Watch a Teaser Trailer for ‘David Byrne’s American Utopia,’ Directed by Spike Lee — Premiering on HBO/HBO Max 10/17

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Rock Cellar Magazine

Anybody who witnessed the live concert experience that David Byrne put together in 2018 knows how magical an evening it was — and the Talking Heads icon’s groundbreaking live presentation was turned into a hit Broadway show last year.

(Click here to pick up the American Utopia Cast Recordings album from our Rock Cellar Store)

The COVID-19 pandemic halted its extended plans for Broadway domination, but this fall a film version from director Spike Lee will premiere on HBO and HBO Max. Originally announced in mid-June, the film adaptation now has an official release date (Oct. 17) and trailer, which premiered on Monday. Take a look:

Said Lee in a statement regarding the project when it was announced:

“It is my honor and privilege that my art brother, Mr. David Byrne, asked me to join him in concert, to invite me into his magnificent world of American Utopia. And dat’s da ‘once in a lifetime’ truth, Ruth. Ya-dig? Sho-nuff. Peace and love. Be safe.”

David Byrne, too, echoed Lee’s feelings of excitement about the project:

“Spike and I have crossed paths many times over the years, obviously I’m a huge fan, and now finally here was an opportunity for us to work together. I am absolutely thrilled with the result. The Broadway show was a wonderful challenge as well as an opportunity — it was a joy to perform and, well, best to let the quotes speak for themselves. Thrilled that this show and the subjects it addresses will now reach a wider audience.”

Byrne and his ensemble of performers brought American Utopia to Saturday Night Live and various other programs in early 2020, providing a glimpse of what the full show has to offer:

The American Utopia show features various songs from Byrne’s Talking Heads career, his solo catalog and more — including a performance of Janelle Monáe’s “Hell You Talmbout,” in which Byrne and his backing performers shout the names of African Americans who have been unjustly killed.

Byrne discussed how the song became part of his show in a recent Rolling Stone chat:

 “She loved it. I was kind of surprised. There was no hesitation. She’s very generous. So I continue to ask her, ‘We’re doing it on Broadway now. You sure you’re OK with all this?”’ ‘Yeah.’

I thought I had to do that; I had to check with her and see what her take was on that. Because otherwise, it could seem pretty strange. She’s about getting the message out.”

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