AXS TV, the cable network owned by Mark Cuban, Ryan Seacrest, CAA and AEG, has picked up rights to FrackNation, a right-wing answer to Gasland, a documentary that sought to show that hydraulic “fracking” is harmful to the environment. FrackNation makes the case that dangers associated with fracking, a technology for extracting energy from rock formations, are way overblown.
The debate, though, no doubt will expand beyond the relatively small audiences who view scientific documentaries, as fracking also is put front and center in Promised Land, a movie opening Jan. 4 that stars Matt Damon as a natural-gas salesman and John Krasinski as an environmentalist. Promised Land is one reason AXS wants FrackNation to air in January.
“Of course the timing is relevant,” Cuban told The Hollywood Reporter. “We want people talking and using #AXSTV when they watch and discuss it.”
Cuban, who says he eschews discussing politics nowadays, calls FrackNation an “OpEdocumentary,” his term for a documentary with a political point of view.
“We don’t take a position one way or another,” said Cuban. “If there was an anti-fracking OpEdocumentary, we would show it as well.”
In fact, there is another anti-fracking doc in the works, Gasland 2, which is in production at HBO. An HBO spokesperson wouldn’t say when Gasland 2 will be aired.
Phelim McAleer, the filmmaker behind FrackNation, also says the timing for his film is not a coincidence.
“We are going to be pushing back against what is going to be a Hollywood-HBO onslaught against fracking,” McAleer said. “We want to get a bit of balance in the debate — give a voice to farmers and rural poor whose voices are never heard above urban elites and Hollywood celebrities.”
FrackNation, in fact, will feature some prominent Hollywood environmentalists, whether they want to be in the movie or not.
“We have a section showing how, once the celebrities got involved, the people who depended on and supported fracking didn’t stand a chance,” McAleer said.