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Kevin Macdonald To Direct Whitney Houston Documentary, And Amazon Sci-Fi Series ‘Strange New Things’

Kevin Macdonald To Direct Whitney Houston Documentary, And Amazon Sci-Fi Series 'Strange New Things'

Try as you might, you can’t pin down director Kevin Macdonald. As a documentary filmmaker, he won an Oscar for “One Day In September,” and has also helmed “Life In A Day” and “Marley” among others. And in features, he’s bounced between true life tales (“The Last King Of Scotland“), swords and sandals epics (“The Eagle“), submarine thrillers (“Black Sea“), and political potboilers (“State Of Play“). And once again, he’s got his hands in a few different pots.

First up, Macdonald will be helming an officially authorized documentary about Whitney Houston. Folks who were involved with “Searching For Sugar Man” and “Amy” will be backing the project, which promises not to sugercoat the legendary singer’s life, which had more than it’s fair share of controversy and tabloid worthy headlines. And crucially, Clive Davis, who discovered Houston and propelled her to fame, will be part of those interviewed for the movie.

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If that wasn’t enough, Macdonald will also be directing the sci-fi series “Strange New Things” for Amazon. Based on the novel “The Book Of Strange New Things” by Michel Faber (“Under The Skin“), the fascinating premise follows a pastor who goes on a galactic missionary assignment, only to discover his wife losing her faith back on Earth as a series of terrible events occur. Here’s the book synopsis: 

It begins with Peter, a devoted man of faith, as he is called to the mission of a lifetime, one that takes him galaxies away from his wife, Bea. Peter becomes immersed in the mysteries of an astonishing new environment, overseen by an enigmatic corporation known only as USIC.   His work introduces him to a seemingly friendly native population struggling with a dangerous illness and hungry for Peter’s teachings—his Bible is their “book of strange new things.” But Peter is rattled when Bea’s letters from home become increasingly desperate: typhoons and earthquakes are devastating whole countries, and governments are crumbling.  Bea’s faith, once the guiding light of their lives, begins to falter.  
Suddenly, a separation measured by an otherworldly distance, and defined both by one newly discovered world and another in a state of collapse, is threatened by an ever-widening gulf that is much less quantifiable.  While Peter is reconciling the needs of his congregation with the desires of his strange employer, Bea is struggling for survival.  Their trials lay bare a profound meditation on faith, love tested beyond endurance, and our responsibility to those closest to us. 

Matt Charman (“Bridge Of Spies,” “Suite Francaise“) is writing the script, and even better, Brian Eno will be scoring the series (damn). The ten-episode first season is expected to go into production at the end of the year, and hope is that it will be a recurring show. Certainly, it’s one that already has my attention. [Cineuropa/Deadline]

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