‘Donna Summer: Disco Queen’ Spotlights the Singer Whose Voice Shaped the 1970s
(Albuquerque, NM) Wednesday, December 12, 2018 — REELZ today announced new original programming for winter 2019 including four new specials, three new series and three returning series. Highlighting the specials is the U.S. premiere of Saturday Night Fever: The Ultimate Disco Movie celebrating the 40th anniversary of the movie shot guerrilla style on the streets of Brooklyn with a BeeGees soundtrack and a fledgling 23-year-old John Travolta that became a cultural phenomenon. At the heart of ‘70s disco fever is one of the biggest voices that shaped contemporary music in Donna Summer and the new special Donna Summer: Disco Queen shows how she became the queen of disco ushering in a new era of sound that is still heard today. Donna Summer: Disco Queen leads a week packed with ‘70s themed programming starting Monday, January 14 with shows about the celebrities, music and movies that defined a generation.
“We’re excited to kick off 2019 with a return to the disco era with the U.S. premiere of Saturday Night Fever: The Ultimate Disco Movie showing viewers the incredible impact of the movie that took the country by storm,” said Steve Cheskin, SVP of REELZ Programming. “Our new specials, shows and returning series feed our viewers’ appetites for stories that reveal every side of fame as we continue our commitment to original programming telling the real stories behind real lives and real celebrities.”
When it comes to fame and genre defining talent few rival superstar Mariah Carey. In the new special Mariah Carey: The Diva, The Drama see the music legend’s life unfold with personal setbacks and soaring career achievements going hand in hand as she became one of the best-selling female artists of all time. From the vibrant world of chart topping hits to the dark corners of the internet the special Slenderman Stabbing: The Untold Storyis a jarring story of three 12 year old girls caught in a tangled web of betrayal and attempted murder fueled by the sinister and fictional online character Slenderman.
The dark and messy sides of celebrity take center stage in the three new series Notorious, I Lived with a Killer and Famous Fortune Fights. Notorious puts a dubious spotlight on the sinister people who gained notoriety and continue to pervade pop culture through movies and TV shows about their heinous acts. I Lived with a Killer is a frightening and personal take on the stories of infamous killers as told through family members who lived with them. Then in Famous Fortune Fights it’s a dive into the crazy world celebrity mega estate battles that have left millions of dollars and a star’s name in jeopardy.
Autopsy: The Last Hours Of… leads returning series with new and revealing stories behind surprising and mysterious deaths of Michael Clarke Duncan, Rue McClanahan, Howard Hughes, Christopher Reeve and John Candy among others. Murder Made Me Famous is back with the ominous real stories about Pablo Escobar, Osama Bin Laden, “Son of Sam” David Berkowitz, the Boston Strangler and Richard Speck while Price of Famereturns to show the remarkable yet often devastating paths to fame lived by Selena Gomez, Angelina Jolie, Robert Downey Jr., Mackenzie Phillips, Princess Diana and the cast of Diff’rent Strokes.
Premiere dates and times:
Donna Summer: Disco Queen (new special) – Monday, January 14 at 9pm ET/ 6pm PT
Saturday Night Fever: The Ultimate Disco Movie (new special) – Saturday, January 19 at 9pm ET/ 6pm PT
I Lived with a Killer (new series) – Friday, January 25 at 8pm ET/ 5pm PT
Slenderman Stabbing: The Untold Story (new special) – Saturday, January 26 at 8pm ET/ 5pm PT
Famous Fortune Fights (new series) –Thursday, January 31 at 9pm ET/ 6pm PT
Mariah Carey: The Diva, The Drama (new special) – March 2019
Autopsy: The Last Hours Of… (returning series) – Sunday, February 10 at 9pm ET/ 6pm PT
Price of Fame (returning series) - Sunday, February 10 at 10pm ET/ 7pm PT
Murder Made Me Famous (returning series) – Saturday, March 16 at 9pm ET/ 6pm PT
Notorious (new series) – Saturday, March 16 at 10pm ET/ 7pm PT
Below are descriptions for all new and returning programming listed alphabetically:
Autopsy: The Last Hours of... (Series returns Sunday, February 10 at 9pm ET/ 6pm PT)- Every episode of this documentary series reveals the truth behind the controversial and mysterious deaths of celebrities and people whose untimely deaths were often surrounded by elements of shock, scandal and intense media attention. The new hour-long episodes focus on the lives and last hours of Michael Clarke Duncan, Rue McClanahan, Howard Hughes, Christopher Reeve, Luther Vandross, John Candy and Rick James. The series features reconstructions of their final hours based on crucial medical evidence from the actual autopsies while interviews with friends, family and experts shed light on the events that led to the celebrity’s death—finally putting an end to the mystery. Autopsy: The Last Hours of… is produced by Potato, part of ITV Studios.
