Ahead of its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival this Saturday, April 20th, HBO has picked up the TV rights to Whoopi Goldberg's directorial debut "Moms Mabley: I Got Somethin' to Tell You."
The feature-length doc, which Goldberg also executive produced alongside Tom Leonardis and George Schlatte, looks at the impact and legacy of pioneering comedienne Jackie "Moms" Mabley, combining performance footage, photography and interviews with the likes of Eddie Murphy, Joan Rivers, Sidney Poitier, Kathy Griffin, Harry Belafonte, Bill Cosby, Quincy Jones, Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara. The film focuses on how Mabley broke racial and sexual boundaries as a stand-up, as she performed up until her death in 1975.
"Moms Mabley has been a huge inspiration to me and so many others, but not a lot of folks outside of the comedy world know about her legacy," said Goldberg in the release. "There are a lot of us who wouldn't be working today without pioneers like her. HBO gave me my first break on TV, so it's only fitting that Moms has a home there now."
HBO will air the doc later this year. Goldberg attracted attention for raising funding for the film on Kickstarter. She told Indiewire in June of last year that she'd actually chosen to not make the project under a cable network and to self- and crowdfund it instead because she felt that otherwise "you don't get to do the project the way you want to":
I think with some of the cable folks, they wanted it to be more of her life story, asking questions that weren't of interest to me. So then they said that we're not going to give you the money. I was like, "Ugh, ok." So I started to do it myself. Paying for all of the clips and the material and clearing things and paying the people who do that -- it was a lot. It's different, of course, when HBO is behind you or another cable thing and they throw dough at you. But if you want to do the project the way you want to do it... I know there are a couple of groups that do this but I fell in love with the Kickstarter people because they were so good to so many people.