‘Mr. Soul!’ Documentary Chronicles History of ‘Black Tonight Show’
Mr. Soul!, the award-winning documentary about the public television variety show Soul!, is coming to HBO Max August 1st, and the streaming service has released a trailer for the film that captures just how influential and ahead of its time Soul! was.
Produced and directed by Melissa Haizlip, the documentary chronicles how her uncle, enigmatic producer and host Ellis Haizlip, created Soul! (1968-1973) as a celebration of black music, politics, literature, dance, and poetry during a tumultuous time for black Americans. The show featured countless performances by and interviews with the era’s luminaries like James Baldwin, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, Patti LaBelle, Al Green, Mavis Staples, Harry Belafonte, Roberta Flack, Kool and the Gang, Max Roach, and many more.
“After seeing Melissa’s doc, I knew I wanted everyone to see it,” Lena Waithe, one of the executive producers behind the film, said in a statement. “This documentary showcases one of our Queer icons who never received his just due. He put Black people center stage and didn’t care if it was a huge success. He just wanted to leave an impact, and that he did.”
Haizlip said, “We’re truly grateful for the opportunity to both introduce and reintroduce the Soul! series, the music, and Ellis Haizlip to the world. Soul! is the greatest show you’ve never heard of. And up until now, my uncle Ellis Haizlip has been a bit of an unsung hero. We’re beyond honored to have Mr. Soul! premiere on HBO Max on August 1st.”