Filmmakers Thom Zimny (Springsteen on Broadway, Elvis Presley: The Searcher, The Gift: The Journey of Johnny Cash) and Oren Moverman (The Messenger) will co-direct the docuseries, with production already underway in Austin, Los Angeles, Maui, Nashville, and New York. Sight Unseen, Moverman’s production company with Julie Lebedev and Eddie Vaisman, serves as producing and financing partner.
The project was developed by Nelson’s longtime manager Mark Rothbaum and Blackbird Presents founder/chief creative officer Keith Wortman. Executive producers for the docuseries include Rothbaum, Wortman, Lebedev, Vaisman and Nelson’s wife Annie Nelson.
“Telling Willie’s story has been a lifelong dream of ours, and we feel privileged to realize this dream with Thom, Oren and Sight Unseen,” Rothbaum and Wortman said in a statement.
“Words like ‘honored,’ ‘excited’ and ‘humbled’ don’t come close to describing the way we feel about being entrusted with telling Willie’s story. And what a story it is! We are celebrating the music, the career, the long road, the family, friends and history,” added Zimny and Moverman. “But, more than anything, we are piecing together a narrative – one never before seen in its entirety – about an extraordinary man with a unique ability to bring people together; folks of all races, orientations, genders, political ideologies and musical leanings. These days, we sure could use the healing powers of Willie Nelson.”
Even with tours halted over the past year Nelson has kept his momentum going. He put out two albums, First Rose of Spring and That’s Life, his second collection of Frank Sinatra covers. He also released the books Willie Nelson’s Letters to America, and Me and Sister Bobbie: True Tales of the Family Band, a memoir with his sister and musician Bobbie Nelson. He was feted by his fellow performers in the A&E music special Willie Nelson: American Outlaw, and led online concert fundraisers for both the Austin Community Foundation, and for Farm Aid (which Nelson first helped launch in 1985). The remainder of 2021 will see Nelson returning to the road for the Outlaw Music Festival tour and leading this year’s Farm Aid festival on Sept. 25 in Hartford, Conn.
No word on when the docuseries will air or on which outlet.