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A documentary project about the life of famed Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera — featuring never-before-seen footage of her final concert — is in development.
The doc, made in cooperation with Rivera’s family, comes from veteran unscripted producer David Broome (The Biggest Loser, The Day I Met El Chapo) and music and TV producer Emilio Estefan.
Rivera, one of the most popular Latin recording artists of this century, died in a December 2012 plane crash following a concert in Monterrey, Mexico. She was 43.
Her family has held onto footage of her last concert — a marathon set of 47 songs — and other film of the last days of her life. Now that Rivera’s children are all adults, and with what would have been her 50th birthday coming in July, they think the time is right for the project.
“We’re really excited,” said Juan Rivera, Jenni’s brother. “We’ve been trying to find the perfect timing for releasing something of this magnitude. It’s taken us a while because it’s such a delicate topic.”
A native of Long Beach, California, Rivera sold millions of records and became the first American-born singer to earn a Latin Grammy nomination for best Banda album. She also starred on the reality show I Love Jenni for Mun2 (now Universo) and was developing an ABC sitcom at the time of her death.
The documentary is in the early stages, and Broome told The Hollywood Reporter he will begin shopping it to TV and streaming outlets soon. He said he is uncertain whether the project will take the form of a feature film or a multi-part series. Broome’s 25/7 Productions and Estefan Enterprises, the company owned by Emilio and Gloria Estefan, are producing the effort.
Both Emilio Estefan and Broome told THR the footage of Rivera’s final concert gave them chills.
“I think she had a premonition about what was going to happen, and she decided to film it,” said Estefan, who had worked with Rivera in the past. “For her fans, I think how lucky they’re going to be to see her last 48 hours.”
Film from her final concert has never been publicly released. Broome told THR the documentary will also include footage taken by family members and a film crew after the concert and just before she boarded her final flight.
“There’s just so much there,” Broome said. “We want to tell it in such a way that it will almost feel like Jenni is answering questions” her fans may have had. During the final concert, he said, she took time between songs to talk with the audience about her life, telling them that she was “going to see God” the following day.
The Rivera family is also planning a tribute concert and other events to mark Rivera’s 50th birthday. Rosie Rivera, Jenni’s younger sister and the CEO of Jenni Rivera Enterprises, told THR she hopes the documentary will be a positive both for those close to Rivera and the singer’s fans.
“The first seven years since her passing have been the most difficult for every single person in this family. We’ll never forget her, we’ll never stop working on her legacy,” she said. “But I am concerned about those living and those that stayed behind. That cycle of brokenness, we’d love to now begin a cycle of celebration of her life.”
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