“Empire” creator Lee Daniels has signed on to direct “The Apollo Theater Film Project,” a documentary that chronicles the history of New York’s famed Apollo Theater.
The authorized documentary will capture the Apollo’s storied impact in shaping America’s music nationally; as well as being cultural landscape for New York. Born out of the Harlem Renaissance, the Apollo became the most-prized venue on the “Chitlin’ Circuit” during the time of racial segregation in the U.S. — the theater was the Harlem community’s answer to Carnegie Hall.
The movie, done in conjunction with White Horse Pictures’ Nigel Sinclair and Jeanne Elfant Festa, will also feature footage and memories of the Harlem-based theater from those who have visited the venue for concerts or events.
The Oscar-nominated Daniels and the Apollo’s President and CEO Jonelle Procope have collectively petitioned the public and concertgoers to submit images, memorabilia, personal concert videos and other artifacts they have collected from the Apollo over the more than 80 years it has been open.
“We are asking members of the community who have been to the Apollo, who may have parents or grandparents or other family members or friends who have done so, to help us find any material — audience footage, photographs, or other memories that we can use in our documentary film,” Daniels and Procope said in announcing the project. “We have established a website for anyone who wants to submit. We will, of course, respect everybody’s ownership of their property.”
In addition to the inclusion of home video and concert footage, Universal Music Group will curate the music for “The Apollo Theater Film Project.”
Known as the place “where stars are born and legends are made,” iconic music artists like Michael Jackson, Ella Fitzgerald, Marvin Gaye, Billie Holliday, Stevie Wonder and Gladys Knight have all performed at the theater. For 21 seasons from 1987 until 2008, the Apollo Theater was able to reach homes all over America with its syndicated series, “It’s Showtime at the Apollo.”
In addition to directing this documentary and preparing for “Empire” to return on March 30, 2016; Daniels is also in production on a second drama for Fox called “Star.”