CMT Greenlights Skynyrd Documentary ‘If I Leave Here Tomorrow’

Cable net will ‘play it pretty for Atlanta’ in 2017; sticking with bird theme, cues up 'Chicken People' too
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CMT has begun production on If I Leave Here Tomorrow, a documentary about the iconoclastic southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd that is slated to premiere next year. The film comes from director Stephen Kijak and is produced by Passion Pictures.

With songs from the first six Skynyrd albums driving the narration, the film is, above all, a look at frontman Ronnie Van Zant and what CMT calls his “contradictory persona” as a “mythic Southern Rock poet” and boozy brawler. 

A 1977 plane crash killed Van Zant and other band members and associates, putting Lynyrd Skynyrd on hold for a decade.

“The Lynyrd Skynyrd story, with all of its enigmatic players, dizzying highs and brutal lows, has never been done justice by writers or filmmakers,” said Brian Philips, president of CMT. “Our documentaries have become critical and fan favorites because they reveal colorful, yet conflicted characters in modern context. We’ll clear up some of the enduring myths about Lynyrd Skynyrd’s music, politics and thrill-a-minute backstory. We’ll fight to tell the truest story of this blockbuster American rock band, whose loving, loyal fans keep their spirit alive to this day.”        

The band got its start in Jacksonville, Florida, and had massive classic rock hits with “Free Bird,” “Sweet Home Alabama” and “What’s Your Name?”, among other era-defining tracks.

Andrew Ruhemann is an executive producer, while Jayson Dinsmore, Lewis Bogach and John Miller-Monzon executive produce for CMT.

Nearer term, another documentary, Chicken People, premieres on Wednesday, Nov. 23 at 8 p.m. That film is about the competitive world of show chickens.

As CMT puts it, “A real life Best in Show but about chickens, the film follows the struggles and triumphs of both humans and their feathered muses on the road to compete at the Ohio National Poultry Show.” 

The film made its world premiere at the 2016 South by Southwest Film Festival. Chicken People is produced by Terry Leonard, Caroline Kaplan, Christopher Clements and Julie Goldman and executive produced by Jayson Dinsmore, Lewis Bogach, John Miller-Monzon and Nicole Lucas Haimes.

CMT is part of Viacom.

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