The film will feature BuzzFeed News reporting by Jim DeRogatis — the veteran music critic and radio host who broke the explosive story on Kelly’s alleged sex cult for the site last year — along with deputy national editor Marisa Carroll, who has overseen BuzzFeed News’ coverage of the ongoing story.
Kelly has been accused of sexually abusive and inappropriate behavior toward numerous women and girls over the past two decades, including allegations from at least five women this month. In 2002 he was indicted on multiple counts of child pornography (before he was later acquitted). The R&B artist has never been convicted of a crime.
The documentary for Hulu also will feature interviews with key figures involved in Kelly’s past, including several survivors and the singer’s associates. DeRogatis will provide commentary in the film and also will serve as a consulting producer.
According to DeRogatis’ BuzzFeed News story published in July 2017, Kelly had “brainwashed” multiple young women who lived in his homes in Atlanta and Chicago after their parents brought them to him in an effort to advance their music careers. Kelly reportedly recorded his sexual encounters with the women, and allegedly subjected them to verbal and physical abuse.
The film, which is as yet untitled, will be distributed exclusively on Hulu. There’s no expected premiere date at this point.
The R. Kelly documentary will be directed by Lyric R. Cabral, director of Emmy-winning documentary feature “(T)error.” Oscar-winner Laura Poitras (“Citizenfour,” “Risk,” “My Country, My Country”) and Charlotte Cook (“Risk,” “The Gospel of Eureka,” “Our New President”). will serve as executive producers. Poitras and Cook are co-founders of Field of Vision, the documentary unit of First Look Media. The project was developed by Linzee Troubh, Shani Hilton, and Cindy Vanegas-Gesuale of BuzzFeed News, which is producing.
Separately, earlier this month cable network Lifetime announced plans for a documentary series and movie looking into the allegations against Kelly.
The R. Kelly film project for Hulu is latest programming deal for BuzzFeed News. Its weekly show for Netflix, “Follow This,” which profiles the work of its own staffers in 15-minute segments, is set to debut July 9. Meanwhile, Twitter recently renewed BuzzFeed News’ “AM to DM” morning show through the end of 2018. In addition, a true-crime show for Oxygen, based on reporting by BuzzFeed News’ Katie Baker on the mysterious death of Mississippi teen Jessica Chambers, is set to air this fall.