×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Netflix’s Ted Sarandos Teases Obama Projects

Barack and Michelle Obama’s Netflix production deal may see the former first couple become the streaming service’s next stars.

“I hope so,” said Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos when asked whether the Obamas would appear on camera in any of the projects they’re developing for the streaming giant.

The Obamas in May signed a deal with Netflix to produce original content for the streaming service. Sarandos indicated on Tuesday that the form that content will take is beginning to become clear.

“They have their eyes on film and television, fiction and non-fiction,” Sarandos said. “They want to do programming, storytelling that fits in with what they did during the presidency, obviously.” He said that among the topics the Obamas may cover are sports, lifestyle, and nutrition — but not politics. “It’s going to be great storytelling.”

Sarandos was joined onstage by Lisa Nishimura, Netflix’s head of documentary and comedy programming, and Maclain Way and Chapman Way, creators of the six-and-a-half-hour documentary series “Wild Wild Country,” about the Rajneeshpuram community, which the service released earlier this year.

Maclain Way drew a surprised reaction from the crowd at Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit in Beverly Hills on Tuesday when he appeared to take a shot at a Netflix competitor that passed on “Wild Wild Country.”

“To be honest, the reception was pretty cold at a lot of places,” Maclain Way said. “A lot of people were looking for a very name-recognizable celebrity with a built-in audience.” He added, “We had a meeting with a network executive at a place who was like, ‘What celebrities were part of this group?’ And then it was like, ‘Well, can we get a celebrity narrator to narrate it?’ And I was like, ‘Oh, this meeting’s not going well.'”

Asked by moderator Joanna Coles who the meeting was with, Way said, “It was HBO.”

Sarandos also spoke about the company’s overall deal with television producer Ryan Murphy, valued at more than $100 million.

“We’ve licensed most of Ryan Murphy’s programming for years in secondary windows on Netflix all around the world,” Sarandos said. “So we’ve got a pretty good idea of what people are watching.” He added, “I don’t think that people know that they’re watching a Ryan Murphy show all the time, but these shows have a sensibility that talks to them. It’s a little sexy, darkly funny.”

Of the deal with Murphy, he said, “I think we sized that deal to his proportionate value. And there’s an efficiency to what we’re doing.”

More TV

  • GREY'S ANATOMY - "Let's All Go

    'Grey's Anatomy': 5 Biggest Shockers From the Season 16 Midseason Finale

    Spoilers: Do not read the following unless you have watched the season 16 mid-season finale of “Grey’s Anatomy,” titled “Let’s All Go to the Bar.” The always-dramatic “Grey’s Anatomy” made sure to ramp up the action for its Season 16 mid-season finale. Not only has Meredith Grey’s love life just gotten potentially more complicated, but [...]

  • Imelda Staunton'Downton Abbey' photocall, Rome Film

    'The Crown' Has Not Cast Imelda Staunton for Seasons 5 and 6, Netflix Says

    Netflix is shooting down reports that Imelda Staunton is joining “The Crown.” “We are currently filming season 4 of ‘The Crown’ but have not commissioned any further seasons as yet, therefore any news on casting remains pure speculation,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement. Staunton, known to many as the despicable Dolores Umbridge in [...]

  • Baby Yoda The Mandalorian

    Baby Yoda Merchandise to Debut Ahead of Holiday Shopping Season

    Purchase Baby Yoda toys, you will. Fans of the breakout character from the Disney Plus series “The Mandalorian” have been surprised that there was no merchandise pegged to the character available upon the launch of the show, given that the Christmas shopping season is rapidly approaching. But according to an individual with knowledge of the [...]

  • Sean "Diddy" Combs Revolt TV

    Sean Combs Slams 'Illusion of Economic Inclusion' at Comcast Amid Byron Allen Fight

    Sean Combs has come out swinging against Comcast in a lengthy statement prompted by the cable giant’s legal battle with Entertainment Studios chief Byron Allen. Combs accused Comcast of maintaining “the illusion of economic inclusion” in its handling of a carriage agreement with Combs’ Revolt TV channel. Combs was critical of Comcast for failing to [...]

  • Oprah Winfrey during a tribute to

    TV News Roundup: OWN Orders Celebrity Relationship Series '#LoveGoals'

    In today’s TV news roundup, OWN orders a new unscripted relationship series and Disney Channel orders new seasons of “The Owl House” and “Sydney to the Max.”  DATES ABC will live broadcast the “2020 NCAA Gymnastics Championship Final” on April 18. The semi finals will air the day before at 1 and 6 p.m. ET. [...]

  • Sissy book cover

    Showtime to Develop Series Based on Jacob Tobia Memoir 'Sissy' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Showtime is developing a half-hour dramedy based on Jacob Tobia’s memoir, Variety has learned exclusively. Tobia is a non-binary LGBTQ rights activist, actor, producer, and author. Their memoir, “Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story,” was published earlier this year by Putnam Books at Penguin Random House. The series, currently titled “Sissy,” would follow Tobi Gibran, a non-binary college [...]

  • Invisible Stories from HBO Asia

    Singapore Festival: HBO Asia Tells ‘Invisible Stories’

    HBO Asia has expanded its burgeoning production slate with six-episode half-hour series “Invisible Stories.” The first two episodes of the show, “Lian” and “Chuan,” play at the Singapore International Film Festival on Nov. 28. The series is by writer and director Ler Jiyuan, who previously directed part of HBO Asia Original series “Grisse.” “Like 80% [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content