‘Jimmy Carter Rock & Roll President’ to CNN Films

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Jimmy Carter and Willie Nelson (Photo via CNN Films)

CNN Films has acquired North American broadcast rights to a new documentary, Jimmy Carter Rock & Roll President. The film, featuring interviews with Carter as well as Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Chuck Leavell, Paul Simon, and many others, is from award-winning director Mary Wharton, producer Chris Farrell, and writer Bill Flanagan.

From the network’s June 2020 announcement: Jimmy Carter Rock & Roll President chronicles the role of popular music in propelling a relatively unknown candidate from Georgia to the White House, and the significant role that music has played in President Carter’s life and work. The film shows how Carter’s life-long passion for music gave him an unexpected edge as a presidential candidate, as he tapped into a force that transcended racial and generational divides, and often party lines. Carter’s appreciation for all genres of music and friendships with the likes of Dylan, Nelson, Gregg Allman, and Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, helped to define his administration.

The documentary was originally set to open the 19th annual Tribeca Film Festival last April. It was the closing film for AFI DOCS film festival on June 21. Its CNN premiere has not yet been announced.

Others among the eclectic cast of contributors include Bono, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Jimmy Buffett, Roseanne Cash, Andrew Young, and Madeleine Albright. The documentary includes archival era-defining live performances from Dylan, Nelson, Simon, and Jimmy Buffett, among others.

Watch a clip from the documentary

Producer Farrell and director Wharton said, “When we started this journey two-and-one-half years ago, our goal was to tell an interesting and surprising story about President Carter and his relationship with music, in the hopes that it would make people see him in a new light.” Wharton earned a Grammy Award for Best Music Film for her 2004 documentary feature, Sam Cooke: Legend. She’s also directed documentaries on The Doors, Elton John, Jimi Hendrix, and others.

In recent years, CNN Films has acquired such documentaries as Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice and Love, Gilda about actress-comedienne Gilda Radner.

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