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Hope and chill: The Obamas are bringing a bunch of content to Netflix

Barack and Michelle Obama are trading a seat at the table of world leaders for a producer’s chair. On Monday, May 21, Netflix announced a multi-year partnership with the former President of the United States and First Lady to produce a myriad of original content for the streaming service.

Netflix states the partnership has the potential to include scripted, unscripted, and documentary series, as well as stand-alone documentaries and feature films. The Obamas created their own production company, Higher Ground Productions, for the announced (and likely future) projects.

There is no word on what the content will focus on, but the 44th President of the United States indicated that he hopes to give a platform to deserving people across the world.

“That’s why Michelle and I are so excited to partner with Netflix — 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,” Barack Obama stated in a statement.

Netflix’s announcement follows a New York Times article which first reported on the deal in March. Sources close to the deal indicated at the time that the series might focus on inspirational stories or feature moderated discussions of the topics that were highlights of the Obamas’ time in the White House. The report also indicates that some episodes could feature conversations on health care or voting rights moderated by Barack Obama, while Michelle Obama might moderate a show focusing on nutrition, for example.

According to the report, Netflix wasn’t the only streaming content provider to pursue a collaboration with the Obamas. Executives from Apple and Amazon have also reportedly been in talks with the former president and first lady.

Financial terms of the Netflix deal are unknown at this point, but the streaming service’s recent surge in spending on original content could give us a hint.

The company handed what is reportedly one of the largest television contracts of all time to Glee and American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy in February, luring him to the streaming service in an estimated $300 million deal. Previously, the company spent Hollywood-level money on the original film Bright, which cost around $90 million and was estimated to be viewed by more than 11 million people during its first three days of its release. Netflix also paid comedian Dave Chappelle a reported $20 million for each of four stand-up comedy specials were released on the streaming service in 2017.

One thing the Obamas’ content on Netflix reportedly won’t do, however, is directly respond to his current critics in the White House, Congress, or right-wing media.

“President and Mrs. Obama have always believed in the power of storytelling to inspire,” Eric Schultz, a senior adviser to the former president, said in March in response to the report. “Throughout their lives, they have lifted up stories of people whose efforts to make a difference are quietly changing the world for the better. As they consider their future personal plans, they continue to explore new ways to help others tell and share their stories.”

Updated on May 21: Added more details on the deal and official confirmation.

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Rick Marshall
A veteran journalist with more than two decades of experience covering local and national news, arts and entertainment, and…
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