Donna Summer: Disco Queen (New special premieres Monday, January 14 at 9pm ET/ 6pm PT)- Donna Summer launched to stardom during the 1970s disco era when her remarkable talent changed the music landscape. Nicknamed the “First Lady of Love” for songs like “Love to Love You Baby” and “I Fell Love” Summer would spend nearly 40 years in the spotlight selling more than 100 million records. But mystery would surround the diva’s final years as a cancer diagnosis saw her pull far away from the public eye. Helping to tell Summer’s life story are interviews with people close to her throughout her career including her former husband Helmuth Sommer, nephew and collaborator Robert ‘Omega’ Grant and biographer Josiah Howard. Donna Summer: Disco Queen is produced by Potato, part of ITV Studios.
Famous Fortune Fights (New series premieres Thursday, January 31 at 9pm ET/ 6pm PT with Johnny Depp episode)- The saying more money more problems definitely rings true with some celebrity mega fortunes. Whether it’s a pricey divorce, shocking inheritances for unprepared heirs or untimely deaths when a wealthy celebrity has a massive estate there’s often an army of people nudging around for their cut of the pie. In hour-long episodes of Famous Fortune Fights husband and wife media experts and attorneys Danielle and Andy Mayoras explore the legal ups and downs and fortunes earned and lost by some of America’s biggest household names. Johnny Depp, Madonna, Britney Spears, Harrison Ford, Hulk Hogan, Donald Sterling, Casey Kasem, Lisa Marie Presley, Robin Williams, Sonny Bono are the focus of episodes that show viewers how they earned their millions, how they saved or squandered it and the lawsuits, divorces, family fights and bad business partners led to famous fortune fights. Famous Fortune Fights is produced by Intellectual Property Corporation.
I Lived with a Killer (New series premieres Friday, January 25 at 8pm ET/ 5pm PT)- Their lives are portrayed in movies, TV shows and books and their shocking acts are woven into the fabric of scary stories about real monsters in the world. But what happens when the monster is someone you live with and love? Every hour-long episode of I Lived with a Killer brings a haunting new twist to cases that terrified the public with the powerful stories from the family members of killers. Viewers will hear from BTK Killer Denis Rader’s daughter Kerri Rawson, the Green River Killer Gary Ridgway’s wife Judith Lorraine Lynch, Sammy ‘the Bull’ Gravano’s daughter Karen Gravano, D.C. Sniper John Allen Muhammad’s wife Mildred Muhammad and many more. Viewers will also hear from members of the victims’ families, detectives on each case and experts who break down the media frenzy around the crimes. I Lived with a Killer is produced by Breakthrough Entertainment.
Mariah Carey: The Diva, The Drama (New special premieres in March 2019)- When it comes to fame and genre defining talent few rival superstar Mariah Carey. One of the best-selling female artists of all time with more than 200 million records sold Carey has set legendary benchmarks throughout her 18-year career as a singer and songwriter. But it wasn’t all No. 1 hits, magazine covers and glamorous red carpets. In the two hour special Mariah Carey: The Diva, The Drama see the inside story on how the superstar changed music while constantly battling numerous setbacks both professionally and personally. Go behind the scenes of the movie Glitter and hear from castmates and crew who tell of tension on set and diva behavior that nearly derailed the entire project. Carey’s wild success also guaranteed her intense media attention and despite her commercial success early in her career she attracted many critics who tried to tarnish her Cinderalla story taking aim at her racial identity. Through it all Carey’s astonishing vocals and willingness to take creative risks made her a global sensation. Mariah Carey: The Diva, The Drama is produced by Potato, part of ITV Studios.
Murder Made Me Famous Murder Made Me Famous (Series returns Saturday, March 16 at 9pm ET/ 6pm PT)- The unnerving psychology behind murder has long been source material for TV, books and movies but why do certain killers capture the attention of millions and their stories generate so much interest? In new hour-long episodes see the stories of Pablo Escobar, Osama Bin Laden, Son of Sam, Laurie Bambi Bembenek, Boston Strangler and Richard Speck. Murder Made Me Famous presents dramatic recreations of well-known crimes using archival material and insightful commentary from those connected to the case to help unravel the twisted personalities behind the grisly crimes. Featured commentator for every episode is author and PEOPLE crime reporter, Steve Helling, who has covered several high-profile crime stories including the Natalee Holloway and Laci Peterson disappearances. Murder Made Me Famous is produced by AMS Pictures.
