‘Dear…’ EPs & Director Randy Wilkins On Getting Vulnerable With Spike Lee – Contenders TV Docs + Unscripted

Dominic Patten
·2 min read

“I think a really telling detail is that on almost all of these shoots, the icon would say to us, ‘Oh my God, can I take these letters home?’ ” Dear… executive producer Jane Cha Cutler said of the new Apple TV+ docuseries.

“Lin [Manuel] Miranda talks about everything you create is like throwing a pebble in to a pond, and the ripples are the impact of your creation, your work, of your deeds and the way it can change the world,” adds fellow EP RJ Cutler of some of the impetus behind the project. “And you see that in the letters that people we feature in the series write to those whose work has changed their lives.”

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Joined by Dear… director Randy Wilkins, the Cutlers were speaking during Deadline’s Contenders Television: Documentary + Unscripted virtual event.

Profiling icons from Hamilton creator Miranda and Oscar winner Spike Lee to the legendary Stevie Wonder, world-changing activist Gloria Steinem and the Queen of Media herself Oprah Winfrey among others, the 10-part series debuted on the streamer June 5 last year and has been renewed for a second season.

But Dear… isn’t just a standard bio-series. In getting up close and personal with the luminaries, the series adds additional layer and texture by hearing from people who found inspiration, recognition and new directions from their work and careers – specifically via the letters they wrote.

For the episode Wilkins helmed, that meant going deep with a mentor who had become a colleague and now a subject.

“In doing this episode, I really leaned on my relationship with him understanding that the perception of Spike isn’t really accurate towards the person that he actually is,” Wilkins, a story editor on the She’s Gotta Have It series, said of the man he first met as a film student. “I really wanted to make a point of making him emotionally vulnerable in this episode and creating that connection between him and the audience.”

Check out the panel video above.

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