REELZ ADDS NEW STORIES CELEBRATING BELOVED STARS OF COMEDY, MUSIC AND MOVIES TO SEPTEMBER 2020 LINEUP
New Specials 'Bernie Mac: In My Own Words', 'Lucille Ball: We Love Lucy' and 'Jimi Hendrix: A Perfect Murder?' Spotlight the King and Queen of Comedy and the Curious Story Behind the Music Icon's Death
Natalie Morales Hosts New Special 'Goodfellas: Behind Closed Doors' About the Blockbuster Mobster Movie Notching its 30th Anniversary
New Specials 'Moonies: Cult of Personality' and 'The Children of God: Cult of Personality' Explore the Real Lives Ensnared by Cunning Cult Leaders
Returning Original Series 'World's Most Evil Killers' Delves Into the Real Story of a Madman Murderer Who Called Himself the 'Angel of Mercy'
(Albuquerque, NM) Tuesday, August 25, 2020 - REELZ today announced its September 2020 lineup with six new original specials and a returning original series highlighted by new stories celebrating the remarkable lives and enduring legacies of Bernie Mac and Lucille Ball. With never before heard audio recordings from Mac himself Bernie Mac: In My Own Words chronicles his rise to superstardom from early family tragedies he endured to his open mic roots and the genius that made him the king of comedy. In Lucille Ball: We Love Lucy see how the legend of laughter cemented her legacy breaking barriers in TV and building an entertainment empire that would transform Hollywood. Jimi Hendrix: A Perfect Murder? explores the enduring mystery surrounding the death of rock icon Jimi Hendrix with a look at his dubious former manager, heavy drug use and the tolls of skyrocketing fame. September premieres include new special Goodfellas: Behind Closed Doors hosted by Natalie Morales about the organized crime movie masterpiece that taught us not to snitch on friends. Two new Cult of Personality specials examine religious groups rife with stories of abuse, authoritarian rule and disturbing demands with stories about the Unification Church founded by Sun Myung Moon whose followers were known as "Moonies" and The Children of God founded by David Berg. Rounding out September premieres is the return of original series World's Most Evil Killers with the true story of a convicted murderer who spent 17 years in prison only to be released and kill again.
"Real stories and real lives take center stage in our September premieres with a mystery that flips the story of Jimi Hendrix's death on its head along with poignant shows about beloved stars Bernie Mac and Lucille Ball who jolted comedy and continue to make generations of us laugh," said Steve Cheskin, SVP of Programming at REELZ. "September also marks 30 years since the revered and often quoted mobster movie Goodfellas hit theaters and we look forward to Natalie Morales showing viewers what made it a gem while Cult of Personality and World's Most Evil Killers present new and unnerving real stories that examine master manipulators and the downright sinister among us."
September premieres begin with back-to-back Cult of Personality specials starting with Moonies: Cult of Personality on Wednesday, September 2 at 8pm ET/ 5pm PT examining the controversial Unification Church founded by Reverend Sun Myung Moon with its millions of followers known as "Moonies" some so devout they consent to mass arranged marriages, renouncing family ties and career obligations to fully comply with church demands. Then at 9pm ET/ 6pm PT the story of a disturbing vision of love unfolds in The Children of God: Cult of Personality. Started as a loose collection of hippies in Huntington Beach California in 1968 called Teens for Christ and later The Children of God the group founded by David Berg would court chaos practicing a method of evangelism called Flirty Fishing using sex to recruit members which devolved into abusing minors. World's Most Evil Killers returns Wednesday, September 2 at 10pm ET/ 7pm PT with the story Andrew Dawson who called himself the "Angel of Mercy" having butchered two of his elderly neighbors and leaving behind pink roses at the crime scenes.
From the haunting stories of true crime to the radiant light of comedic brilliance September premieres continue with the previously announced Bernie Mac: In My Own Words on Sunday, September 6 at 8pm ET/ 5pm PT about the life of the late legend from childhood, family and marriage to his relentless drive to make it big in comedy. The pantheon of laughter is not complete without Lucille Ball. Her raw talent, indomitable spirit and trailblazing work in Hollywood are on full display in the new original special Lucille Ball: We Love Lucy premiering Saturday, September 12 at 8pm ET/ 5pm PT with Carol Burnett, Debra Messing and Lily Tomlin among others reflecting on her towering achievements and potent influence on entertainment. Then on Saturday, September 19 at 8pm ET/ 5pm PT Jimi Hendrix: A Perfect Murder? premieres showing the meteoric rise of the rock superstar cut short by a deadly overdose that a jury ruled suspicious which spiraled into a shocking claim that persists to this day. Wrapping up September premieres is Goodfellas: Behind Closed Doors hosted by Natalie Morales on Saturday, September 26 at 8pm ET/ 5pm PT with a look at the real life roots of the monumental mob movie and its Hollywood dream team including Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Paul Sorvino.
