[09/18/13 - 12:31 PM]
Documentary "Life According to Sam," the Inspiring Story of a Young Man and His Family Battling a Rare Premature Aging Disease, Debuts Oct. 21, Exclusively on HBO
Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine directed and produced the film, part of HBO Documentary Films' weekly series this fall.

[via press release from HBO]


In 1998, Dr. Leslie Gordon and Dr. Scott Berns learned that their two-year-old son, Sam, had progeria, a progressive aging disorder so rare that fewer than 250 children in the world had it at the time. Little was known about the disease, and all children with progeria died of heart attack or stroke at an average age of 13. Told there was no treatment or cure, they refused to accept that as the final verdict.

Directed and produced by Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine (the Oscar(R)-winning "Inocente"), LIFE ACCORDING TO SAM chronicles one courageous family's relentless pursuit of a treatment and a cure, even as his parents empower their son to enjoy his life to the fullest. The inspiring documentary debuts MONDAY, OCT. 21 (9:00-10:45 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO.

Other HBO playdates: Oct. 21 (5:25 a.m.), 24 (1:30 p.m.), 27 (9:00 a.m.) and 29 (11:45 a.m.)

HBO2 playdate: Oct. 23 (8:00 p.m.)

HBO Documentary Films presents a weekly series this fall, debuting provocative new specials every Monday from Oct. 7 through Dec. 9. Other October films include: "Valentine Road" (Oct. 7); "Mondays at Racine" (Oct. 14); "Redemption" (Oct. 14); "Open Heart" (Oct. 14); and "Seduced and Abandoned" (Oct. 28).

LIFE ACCORDING TO SAM explores the remarkable world of Sam Berns and his family. Now a high-school junior about to turn 17, Sam embraces his circumstances with admirable courage, showing wisdom beyond his years. "I didn't put myself in front of you to have you feel bad for me," he says at the beginning of the film. "I put myself in front of you to let you know you don't need to feel bad for me. I want you to know me. This is my life, and progeria is part of it. It's not a major part of it, but it is part of it."

An excellent student, he excels at music, enjoys friendships and is an avid sports fan. "You are handed something, and what you do with it is what matters, and that's what Sam is doing," says his mother. "I'm impressed continually by him."

When Sam was diagnosed with progeria, Leslie was a resident intern. With the support of her husband, Scott, a pediatric ER doctor, and the rest of her family, she devoted herself and her career to studying the disease. In fewer than four years, they established The Progeria Research Foundation (PRF), headed by Leslie's sister, Audrey Gordon, raising $1.25 million towards identifying the gene that causes it.

Everyone's body contains the protein progerin, which ages some aspects of the body, such as the cardiovascular system, but not all. Though they are mentally and emotionally the same age as their peers, kids with progeria possess an abnormal amount of progerin, so gaining a better understanding of how the disease works could lead to breakthroughs in treating heart disease and aging in the general population.

After identifying the gene, PRF-funded researchers found the first potential treatment using experimental drugs called farnesyl transferase inhibitors (FTIs). Leslie then assembled a team of doctors, scientists and statisticians, and in 2007 launched the first progeria drug trial with the FTI lonafarnib, involving 28 children, including Sam, from 16 countries.

The two-year trial brought participants to Boston three times a year for a battery of tests to gauge whether this experimental drug had any measurable effect. Normally, drug trials are conducted on hundreds or thousands of patients, with half receiving a placebo, or no medicine, and half receiving the drug. Due to the small sample size of her study, Leslie's team made the crucial ethical decision to give all the children the drug.

LIFE ACCORDING TO SAM also spotlights some of the other children in the trial, including: Sumaira, 11, from Pakistan; Priya, 18, from India; Niccolo, 8, and Sammy, 13, from Italy; Megan, 9, from Wisconsin; and Devin, 13, from Canada. "We're here in a position where we have to do everything we can to help them," says Leslie. "I think what is driving this is love for Sam, love for the other children."

The trials are arduous, as the children undergo more than 100 tests over five days at Boston Children's Hospital, and Sam feels isolated and separated from many of the things that give him his identity. Despite all the needles he must endure, his least favorite part is the medical photography, because it makes him feel like a specimen. Still, he and the other children maintain grace through it all.

Most of the subjects are living on borrowed time, but Leslie and her team must play a waiting game. As the two-year trial concludes, they race to prepare their data and submit the results to a peer-reviewed journal, then hope it is accepted for publication. As Leslie explains in the film, "If they [the scientific journal] like it, it gets published in an objective way, that says, �Yes, this is a drug that has potential to treat progeria.' And that is a crucial step in asking the FDA for drug approval."

Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine's documentary "Inocente" won the Oscar(R) for Best Documentary Short Subject earlier this year. Three-time Emmy(R) winners, the Fines' Oscar(R)-nominated "War/Dance" premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, winning the festival award for Best Documentary Direction.

For more information, visit: Facebook: facebook.com/hbodocs; Twitter: @HBODocs #LifeAccordingToSam.

LIFE ACCORDING TO SAM was directed and produced by Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine; producer, Miriam Weintraub; editor, Jeff Consiglio; director of photography, Sean Fine; associate producer, Anne Marler; composer, Keegan DeWitt; sound recordist, Pablo Durana. For HBO: senior producer, Nancy Abraham; executive producer, Sheila Nevins.

  [september 2013]  

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

[10/21/16 - 02:02 PM]
NLCS Game 5 Is Second Most-Watched Telecast in FS1 History
FOX Sports spins the numbers for Thursday, October 20.

[10/21/16 - 12:08 PM]
Freeform Brings Fan Favorite "Stitchers" and New Original Sci-Fi Series "Beyond" to Stan Lee's L.A. Comic Con on October 29 and 30
"Stitchers" co-stars Ritesh Rajan, Damon Dayoub and Sarah Davenport are among those scheduled to appear.

[10/21/16 - 10:05 AM]
Freeform's Annual "Countdown to 25 Days of Christmas" Starts on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 24
Said offerings include the premiere "The Odd Life of Timothy Green," "Boxtrolls," and the network premiere of the fourth installment of the hit "Cinderella Story" franchise, "A Cinderella Story: If the Shoe Fits."

[10/21/16 - 10:04 AM]
Freeform's Funday Programming Event Begins November 12 and Continues Through November 13
Highlights include the network premieres of "Planes: Fire & Rescue," "How to Train Your Dragon" and "Shrek Forever After."

[10/21/16 - 10:03 AM]
"Madonna: Rebel Heart Tour" to Premiere on Showtime(R) on December 9 at 9 PM ET/PT
The film is co-directed by Danny B. Tull and Nathan Rissman, both of whom have worked extensively with Madonna on her feature films and tour movies.

[10/21/16 - 09:55 AM]
David Blaine Is Back With an Extraordinary Special, "David Blaine: Beyond Magic," Airing Tuesday, November 15, on ABC
Following his critically acclaimed ratings smash "David Blaine: Real or Magic," Blaine returns with his most revealing performance yet.

[10/21/16 - 09:35 AM]
Video: Netflix's "Haters Back Off!" Star Miranda Sings Shares Some of Her Favorite Things
Based on the character created by Colleen Ballinger, "Haters Back Off!" delves into the oddball family life of Miranda Sings.

[10/21/16 - 09:31 AM]
Video: Netflix Unveils The Ivory Game Trailer and Poster
From executive producer Leonardo DiCaprio, The Ivory Game is an epic documentary feature that goes undercover into the dark and sinister underbelly of ivory trafficking.

[10/21/16 - 09:29 AM]
Premiere Date Change - A&E Network Will Now Air Original Docu-Series "The Killing Season" on November 12
The newcomer will now roll out with back-to-back episodes one week later than previously announced.

[10/21/16 - 09:24 AM]
No One Can Hear You Scream: Investigation Discovery's All-New Series "Dead Silent" Premieres Tuesday, October 25 at 9/8C
In the six-part series, myth, urban legend, and horror movie dread collide to showcase real-life, dark and twisted tales too frightening to be imaginary.

[10/21/16 - 09:02 AM]
Oxygen Media Strikes Again with New True Crime Series "Killision Course" Premiering Saturday, November 5th at 9PM ET/PT
The four-episode, genre breaking series, recreates true stories of murder connecting the victim, accomplice and killer, on a joy ride of suspense, betrayal and obsession.

[10/21/16 - 08:47 AM]
Thursday's Broadcast Ratings: CBS Holds Off Competition with NFL
The Eye wins the night in both total viewers and adults 18-49.

[10/20/16 - 03:55 PM]
Oxygen Media Tests the Bonds of Friendship When New Competition Series "The Battle of the Ex-Besties" Premieres Tuesday, December 6 at 11PM ET/PT
Hosted by Sibley Scoles, the series follows fourteen former BFFs who are forced to confront - and hopefully forget - past differences in order to win a life-changing $100,000 grand prize.

[10/20/16 - 01:49 PM]
Investigation Discovery Delivers Nearly One Million Viewers for World Television Premiere of "Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four"
Investigation Discovery further spins the numbers for Saturday, October 15.

[10/20/16 - 01:04 PM]
Investigation Discovery Looks at When Happily Ever After Goes Horribly Wrong in All-New Series "Married with Secrets"
The new eight-part series premieres Tuesday, October 25 at 10:00/9:00c.