The film will follow Johansen’s arrival in New York’s East Village in the late 1960s and the start of his musical career started in the 1970s as lead singer for the punk/glam pioneers the New York Dolls, along with his role in the swing revival as Buster Poindexter in the 1980s and in the blues as part of the Harry Smiths in the 1990s.
“I’ve known David Johansen for decades, and his music has been a touchstone ever since I listened to the Dolls when I was making ‘Mean Streets,’” said Scorsese. “Then and now, David’s music captures the energy and excitement of New York City. I often see him perform, and over the years I’ve gotten to know the depth of his musical inspirations. After seeing his show last year at the Café Carlyle, I knew I had to film it because it was so extraordinary to see the evolution of his life and his musical talent in such an intimate setting. For me, the show captured the true emotional potential of a live musical experience.”
Scorsese has been involved in music documentaries dating back to 1971’s “Woodstock,” “The Last Waltz” with The Band,” “Shine a Light’ with The Rolling Stones,” “George Harrision: Living in the Material World,” which earned two Emmys, and “Rolling Thunder Review: A Bob Dylan Story.” He earned he earned a Grammy Award for Best Music Film for the Dylan film “No Direction Home.”
“It is an honor for all of us at Showtime to be working with Martin Scorsese, who unquestionably stands as one of the greatest filmmakers of our time,” said Showtime’s Vinnie Malhotra. “Over the past few decades his documentaries have taken us inside the lives of some of the most iconic musicians, from The Band to The Rolling Stones to Bob Dylan, and now David Johansen and the New York Dolls. Johansen’s story transcends the walls of music and is a window into the art and cultural evolution of New York City.”
Scorsese and his team filmed Johansen earlier this year at New York’s Café Carlyle. David Tedeschi will also co-direct, and Scorsese and Sikelia Productions will executive produce with Brian Grazer, Rick Yorn, Mara Hennessey, Ron Howard and Imagine Documentaries. The documentary is produced for Showtime by Margaret Bodde for Sikelia Productions and Justin Wilkes and Sara Bernstein of Imagine Documentaries.