Below are descriptions for September 2020* premieres listed in order of date and time:
Moonies: Cult of Personality - New special premieres Wednesday, September 2 at 8pm ET/ 5pm PT. They are told that they are on a mission to save humanity but in reality the group known as "Moonies" are just building a multi-million dollar empire for Sun Myung Moon the powerful reverend of the Unification Church. At one notable globally televised event in RFK Stadium in Washington D.C. more than 28,000 couples were wed in a massive ceremony presided over by Reverend Sun Myung Moon and his wife. The vast majority of the couples were seeing each other for the first time at the ceremony after being matched by Reverend Moon. Followers are willing to accept the choice from their messiah as the pinnacle of their longtime dedication to the Unification Church which included giving up all their possessions and sacrificing many of their liberties for the movement. Moonies are convinced that they are on a divine mission to change the world and unite humanity under a single faith, their faith. Who was this man they allowed to control their existence? In Moonies: Cult of Personality sharing their first-hand experiences of being members of the Unification Church are K. Gordon Neufeld, Yolande Brener, Lisa Kohn and Mary Jo Downey. Cult specialist Rick Alan Ross gives expert analyses about the dark side of Reverend Sun Myung Moon and his Unification Church. Cult of Personality is produced by KM+BM Media.
The Children of God: Cult of Personality - New special premieres Wednesday, September 2 at 9pm ET/ 6pm PT. It all began so innocently. The son of a 1930s radio evangelist David Berg was nearly 50 years old when he connected with the love generation on the sunny beaches of Southern California. He grew a beard, wore a beret and shades and started his sect. A decade later his followers had missions all over the world, practicing what he preaches but the case of the late founder Berg was a dark affair. His entire belief system and lifestyle were uniquely dubious as was his sheer level of depravity. Berg manipulated his followers in a very singular way living in seclusion from his many followers but communicated almost daily with letters, comics and books. His believers follow his every word even when they are being instructed to practice what Berg calls "The Law of Love" which is no law at all but a license for sexual deviance. Women in the sect were sent out onto the street to sell their bodies to raise money and find converts. Spouse swapping and bigamy are common practice within the sect but a much worse fate was forced upon the children of followers who were subject to sexual abuse. Now years later survivors are still trying to cope with what they endured during their time in this twisted fellowship. Viewers will hear from some of them along with a former Berg disciple. Cult of Personality is produced by KM+BM Media.
World's Most Evil Killers "Angel of Mercy" - New episode premieres Wednesday, September 2 at 10pm ET/ 7pm PT. In July 2010 the body of 66-year-old John David Matthews was found in a bathtub full of water and bleach in his apartment. At first officers believed it was suicide but the autopsy pointed to something sinister. The medical examiner report showed that the victim was stabbed 18 times. Matthews' neighbor Andrew Dawson immediately became a suspect. In 1981 an 18-year-old Dawson brutally murdered 91-year-old Henry Walsh and was sentenced to life in prison but only served 17 years. During their investigation into the Matthews murder police realized another tenant hadn't been seen in days. After forced entry to the apartment of 58-year-old Paul Hancock they found his body in a bathtub full of water and bleach. Dawson was on the run but had left forensic clues at the scene including an imprint of a written confession and a single pink rose. Dawson had dubbed himself the 'Angel of Mercy'. On July 31, 2010 Dawson was finally captured more than 200 miles away where he was found with seven knives in his backpack and in July 2011 he was given a life sentence. We interview former detective Jim Kay, detective Paul Callum and journalist Clifford Birchall. World's Most Evil Killers is produced by Woodcut Media Ltd.
Bernie Mac: In My Own Words - New episode premieres Sunday, September 6 at 8pm ET/ 5pm PT. With never before heard audio recordings from the legendary late comic hear the personal experiences that molded Bernie Mac and are at the heart of his comedy. Born into poverty on the South side of Chicago Bernard McCullough was raised by his mother and grandmother. Inspired by comics Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx who made his mother laugh during trying times, Mac saw the impact comedy had firsthand and was determined to become a comic to help others overcome the kinds of tragedies he endured including the loss of his mother and brother when Mac was just a teenager. Meeting his wife-to-be Rhonda in high school was a turning point in his life as Mac dedicated himself to supporting his family. When he wasn't working Mac was listening to comedy albums for hours until he started performing at open mic nights at local clubs. Mac broke out by winning the Miller Lite Comedy Contest hosted by the Wayans brothers and from there he went on to performing around the country and ultimately won national fame on Def Comedy Jam. Then came his tour de force on the Kings of Comedy followed by international success with The Bernie Mac Show and a string of hit movies. Mac was soaring when he was struck with a still mysterious disease called sarcoidosis which is an inflammatory condition that can stay dormant for decades before becoming terminal. Mac died at the young age of just 50 years old and remains in the pantheon of top comics of the modern era and is still missed and beloved by millions. Sharing their many experiences of life with Mac are his wife Rhonda McCullough, daughter Je'Niece McCullough, fellow comic and friend Cedric the Entertainer and friends Al Vernadum and Ali LeRoi. Bernie Mac: In My Own Words is produced by Espiritus Productions.
