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Netflix Launches Documentaries on Joan Didion, Gay Talese

Two original documentaries from Netflix, Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold and Voyeur, about journalist Gay Talese, will premiere at the 55th New York Film Festival, and launch on the streaming service later this year.

The documentary about the writer Didion is directed by Griffin Dunne, her nephew. He speaks with Didion about the eras she covered and the life she’s lived, including partying with Janis Joplin, hanging out with Jim Morrison and cooking dinner for one of Charles Manson’s women for a magazine story. Didion depicts the literature scene in New York in the 1950s and early ’60s, when she wrote for Vogue; her return to her home state of California for two decades; the writing of her books, including Slouching Towards Bethlehem and The White Album; her film scripts, including The Panic in Needle Park; and her marriage to writer John Gregory Dunne.

“How does one capture such a celebrated and prolific author while delivering something new for audiences to engage with?” asked Lisa Nishimura, Netflix VP of original documentaries. “Griffin does a superb job of bringing us into intimate, one on one conversations with his ‘Aunt Joan’, examining how her struggle shaped her work, and how her work helped shape American culture.”

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The documentary is produced by Griffin Dunne, Mary Recine and Annabelle Dunne. 

“It is a tremendous honor to have the opportunity to convey the life and work of my aunt, and literary icon,” said Griffin Dunne. “This documentary is a true labor of love and to partner with Netflix, who will help bring this to a global audience, is more than I could have hoped for when I started on this over five years ago.”

Voyeur follows the pioneering journalist Gay Talese as he reports one of the most controversial stories of his career: a portrait of Colorado motel owner, Gerald Foos, who secretly watched his guests with the aid of specially designed ceiling vents, and kept journals of their most private moments.

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"Directors Myles Kane and Josh Koury deftly catapult us into one of the most highly complex and wily relationships between writer and subject, where the unremitting pursuit of the ultimate scoop and the ever-shifting memory of a serial voyeur collide and create an entirely new truth,” said Nishimura. “Kane and Koury have created an endlessly fascinating exploration of desire, control and the stories we tell ourselves.”

Voyeur is a Netflix original documentary, in association with Impact Partners. It is produced by Brooklyn Underground Films in association with Chicago Media Project and Public Record.

“It's an incredible honor to be able to add the next chapter in this fascinating story,” said Kane and Koury. “NYFF is the perfect place to premiere this film about legendary New York journalist Gay Talese. And we're very excited to release Voyeur globally with Netflix, to many new curious eyes."

Michael Malone
Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.