Netflix forms “storytelling partnership” with Barack and Michelle Obama
James R | On 21, May 2018
President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama have entered into a multi-year agreement with Netflix to produce films and TV series.
The Obamas will produce a diverse mix of content, including the potential for scripted series, unscripted series, docu-series, documentaries and features.
“One of the simple joys of our time in public service was getting to meet so many fascinating people from all walks of life, and to help them share their experiences with a wider audience,” says President Obama. “That’s why Michelle and I are so excited to partner with Netflix – we hope to cultivate and curate the talented, inspiring, creative voices who are able to promote greater empathy and understanding between peoples, and help them share their stories with the entire world.”
“Barack and I have always believed in the power of storytelling to inspire us, to make us think differently about the world around us, and to help us open our minds and hearts to others,” adds Mrs. Obama. “Netflix’s unparalleled service is a natural fit for the kinds of stories we want to share, and we look forward to starting this exciting new partnership.”
The Obamas have established Higher Ground Productions as the entity under which they will produce content for Netflix.
“Barack and Michelle Obama are among the world’s most respected and highly-recognized public figures and are uniquely positioned to discover and highlight stories of people who make a difference in their communities and strive to change the world for the better,” comments Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos. “We are incredibly proud they have chosen to make Netflix the home for their formidable storytelling abilities.”
The agreement follows rumours about a potential partnership earlier this year – and Barack Obama’s appearance on David Letterman’s Netflix talk show, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, which was his first talk show interview since leaving the Oval Office.
Our review of the interview hailed it as a testament to “the absorbing power of two people talking” and “a hugely moving reminder of just how inspiring it is to sit back and listen to Barack Obama talk”.
“America, as he’s often said before, isn’t a perfect country, but a work in progress – and for one brief, peaceful hour, he gives you a sense of hope once again,” our review continued.
Barack and Michelle Obama “in talks” for Netflix series
10th March 2018
With The West Wing but a distant memory, Kiefer Sutherland in Designated Survivor is the closest thing we have to a likeable US President on our screens – after all, it’s been a long time we had Barack Obama on the news every night beamed over from the White House. But hope may be on the horizon, as the New York Times reports that Barack and Michelle Obama are in talks with Netflix to produce shows for the streaming service.
Some politicians hit the dinner speech circuit. Others release memoirs. Obama? He’s going to Netflix. The former President is no stranger to the streaming service, after appearing on David Letterman’s talk show for the site, marking his first talk show interview since leaving the Oval Office. Now, he and the former First Lady are reportedly in negotiations to reunite with the service.
Nothing is known about what form any series would take – suggestions below, please – although reports say that it won’t be a platform directly criticising Trump, and there’s no idea on the terms of any deal, and what kind of financial amount would be involved, if any at all. But what we do know is that it would give the Obamas a platform reaching 118 million people worldwide – an effective riposte to the mainstream airwaves of Fox News.
The New York Times suggests that it could be a show that focuses on uplifting stories, or that it might see Obama moderate debates on such issues as climate change and immigration. What it would do, though, is build upon the President’s existing reach on social media, with more than 100 million Twitter followers – far more than Donald Trump’s 48.8 million.
Speaking to the BBC, Eric Schultz, a senior adviser to Obama, did not confirm the talks but did comment on the idea: “President and Mrs Obama have always believed in the power of storytelling to inspire. Throughout their lives, they have lifted up stories of people whose efforts to make a difference are quietly changing the world for the better. As they consider their future personal plans, they continue to explore new ways to help others tell and share their stories.”