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Martin Scorsese to Direct Documentary About New York Dolls Frontman

Martin Scorsese will direct an upcoming documentary about influential hard rock musician David Johansen.

Martin Scorsese'The Irishman' film premiere, Arrivals, TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, USA - 24 Oct 2019

Martin Scorsese

Rob Latour/Shutterstock

Martin Scorsese will lend his directorial talents to a new feature documentary that centers on David Johansen, the frontman of the hard rock band New York Dolls.

Showtime Documentary Films announced the documentary Tuesday morning. David Tedeschi will co-direct with Scorsese, and Scorsese and Sikelia Productions will executive produce with Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Imagine Documentaries.

Here’s Showtime’s synopsis for the unnamed feature: The film will reveal the many faces of Johansen in an extraordinarily intimate feature documentary. Growing up on Staten Island, Johansen landed in New York’s East Village in the late 1960s; a 16-year-old dropped into the epicenter of the counter-cultural revolution in music, theatre, fashion, art, writing, and social change – a seismic moment that still reverberates today.

Johansen’s musical career started in the 1970s as lead singer for the punk/glam pioneers the New York Dolls, continued as he helped to usher in the swing revival as Buster Poindexter in the 1980s and dug deep into the blues with the Harry Smiths in the 1990s.

Scorsese praised Johansen’s music and noted that he has enjoyed the New York Dolls’ music as far back as when he was working on 1973’s “Mean Streets,” one of the director’s earliest films.

“I’ve known David Johansen for decades, and his music has been a touchstone ever since I listened to the Dolls when I was making ‘Mean Streets,’” Scorsese said in a statement. “Then and now, David’s music captures the energy and excitement of New York City. I often see him perform, and over the years I’ve gotten to know the depth of his musical inspirations. After seeing his show last year at the Café Carlyle, I knew I had to film it because it was so extraordinary to see the evolution of his life and his musical talent in such an intimate setting. For me, the show captured the true emotional potential of a live musical experience.”

Scorsese has been plenty busy since “The Irishman” wowed Netflix subscribers, critics, and cinema buffs in general in late 2019. Apple recently boarded the director’s upcoming “Killers of the Flower Moon,” which reunites Scorsese with Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert de Niro, as financier in May. Paramount is still slated to distribute the film, which is adapted from the 2017 true crime book of the same name and centers on members of an Oklahoma Native American tribe whose murders in the 1920s sparked a major federal investigation.

Given Hollywood’s ongoing production delays the release of Scorsese’s unnamed New York Dolls documentary and “Killers of the Flower Moon” are likely quite some time away. Thankfully, for diehard fans of the director Scorsese recently directed a short film about his musings during the pandemic.

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