You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Teddy Pendergrass – If You Don’t Know Me’ Lands at BBC, Showtime, Sky (EXCLUSIVE)

“Teddy Pendergrass – If You Don’t Know Me,” the upcoming feature documentary that tells the tumultuous life story of the R&B and soul legend, will go out on Showtime in the U.S. and Sky Arts and the BBC in the U.K., where Moviehouse will also handle a theatrical release.

The film will premiere at the Philadelphia Film Festival on Friday as part of a festival run that includes DOC NYC and Sound Unseen in Minneapolis. An exclusive first-look can be seen below.

Producer and director Olivia Lichtenstein made the film through U.K.-based factual TV and film banner Storyvault Films. It came about after she watched watching “Supermensch,” Mike Myers’ movie about Hollywood power player Shep Gordon, who was also Pendergrass’ manager. “I called Shep and said, ‘People don’t remember Teddy the way they ought to, and I have to make this film,’ and Shep said, ‘Let’s do it,’” Lichtenstein recalled.

Gordon duly came on board as an exec producer, alongside two of Pendergrass’ other managers, Daniel Markus and Allan Strahl. BBC Films has also boarded as a production partner, alongside Tempo Entertainment and Wasted Talent. Kew Media, which just launched another major music feature documentary, “Chuck Berry,” is handling sales and will have shop “Teddy Pendergrass – If You Don’t Know Me” at the AFM.

Lichtenstein, a BAFTA-winner, said she decided that the voices in the film had to be of people personally acquainted with Pendergrass, who died in 2010, “to make it feel as visceral and alive as possible.”

Pendergrass found success as the lead singer of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, with hits including “Don’t Leave Me This Way” and “If You Don’t Know Me by Now.” He went on to record several hit solo albums in the U.S. On the verge of even greater stardom, Pendergrass was paralyzed after a car accident. He went on to sing again and record five more albums.

“It works on lots of levels,” Lichtenstein said. “It’s interesting because of the music. It’s interesting because of the time. There was this issue of being a crossover artist, this ridiculous distinction between black and white music.”

The filmmaker and former BBC exec adds that the accident prevented Pendergrass from becoming an even bigger mainstream star. “I think that’s why people don’t know him in the same way as a Marvin Gaye or a Luther Vandross,” she said. “What I hope is he’ll get to crossover now, with the film.”

The producers hope that the feature will attract existing fans and bring Pendergrass’ story and music to a new generation. “The way he sings is so authentic it can’t fail to touch you, whatever your age and whatever generation you are from,” Lichtenstein said. “Danny Markus, when he saw a cut of the film, said, ‘You let him sing again,’ which is something we wanted to achieve, so it was nice to feel that has worked.”

More TV

  • disney-logo

    K Madhavan Becomes India Manager at Disney

    K Madhavan has been promoted to country manager of all of Disney’s conventional TV businesses in the key Indian market. Madhavan was previously head of Disney’s regional language TV businesses in South India since 2016. Madhavan’s promotion was announced internally within Disney in India on Friday. He takes over from Sanjay Gupta, who has resigned [...]

  • _DSF7736.RAF

    How 'The Expanse' 'Died and Went to Heaven' at Amazon

    In the content space race currently being fought out in the entertainment industry, shows getting picked up by one platform after being dumped by another is becoming a more frequent phenomenon. Some moves feel more like a marriage of convenience, while others feel like a more obvious fit. Take “The Expanse” moving to Amazon Prime [...]

  • Lulu Wang Nicole Kidman

    Lulu Wang Boards Nicole Kidman Amazon Series 'The Expatriates'

    “The Farewell” writer and director Lulu Wang is teaming up with Nicole Kidman for the drama series “The Expatriates” at Amazon. The show had received a straight-to-series order at the streamer back in July. Wang is joining the series as a writer and executive producer and will also direct multiple episodes. Wang and Kidman had [...]

  • WGA West Logo

    Former 'Letterman' Head Writer Merrill Markoe to Receive Writers Guild Honor

    Merrill Markoe, longtime head writer at “Late Night With David Letterman,” will receive the Writers Guild of America West’s Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for Television Writing Achievement. She will be honored at the Writers Guild Awards on Feb. 1 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. “Merrill Markoe’s pioneering work created what was then a new language [...]

  • TV News Roundup: Natalie Martinez Joins

    TV News Roundup: Natalie Martinez Joins CBS All Access' 'The Stand' (EXCLUSIVE)

    In today’s TV news roundup, Natalie Martinez will guest star in CBS All Access’ “The Stand,” and USA announces the third season premiere date of “The Sinner.”  CASTING Natalie Martinez (“The I-Land”) will guest star in CBS All Access‘ adaptation of “The Stand,“ based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name, Variety has exclusively learned. [...]

  • Deadliest Catch - Crab Fishing In

    Discovery Networks Corners Composers in Music Royalties Battle

    Shows on the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, HGTV and Food Network may sound very different in the coming months. That’s because Discovery Networks, which owns those and other cable channels, is instituting a new pay policy that virtually assures no composer currently working on their programs will do so after Dec. 31. Discovery has informed [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content