CNN Films Acquires 'Jimmy Carter Rock & Roll President' Documentary

Courtesy of Not Just Peanuts, LLC
'Jimmy Carter Rock & Roll President'

Mary Wharton's film about the role of popular music in getting the U.S. president into the White House was to have opened the Tribeca Film Festival.

CNN Films has acquired the North American broadcast rights to Mary Wharton's Jimmy Carter Rock & Roll President, a feature rockumentary about the U.S. president's passion for music, which helped propel him from Georgia to the White House.

The film, written by Bill Flanagan and produced by Chris Farrell, was to have opened the Tribeca Film Festival in April before the physical event was canceled due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Jimmy Carter Rock & Roll President will now close the AFI Docs film festival on June 21.

Wharton's film portrays how friendships with Bob Dylan, Gregg Allman, Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash and Willie Nelson helped Carter, an unknown peanut farmer from Georgia, gain a national profile and win the U.S. presidency. Jimmy Carter Rock & Roll President combines interviews with Carter and archival footage of performances from Nelson, Aretha Franklin, Jimmy Buffett and Paul Simon as Wharton defines Carter's use of popular music genres to appeal to voters.

"When Chris and Mary came to Plains, [Georgia,] to show the film to me and my family, it was entertaining and emotional for all of us. The film exceeded my expectations in every way. I’m thrilled that Rock & Roll President will reach a broad audience on CNN," Carter said in a statement.

Farrell and Wharton added their goal was to put the former U.S. president in a new light. "We hope that CNN viewers will come away with a new appreciation for not only his moral courage and leadership, but also the fact that he is pretty cool," they said in their own statement.

Jimmy Carter Rock & Roll President is a Not Just Peanuts production that was financed by Thunder Moccasin Pictures. Dave Kirkpatrick also produced, with Dan Braun, Peter Conlon, David Crawford, and Wharton sharing the executive producer credits. 

The film deal was negotiated by Stacey Wolf, senior vp business affairs for CNN Worldwide, on behalf of CNN Films, and by Dan Braun and Josh Braun of Submarine on behalf of the filmmakers.