Briefs: CNN to air Jimmy Carter music doc; Amazon picks up Stacey Abrams voting rights doc; Atlanta Press Club Awards of Excellence 2020 winners

CNN Films has picked up the North American broadcast rights to the documentary “Jimmy Carter Rock & Roll President.”

The documentary was originally going to air during the Tribeca Film Festival in April, but COVID-19 shut that down.

A date has not yet been set on when CNN will air the movie.

Over the decades, there has been no shortage of angles to look at the ex-president from Plains, Georgia. But this documentary takes an unusual look at how music and musicians played a role in his rise from Georgia governor to the White House in 1976.

Among those who provide commentary in the doc include Willie Nelson, Bono, Bob Dylan, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Jimmy Buffett, Roseanne Cash, Chuck Leavell, Paul Simon, Andrew Young, and Madeleine Albright. There will also be archival performances by Buffett, Nelson and others.

Carter, in a press release, said he said he watched the film and was impressed: “It was entertaining and emotional for all of us. The film exceeded my expectations in every way. I’m thrilled that ‘Rock & Roll President’ will reach a broad audience on CNN. Despite the difficult times we are in, the film highlights my personal belief that we should remain hopeful and that music is a powerful source of hope in trying times.”

Chris Farrell and Mary Wharton, executive producers, said they wanted people to see Carter “in a different light,” according to the release. “Being able to share the film with millions of Americans through this deal with CNN Films is a significant step towards achieving that goal... We hope that CNN viewers will come away with a new appreciation for not only his moral courage and leadership, but also the fact that he is pretty cool.”


Credit: staff

Credit: staff

Amazon Studios has purchased the worldwide rights for a still untitled documentary about voting rights featuring Stacey Abrams, who ran for governor in Georgia in 2018 and narrowly lost.

After a theatrical run, the film will be available on Amazon Prime Video later this year. Abrams, who is currently doing the media rounds to promote her latest book "Our Time Is Now," is a producer along with Emmy-winning filmmaker Liz Garbus, Dan Cogan and Lisa Cortés. She also started a non-profit called Fair Fight to battle what she sees as rampant voter suppression efforts.

“Raising the alarm about voter suppression is critical to the integrity of our democracy,” Abrams said in a press release. “The failure of state leaders in Georgia and other states across the country to protect the rights of voters, as seen in the 2018 election and 2020 primaries, must be exposed and it must be stopped... As the 2020 election approaches, this documentary will help voters realize the power of their voices, and it will inspire them to overcome the obstacles of voter suppression.”


Credit: Sanmarian McClain (center-left) is comforted in her grief after losing her daughter to gunfire Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019. McClainÕs 18-year old daughter died after a stray bullet flew into her southwest Atlanta home and hit her as she slept. CR: John Spink

Credit: Sanmarian McClain (center-left) is comforted in her grief after losing her daughter to gunfire Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019. McClainÕs 18-year old daughter died after a stray bullet flew into her southwest Atlanta home and hit her as she slept. CR: John Spink

The Atlanta Press Club has released the list of winners for its annual 2019 Awards of Excellence for the best journalism in the Atlanta area last year.

Jim Galloway, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution political columnist, received the annual Impact Award for his decades of contributions to journalism in Atlanta.

Tamar Hallerman, who covers public policy for the AJC, and Stephen Fowler, who covers state and local politics for Georgia Public Broadcasting, tied for the Rising Star award for journalists under the age of 30.

Best digital news story was written by Max Blau in The Bitter Southerner about how the Georgia Dome destroyed a neighborhood. James Swift of the Daily Tribune in Cartersville won for best print story regarding substance abuse among military veterans.

There was a tie for best broadcast story. Neima Abdulahi and Erin Peterson teamed up at 11Alive (WXIA-TV) for a long-form piece on the Atlanta Child Murders.

Nick Valencia out of the Atlanta bureau of CNN did a piece on how border patrol agents tried to shame a migrant by having him hold a sign "I like men."

Best radio piece went to Fowler of GPB for a story about Georgia removing 313,000 Georgians from voter rolls by the end of 2019.

There was a tie for best documentary between Michelle Birnbaum of The Weather Channel for  "Race to Save the Planet" and Rose Scott of 90.1/WABE-FM for "Gridlocked: What's Moving Atlanta."

Hank Klibanoff, former AJC editor and current Emory University professor, won for best podcast with "Buried Truths."

John Spink of the AJC took home the prize again for best single image photograph.

Yamil Berard, Johnny Edwards and Chris Joyner, all from the AJC, took home the price for best investigative reporting regarding Georgia House Speaker and attorney David Ralston routinely delaying court cases of criminal clients by claiming legislative obligations. 
Gracie Bond Staples and Ernie Suggs of the AJC tied for best reporting on civil and human rights.

The full list of winners are here.

Disclosure: I have been on the board of The Atlanta Press Club since 2009.