[12/03/10 - 08:07 AM]
HBO2 Documentary "Top Ten Monks" Debuts Dec. 22
The film track the story of "a small group of Cistercian monks in Austria made music history recently when their album of Gregorian chant climbed England's pop charts."

[via press release from HBO]


They rise at 4:30 every morning. They pray more than six hours a day. They've devoted their lives to God. And they're pop stars.

A small group of Cistercian monks in Austria made music history recently when their album of Gregorian chant climbed England's pop charts, landing in the Top Ten for two months and selling more than a million copies worldwide. Directed by Dana Perry (HBO's "Boy Interrupted"), the documentary TOP TEN MONKS takes an unprecedented look at the daily lives of these unlikely celebrities, who rarely allow cameras inside their walls, when it debuts WEDNESDAY, DEC. 22 (8:00-8:30 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO2.

Other HBO2 playdates: Dec. 25 (6:30 p.m.) and Jan. 2 (8:00 a.m.), 7 (6:00 a.m.), 19 (9:00 p.m.), 22 (8:00 a.m.) and 31 (11:30 a.m.)

The story of the monks' success began when Universal Music noticed an increase in back catalogue sales of Gregorian chant, and placed ads in notable Catholic newspapers searching for the most beautiful sacred voices. Father Karl of Stift Heiligenkreuz Abbey, a 12th-century monastery near Vienna, sent the company a link to a website and a YouTube video of the monks' singing, which Tom Lewis, artist development manager at Universal, calls "some of the most beautiful Gregorian chant we heard."

Sung in Latin, the official language of the Roman Catholic Church, Gregorian chant is composed in a free musical rhythm that rises and falls in accord with the inner meaning of each piece. The peaceful and otherworldly - to some ears "eerie" - tonality of Gregorian chant, and its free rhythm, make it the perfect musical form for unfolding the meaning of the sacred texts that are sung in it.

While a monk's primary activity is prayer, which the monks of Stift Heiligenkreuz have engaged in for 900 years, TOP TEN MONKS dives deeply into their everyday lives, dispelling misconceptions about life in a monastery. Rather than a place of constriction and monotony, Stift Heiligenkreuz Abbey enables the monks to strive for lives that are open and calm, healthy and happy. These monks are fully engaged in the modern world, using technologies such as cell phones and the Internet, as well as running a number of businesses, including a gas station and a sawmill.

Their sudden celebrity finds them in the headlines and on TV, but the monks are not inspired by money or fame, believing that for many people, Gregorian chant are an escape from and an answer to the pressures of modern life. Father Karl explains, "The music not only calms, it also gives strength. It has an emotional dimension. It is joy and fear, praise and mourning, jubilation and thanksgiving." He also believes that many people "find it interesting, cool and exotic when they see monks in long white robes, praying together and singing in Latin."

Explaining the monks' popularity, Tom Lewis says, "There's a lot of people out there whose musical appetites aren't necessarily being served by popular culture. And when something fresh comes along, the appetite for it is incredibly strong."

Dana Perry is a noted documentary filmmaker whose HBO documentary "Boy Interrupted" premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. She also executive produced the four-part documentary series "Sex: The Revolution." With husband and partner Hart Perry, she previously produced and directed "The Drug Years" (2006), a four-hour documentary exploration of illicit drugs and popular culture. Nominated for two IDA Awards and a Prism Award, "The Drug Years" received a Cine Golden Eagle, Telly Award and High Times "Stony" Award, and was exhibited at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival and the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival.

TOP TEN MONKS is a Perry Films Production; produced and directed by Dana Perry; director of photography, Hart Perry; original score, Michael Bacon; senior editor, Jennifer McGarrity; editor, Alyse Ardell Spiegel. For HBO: senior producer, Nancy Abraham; executive producer, Sheila Nevins.

  [december 2010]  

(series past and present)
(series in development)
(tv movies and mini-series)

[12/01/15 - 12:13 PM]
Hollywood's A-List Heads to Ovation TV for No-Holds-Barred Interview Show, "Los Angeles Times' The Envelope"
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[12/01/15 - 12:10 PM]
truTV Expands Scripted Slate with Pre-Launch Renewal of "Those Who Can't," And Begins Development on Three New Scripted Projects
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[12/01/15 - 11:46 AM]
"War & Peace" Reimagined for a New Generation Premieres on Lifetime, A&E and History January 18
The epic features an award-winning cast including Paul Dano, Lily James, James Norton, Jim Broadbent, Gillian Anderson and others.

[12/01/15 - 10:49 AM]
TV One Celebrates Eddie Murphy in PBS' "18th Annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor" Special This Friday, December 4 at 8 P.M. ET
Originally broadcast on PBS stations nationwide, the special taped at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and features star-studded appearances by leading entertainers and comedians.

[12/01/15 - 10:13 AM]
Video: Starz Releases First Look at "Outlander" Season Two
The Season Two teaser is the first release for Starz' 25 Days of #OutlanderOfferings.

[12/01/15 - 10:07 AM]
"Behind the Magic: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" to Air on ABC, Sunday, December 13
Ginnifer Goodwin narrates the one-hour special, which explores the moment where folklore met filmmaking.

[12/01/15 - 09:46 AM]
An All-New "The Biggest Loser" Returns January 4 with a New Host, Theme, Logo, Gym and Format and Eight Compelling Contestant Teams of Two
Dolvett Quince and Jen Widerstrom return to train eight contestant teams of two, all with compelling stories.

[12/01/15 - 08:35 AM]
Monday's Broadcast Ratings: NBC Tops Charts with "The Voice," "Superstore"
The Peacock wins the night in both total viewers and adults 18-49 by wide margins.

[12/01/15 - 08:06 AM]
Video: Netflix Presents "A Very Murray Christmas"
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[12/01/15 - 07:41 AM]
"Bolshoi Babylon," An Unprecedented Inside Look at the Famed Russian Ballet Company in the Wake of Scandal, Debuts Dec. 21 on HBO
The film was previously slated to debut the week prior on Monday, December 14.

[12/01/15 - 07:35 AM]
Nickelodeon Presents Series Finale of Landmark "Nick News with Linda Ellerbee," Commemorating 25 Years on Air, Tuesday, Dec. 15, at 8PM (ET/PT)
Ellerbee, who has announced her retirement, will highlight some of Nick News' most poignant episodes and discussions, while presenting the story and philosophy behind the award-winning series.

[12/01/15 - 07:30 AM]
Juanes, Seth MacFarlane and Trisha Yearwood Added to Lineup for "Sinatra 100 - An All-Star Grammy Concert," Sunday, Dec. 6 on CBS
They join previously announced performers Tony Bennett, Garth Brooks, Zac Brown, Harry Connick, Jr., Celine Dion, Alicia Keys, Lady Gaga, John Legend, Adam Levine, Carrie Underwood and Usher.

[12/01/15 - 07:03 AM]
Luke Bryan, Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth, and Demi Lovato to Perform in Times Square During "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2016"
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[12/01/15 - 06:51 AM]
Video: MTV Reveals Stunning Opening Title Sequence for "The Shannara Chronicles"
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[12/01/15 - 06:07 AM]
Bravo Media Announces "The Lookbook," A New Premier Digital Shopping Experience
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