American Entertainment Company, Netflix has struck a multi-year agreement with ex-US President Barack Obama and Michelle. The Obamas have created an entity called higher ground production intended to produce scripted and unscripted series as well as documentaries and feature films. The deal suggests a broader post-White House role for the Obamas than the typical book writing, public speaking engagements and charity work associated with past American Presidents. The Obamas will be directly involved in producing content and will physically appear in some of the shows while curating others. The Terms of the multi-year deal were not disclosed and the first of the programming is not expected to reach viewers until about May 2019, said a person familiar with the deal.
The agreement between Netflix and the Obamas, which already boasts some 125 million subscribers worldwide, is a first for any occupant of the White House. The only similar agreement to this is former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, whose global warming documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” won an Oscar in 2007. He also launched a youth-oriented cable TV network, Current TV, in 2005 but was later sold to Middle-Eastern network Al Jazeera in 2013, which eventually shut it down. The Obamas have not given details of the topics they plan to cover but the content is not expected to be directly political. The ex-US President in a statement recalled the “fascinating people” from all walks of life that he had met during his eight years in office, ending in January 2017. He also added, “We hope to cultivate and curate the talented, inspiring, creative voices who are able to promote greater empathy and understanding between peoples, and help them share their stories with the entire world.”
Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos mentioned in a statement that the Obamas are “uniquely positioned to discover and highlight stories of people who make a difference in their communities and strive to change the world for the better.” The agreement with the Obamas also marks one of the biggest poach for Netflix in leading top-level talent away from traditional Hollywood studios and television networks. In the past year, Netflix has struck deals with Shonda Rhimes, the woman behind hits shows like “Scandal” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” and Emmy-winning Ryan Murphy, who created “Glee” and directed the TV series “American Crime Story.” Netflix, which budgeted $8 billion for programming in 2018, is also producing Martin Scorsese’s next film starring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. The ex-US President was the first guest on David Letterman’s return to television in an extended talk show format with Netflix that debuted in January.