blackman, who was recruited to head UMG’s newly formed film and TV unit in January, will oversee the Santa Monica-based Polygram operation, reporting to UMG exec VP Michele Anthony and Universal Music Publishing Group chairman-CEO Jody Gerson.

“Polygram will play an important role in furthering UMG’s global strategy to produce the very best in audio-visual storytelling and provide our artists with an important medium for their expression and creativity,” Anthony said. “Music is essential to film and television – and the stories surrounding our artists and their music provide compelling narratives for audiences around the world.”

“The Story of Motown” will be spearheaded by Steve Barnett, chairman-CEO of Capitol Music Group. The project is billed as the first Motown doc to have the participation of label founder Berry Gordy, who will make material from his personal archive available for the first time. Polygram, Motown, Ghost Pictures and Fulwell 73 (the production banner run by James Corden and “Late Late Show” exec producer Ben Winston) are producing.

“Mystify” is a co-production of Polygram, Surfing Cowboys, Ghost Pictures and Passion Pictures. Richard Lowenstein is on board to direct; John Battsek is producing.

The Polygram Entertainment initiative was unveiled by UMG chief Lucian Grainge and the group’s Grammy Showcase event at the Ace Hotel in Los Angeles.

UMG has been edging into the documentary arena for the past few years, having served as a producer of the 2015 Amy Winehouse documentary “Amy” and HBO’s “Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck.”

(Pictured: Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson at the London premiere of “Motown the Musical” in 2016)

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Barack Obama Michelle Obama

    Obamas Discuss Higher Ground Productions, 'American Factory' in New Clip (Watch)

    In a new clip released by Netflix, Barack and Michelle Obama discuss the reasons why they’re jumping into the story business with their Higher Ground production banner. The clip takes the form of a sit down between the former President and First Lady, and Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar, the directors of “American Factory,” a [...]

  • Phyllis Nagy

    Writers Guild Candidate Phyllis Nagy Warns of Risks to Residuals (EXCLUSIVE)

    Phyllis Nagy, who is challenging Writers Guild of America West President David Goodman, has warned that guild leaders are endangering future residuals. Nagy, in a message posted Wednesday on her Writers Forward Together site, said residual payments are the most important issue the WGA faces during upcoming negotiations on a successor deal to the current master [...]

  • Kathleen FinchDiscovery Executive Session panel, TV

    Listen: Discovery's Kathleen Finch on How to Nurture Lifestyle Brands

    Kathleen Finch is a big believer in staying in your lane. Discovery’s chief lifestyle brands officer juggles a portfolio of 11 linear cable channels and their digital offshoots, from Food Network and HGTV to TLC and crime-centric Investigation Discovery. Many of Finch’s channels are defying the gravity of the moment in generating extremely high levels [...]

  • Stockholm Requiem

    Walter Presents Takes ZDF's 'Stockholm Requiem' for U.K., Australia

    Walter Presents has acquired Swedish thriller “Stockholm Requiem” for the U.K. and Australia from ZDF Enterprises. It marks the fourth Swedish drama series the global on-demand service, which specialises in non-English language drama, has picked up from ZDF following “Blue Eyes,” “Thicker Than Water” and “Before We Die.” Walter Iuzzolino, co-founder and curator of the [...]

  • Bill Bellamy Joins Octavia Spencer Netflix

    Bill Bellamy Joins Octavia Spencer Netflix Series 'Madam CJ Walker'

    Bill Bellamy has joined the cast of the forthcoming Netflix limited series “Madam CJ Walker,” which tells the story of the black hair care pioneer and mogul. The four-part series hails from executive producers LeBron James and Octavia Spencer, who will also star as the titular Madam. The series is inspired by the book “‘On Her Own Ground’ [...]

  • Ken Burns PBS

    BBC Boards 'American Crime Story: Impeachment,' Ken Burns’ 'Country Music'

    The BBC has acquired FX’s “American Crime Story: Impeachment” and Ken Burn’s upcoming PBS documentary series “Country Music,” the broadcaster announced Wednesday at the Edinburgh TV Festival. “American Crime Story: Impeachment” will air on BBC Two in the U.K., while “Country Music” has been picked up by sister channel BBC Four. “Impeachment: American Crime Story” is [...]

  • Sean Spicer Emmys

    Sean Spicer, Lamar Odom Join 'Dancing With the Stars' Cast

    Sean Spicer must have been practicing his dance moves since leaving the White House in 2017. The former press secretary will join the cast of “Dancing With the Stars” which will premiere its 28th season Sept. 16. Other bold-faced names to join the cast include actor James Van Der Beek, former Laker Lamar Odom, “The [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content