In the last few years, filmmaker Werner Herzog’s documentary output has garnered more critical acclaim and commercial attention than his narrative efforts. Just last year, “Cave of Forgotten Dreams,” Herzog’s nearly catatonic 3D movie about ancient cave paintings, was a critics’ darling and became the highest-grossing documentary of 2011, earning nearly $4 million at the domestic box office despite offering almost no entertainment or information value whatsoever. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Herzog will be returning to the documentary field with two new limited series – “On Death Row,” a three-part follow-up to his “Death Row” series of interviews with convicted felons awaiting execution, and “Hate in America,” an all-new four-part look at hate crime in America. You might want to make sure your prescriptions for antidepressants are filled before watching either.
According to the report ZDF Enterprises, the international distribution arm of a German public broadcasting company called ZDF, has picked up the world sales rights and will be looking for buyers for the two new series. The material sounds like the kind of gutsy property that HBO just eats up, but they are both missing sexy vampires or clashing warlords, so who knows.
The “On Death Row” docs actually already premiered at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year (read our review here), and unspooled on Investigation Discovery in the spring, so these aren’t “new” per se, except to the worldwide audiences ZDF will be hoping to sell it too. Meanwhile, his “Hate in America” series will give deep portraits of Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, the Unabomber and wily beard spokesperson Ted Kaczynski, and “a suburban housewife turned killer of Mexicans” (what!?!). As part of the series, Herzog will also visit Harrison, Arkansas, dubbed America’s “hate central,” which probably isn’t printed on travel brochures for the town.
Investigation Discovery will also air “Hate In America” with a world premiere date set for March 2013. Herzog, who just realized John Waters was gay after knowing him for 35 years, can next be seen in an acting capacity as the heavy in the Tom Cruise vehicle “Jack Reacher,” adapted from the popular and brilliant Lee Child novels, which opens on December 21st.