Lucille Ball: We Love Lucy - New special premieres Saturday, September 12 at 8pm ET/ 5pm PT. Lucille Ball didn't just make millions of people laugh uproariously. She blazed a whole new path for women in the entertainment industry that still resonates today. Her bravery and willingness to try absolutely anything to elicit a chuckle changed the rules of television and made I Love Lucy a cultural phenomenon that averaged more than 30 million viewers per episode. Lucille Ball: We Love Lucy traces her journey from growing up on the dirt roads of Jamestown New York to stepping under the glittering lights of Hollywood. After moderately successful movie roles she became the Lucy the world knows and loves when I Love Lucy hit the airwaves. And the TV world was never the same. Ball continued to dazzle audiences with her inimitable physical comedy on The Lucy Show and Here's Lucy but she was surprisingly serious off camera with her signature work ethic driving every move. Along with her husband and co-star Desi Arnaz the couple were shrewd enterprising business partners who when not on screen making audiences laugh had formed their own studio in Desilu Productions which was a groundbreaking move at the time. And even after their marriage failed Ball doubled down on her ambitions buying out Arnaz from Desilu Production and making history as the first female head of a major studio. Ball continued to build her entertainment empire with Desilu Productions cranking out hits for TV including introducing the world to the Star Trek and Mission: Impossible mega-franchises. Comedy legends Carol Burnett, Lily Tomlin, Debra Messing and Suzanne Somers share their personal stories of how they were uniquely inspired by Ball's comic genius, and Keith Thibodeaux recalls his experiences on set as the TV son Little Ricky on I Love Lucy. Lucille Ball: We Love Lucy is produced by AMS Pictures.
Jimi Hendrix: A Perfect Murder? - New special premieres Saturday, September 19 at 8pm ET/ 5pm PT. By 1970 Jimi Hendrix was the biggest name in rock music with an unparalleled mastery of the guitar and a force of creativity with his first three albums all released in a two year period enshrined in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. But on September 18, 1970 Hendrix died in a London hospital at just 27 years old. The autopsy report listed overdose of sleeping pills and choking on his own vomit as cause of death. Dr. John Bannister at St. Mary Abbots Hospital tried to save Hendrix and later noted case oddities including pumping "2-3 bottles of red wine" from Hendrix something made even more curious by the autopsy report revealing low levels of alcohol in his blood and urine suggesting the wine entered his body just before death with no time to be absorbed. The autopsy report did not rule out suspicious circumstances. Immediately after rumors spread with one name standing out. Manager Mike Jeffery would become embroiled in the death after it is revealed he was at the core of major financial and personal problems for Hendrix. Sharing with viewers his first-hand experience with his brother is Leon Hendrix who provides insight into the private life of the superstar. Now 50 years later Jimi Hendrix remains a massive cultural influence and the open verdict on his death that does not rule out murder or suicide still elicits intrigue. Jimi Hendrix: A Perfect Murder? reveals the secret history of his manager Mike Jeffery and how he became the prime suspect in the death of Jimi Hendrix. Commentary from Harry Shapiro author of Electric Gypsy, Trixi Sullivan de Linick who was personal assistant to Mike Jeffery during his time managing Hendrix, Kathy Etchingham ex-girlfriend to Hendrix and radio DJ Paul Gambaccini among others. Jimi Hendrix: A Perfect Murder? is produced by Esky Digital.
Goodfellas: Behind Closed Doors - New special premieres Saturday, September 26 at 8pm ET/ 5pm PT. "Never rat on your friends and keep your mouth shut" was the sage advice first delivered 30 years ago when Goodfellas premiered in theaters. It was this maxim at the heart of mafia code that real life mob boss Henry Hill broke thus creating the source material for the masterful Hollywood monument to mob life that remains one of the most watched, quoted and celebrated organized crime movies of all time. Carrying the torch from The Godfather, Goodfellas was based on real events and recounts the rise and spectacular fall of Hill and his connected crew. In Goodfellas: Behind Closed Doors host Natalie Morales shows viewers the real stories behind the blockbuster and pop culture staple on its journey from a New York Times best-selling book to a cast of who's who in Hollywood. Goodfellas: Behind Closed Doors features fresh interviews with actors Paul Sorvino and Christopher Serrone who played a young Henry Hill in the movie as well as Nicholas Pileggi who wrote Goodfellas based on his book Wiseguys, producer Irwin Winkler and interviews with the star-studded cast over the last three decades. Goodfellas: Behind Closed Doors is produced by Peacock Productions.
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