Dawn Porter’s Luther Vandross Documentary ‘Never Too Much’ Acquired by CNN Films and OWN

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Dawn Porter’s documentary about R&B icon Luther Vandross, “Luther: Never Too Much,” has been acquired by CNN Films in partnership with the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), IndieWire can reveal exclusively.

The documentary film, which first premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, will debut in 2025 first on television on CNN and OWN before it lands on Max.

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The acquisition is encouraging news for CNN Films, which back in 2022 under former boss Chris Licht scaled back on its original documentary films. The brand moved away from acquisitions or commissioning projects and opted instead for newsy, quick turnaround docs produced in-house.

But CNN Films also partnered with Warner Bros. Discovery and DC Studios on this fall’s release of “Super/Man: The Christopher Reeve Story,” so the two acquisitions, both from this year’s Sundance, is a positive step forward for the documentary brand.

“Luther: Never Too Much” chronicles the story of a vocal virtuoso, exploring how Vandross, the artist behind songs like “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now” and “Endless Love,” grappled with critiques of his weight and physique, racism as he tried to earn respect in the music industry, and constant speculation about his sexuality. The film features largely archival footage of him collaborating with friends like Mariah Carey, Dionne Warwick, Valerie Simpson, and Roberta Flack. Vandross died in 2005 of a heart attack at the too-young age of 54.

IndieWire in its B+ review out of Sundance said “Luther: Never Too Much” is the definitive portrait of Vandross, and that Porter with her background in political documentaries was perfectly suited to tackle the singer’s complex career rife with industry politics and racial drama.

“There is a stirring sense of discovery in every corner of the searching ‘Luther’ that will awe both the most knowledgeable Vandross fans and those who are only versed in the well-known brushstrokes and ballads of his career,” Tomris Laffly wrote. “That latter group will learn a lot, too, hopefully making it their mission to broaden their playlists with Vandross classics.”

“I’m thrilled to partner again with CNN Films and OWN to bring this film to audiences,” director Dawn Porter said in a statement. “Luther’s music is timeless, his legacy is unsurpassed, and we can’t wait for all of his fans new and old to experience his brilliance.”

Porter previously worked with CNN Films on “John Lewis: Good Trouble,” and CNN Films also recently released music docs on Little Richard, Linda Rondstadt, Carole King, and James Taylor. Her most recent documentary “The Lady Bird Diaries” aired on ABC and Hulu last fall.

“CNN Films has a long history of bringing audiences intimate portraits of their favorite musicians and Dawn has crafted a beautiful tribute to Luther Vandross,” said Amy Entelis, executive vice president of talent, CNN Originals, and creative development. “It is an honor to reteam with her along with our partners at OWN to celebrate Luther’s enduring legacy and his iconic songbook.”

“Never Too Much” is produced by Raindog Films and Foxxhole Productions for Sony Music Entertainment and Sony Music Publishing, in association with Trilogy Films. CNN Films and OWN have TV and SVOD rights for the U.S. and Canada.

Directed and executive produced by Dawn Porter, “Luther: Never Too Much” is produced by Trish D Chetty and Ged Doherty for Raindog Films; Jamie Foxx and Datari Turner for Foxxhole Productions; and Leah Smith for Trilogy Films. Executive producers are Colin Firth for Raindog Films; Eli Holzman and Aaron Saidman for Sony Pictures Television Nonfiction; Tom Mackay and Richard Story for Sony Music Entertainment; and Jon Platt and Brian Monaco for Sony Music Publishing. Phil Thornton also serves as an executive producer. Sony Music Vision is the distributor.

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