Spike Lee-directed version of David Byrne's American Utopia lands HBO debut
The Broadway show was set to make a comeback to the stage this fall, but plans seem in flux as theaters remain closed.
On Tuesday, the network announced a filmed version of the production, directed by BlacKkKlansman and Da 5 Bloods helmer Spike Lee, will debut later this year.
"Spike and I have crossed paths many times over the years, obviously I’m a huge fan and now finally here was an opportunity for us to work together,” Byrne said in a statement. “I am absolutely thrilled with the result. The Broadway show was a wonderful challenge as well as an opportunity — it was a joy to perform and, well, best to let the quotes speak for themselves. Thrilled that this show and the subjects it addresses will now reach a wider audience."
"It is my honor and privilege that my art brother, Mr. David Byrne, asked me to join him in concert, to invite me into his magnificent world of American Utopia,” Lee added in his own statement. “And dat's da ‘once in a lifetime’ truth, Ruth. Ya-dig? Sho-nuff. Peace and love. Be safe.”
Lee previously appeared alongside New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio and the cast of To Kill a Mockingbird to emcee the event that saw the Aaron Sorkin-penned adaptation become the first Broadway production to perform in Madison Square Garden.
American Utopia, which ran from October 2019-February 2020 at Broadway’s Hudson Theater, starred Byrne and 11 international musical artists as they performed selections from Byrne's 2018 album, songs from his time with Talking Heads, and songs from his solo career.
The production was set to return to Broadway for another run this fall from Sept. 18, 2020-Jan. 17, 2021. However, plans for bringing back Broadway theaters remain questionable as New York continues to work towards Phase 2 of the city's reopening plans. Theaters will remain closed until at least Sept. 6.
Byrne wrote about his feelings on the pandemic crisis in an essay first published by the Wall Street Journal on March 27 and later on the singer's Reasons to Be Cheerful online magazine. “It’s ironic that as the pandemic forces us into our separate corners, it’s also showing us how intricately we are all connected,” Byrne wrote. “It’s revealing the many ways that our lives intersect almost without our noticing. And it’s showing us just how tenuous our existence becomes when we try to abandon those connections and distance from one another. Health care, housing, race, inequality, the climate — we’re all in the same leaky boat."