Notorious (New series premiere Saturday, March 16 at 10pm ET/ 7pm PT)- The cliché rags to riches stories of many celebrities are often about how they succeeded through hard work and perseverance but what about the twisted individuals who gained fame for doing things far outside of the bounds of legality and morality? These are stories of extortion, stalking, lying, defrauding and even murder. Whether it’s Anthony Wiener’s descent from rising political star to sex offender, one of the world’s richest heiresses Patty Hearst robbing a bank at gunpoint, or Aaron Hernandez going from NFL star and multi-millionaire to being convicted of murder and ultimately taking his own life while behind bars Notorious explores the darker side of fame. Through interviews with crime experts, recreations, archival footage and police reports viewers will learn the stories and motivations behind these individuals who surpassed infamy to become truly notorious.
Price of Fame (Series returns Sunday, February 10 at 10pm ET/ 7pm PT)- The road to stardom is often paved with amazing and devastating public and private events. In new hour-long episodes of Price of Fame see the heartfelt stories of Selena Gomez, Angelina Jolie, Robert Downey Jr., Mackenzie Phillips, Princess Diana and the cast of Diff’rent Strokes. Whether it’s turbulent family drama, harrowing substance abuse, outlandish spending habits or a combination of those and more, these celebrities all paid a hefty price for their fame. Giving viewers an intimate perspective on each story are personal accounts from the celebrity’s family members and friends in addition to entertainment journalists who covered the rise, fall and sometimes rise again of the stars. Price of Fame is produced by AMS Pictures.
Saturday Night Fever: The Ultimate Disco Movie (New documentary special U.S. premiere Saturday, January 19 at 9pm ET/ 6pm PT) –Celebrate the 40th anniversary of Saturday Night Fever—a movie made for pennies that became a box office sensation and cultural phenomenon that got America disco dancing. Cast and crew share their stories about filming guerrilla style on the streets of Brooklyn and the potent influence of the movie’s producer Robert Stigwood whose faith in a fledgling 23-year-old John Travolta and music from The BeeGees proved visionary. Hear first-hand accounts from the movie’s stars including Travolta, Barry Miller, Karen Lynn Gorney, Donna Pesco, Joseph Cali and Paul Pape who talk about the movie’s supreme success against a backdrop of setbacks and unexpected twists and turns. Hosted by Dancing with the Stars judge Bruno Tonioli the two hour documentary special includes interviews with the Saturday Night Fever crew including producer Kevin McCormick, former head of RSO records Bill Oakes, writer Nik Cohn, director John Badham, dance instructor Denney Terrio, costume designer Patricia von Brandenstein and location manager Lloyd Kaufman. Packed with clips from the original movie and rarely seen on-location archive footage the special takes viewers on a remarkable journey from mafia threats during filming to igniting a dance revolution. Saturday Night Fever: The Ultimate Disco Movie is produced by Banijay Rights Confidential.
Slenderman Stabbing: The Untold Story (New documentary special premieres Saturday, January 26 at 8pm ET/ 5pm PT)- On May 31, 2014 what began as an innocent slumber party among three young friends ended with one of them stabbed 19 times and left to die in the woods of Waukesha County, Wisconsin. In a surreal collision of reality and fantasy then 12-year-olds Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier lured a third friend, Payton Leutner, into the woods where Geyser would then wield the knife in the name of a fictitious internet child-stalker, the Slenderman. The two hour documentary special Slenderman Stabbing: The Untold Story tells the shocking real story that turns the crime on its head with details about the girls’ macabre planning to events that led to the stabbing as well as the arrests, trials and sentencing with never-before-seen evidence including journal entries from Geyser and evidence from her defense team not presented in court. Hear from those directly involved including Waukesha County detectives, first responders, Geyser’s attorney, her parents and her co-conspirator, Anissa Weier in addition to prosecutors, Leutner’s family members and investigative journalists who covered the case. Also interviewed is George Brauchler, prosecutor in the Columbine and Aurora theater shooting cases, who helps answer the complex questions surrounding the story such as how young is too young to be tried as an adult and is mental illness and excuse for such evil acts? Slenderman Stabbing: The Untold Story is produced by Dorsey Pictures.
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