The documentary, premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival on June 19 and debuting on Showtime on July 4, explores the career of Dick Gregory, the legendary comedian and activist who was at the forefront of the fight for civil rights.
Gaines and his team amassed more than 300 hours of archival footage of Gregory, whose own voice bookends the documentary. Work on it began prior to his death in 2017 of heart failure, and it will show his early career as a comedian as well as the impact of his work as a self-described “agitator.” “The One and Only Dick Gregory” features interviews with Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, Kevin Hart, Wanda Sykes, W. Kamau Bell and more, along with original music from Black Thought.
Gregory, who died of heart failure in 2017, was a constant disruptor, going on hunger strikes and being arrested multiple times for protesting racial injustice and the Vietnam War. His son Christian served as an exec producer on the project.
“There is no more important time than now to revisit the life of Dick Gregory,” Showtime’s executive vice president of nonfiction programming Vinnie Malhotra said. “His fearless voice rose to the challenges of his time, calling upon Americans to question their beliefs, in an era where you risked your livelihood — maybe even your life — to speak out.”
Malhotra continued: “Though a comedic genius of his generation, comedy turned out just to be the beginning of one of the most unique and impactful journeys of any person we’ve seen. Andre and team have done a remarkable job in showing just how Gregory walked the walk and talked the talk in a way we have rarely seen anyone else do.”
“The One and Only Dick Gregory” is a Cinemation Studios production, written and directed by Gaines, who produces alongside Valerie Edwards. In addition to his son, the film is executive produced by Kevin Hart and Bryan Smiley for Hartbeat Productions, Lena Waithe and Rishi Rajani for Hillman Grad Productions, Chad Troutwine and Matt Rachamkin.