August 22, 2006

Dixie Chicks documentary could be election issue

By Gregg Goldstein

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - The politically charged
documentary "Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing" has been picked up
for worldwide distribution by the Weinstein Co.

A release is tentatively scheduled for the fall, possibly
right before the November elections.

The film revolves around the aftermath of singer Natalie
Maines' statement at a 2003 London concert, where she said,
"Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United
States is from Texas."

It chronicles death threats, political attacks and radio
boycotts against the country trio, and that could make the film
a political hot potato as well as potential ammo should
longtime Democratic party supporter Harvey Weinstein become
involved in the fall political campaigns.

Asked why she and co-director/producer Barbara Kopple chose
to go with the Weinstein Co., Cecilia Peck said, "They made a
great offer," though no figures were disclosed. Such companies
as Focus Features and Picturehouse expressed interest in the
documentary a few months ago.

Sources involved in the negotiations said some parties in
the documentary's camp wanted to screen the entire film for
several indie distributors, while others only wanted a
15-minute highlight reel to be shown. Eventually only two final
bidders were allowed to see a complete rough cut of the film:
the Weinstein Co. and Sony Pictures Classics, a sister company
of the Dixie Chicks' Columbia Records label.

"I am extremely proud to be associated with this film
because it's not only an outstanding and creative piece of
work, but it also exposes our responsibility as Americans to
confront our fundamental right to freedom of speech," Weinstein

Kopple said plans for a grassroots promotional campaign are
still being discussed, and Peck said the film is likely to be a
hot topic in the approaching elections. "It deals with freedom
of speech, censorship and other important issues," Kopple said.
"It looks at the cost of standing up for what you believe in."

The documentary still is being completed ahead of its world
premiere at next month's Toronto International Film Festival.

In addition to chronicling the lives of Maines and
bandmates Martie Maguire and Emily Robison, Kopple said the
documentary features clips from 15 of the Dixie Chicks songs
and a new one written especially for the film, though no
soundtrack is planned. "You definitely feel like you're in the
front row of a Dixie Chicks concert," Peck said.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter