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Since he first burst onto the scene in the late 1960s, David Bowie — who passed away on Sunday — has provided the iconic soundtracks for hundreds of films and TV shows.
But few productions can claim to feature a title song written especially by the man himself.
The Last Panthers, Sky/Canal Plus’ co-produced crime drama series that is set to air on Sundance TV later this year, has the honor of having “Blackstar,” the title track of Bowie’s last album, as its credit music.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter before Bowie’s death, Peter Carlton, joint CEO at London-based Warp Films, which produced Last Panthers, said it proved “ridiculously simple” to get the singer on board.
“We were sitting down going, ‘Who can we get to do this? It would be great to get someone who’s really iconic, and who sort of represents Europe, but is actually cool, which is often a contradiction in terms,” he said. “So we kind of went: ‘Who? Kraftwerk? They’ve split up. Well, there’s Bowie.’ “
Last Panthers director Johan Renck — more widely known as a celebrated music video helmer who has previously worked with the likes of Madonna, Beyonce and Kylie Minogue — provided the key link. His producer partner Svana Gisla was “old friends” with the Bowie team and put in the request.
“Two days later she came back and said: ‘Well, I asked and they said he checked out Johan and checked out the project and he’s interested to have a conversation,” said Carlton. “We were shooting up a mountain in Montenegro at the time, so we sent some very rough cut sequences from act one and act two, and two days later we got the message saying that he liked what he’s seen and wanted to meet.”
Renck, who lives in New York, was subsequently sent from the top of the mountain of Montenegro to the U.S., where he spent an afternoon with the legendary artist.
“They talked through their universes,” explained Carlton. “[Renck] showed him some rough ideas for the title sequence, and Bowie said that he’d been working on some music and thought it was in a similar vein. And he said, ‘Leave it with me.’ ”
After nothing happened for a few weeks, Carlton admitted that he and the Last Panthers team assumed that it wasn’t going to pan out.
“And then he turned up with ‘Blackstar,’ said the exec. “And yeah, it’s kind of wonderful. It was a meeting of minds and moments … and is just fantastic.”
Speaking to THR following the news of Bowie’s passing, Carlton said it has been a “privilege and a dream come true” to collaborate with the musician. “My thoughts, and those of everyone here at Warp, are with his family and close friends as the world mourns the loss of an inspirational artist and true icon,” he added.
The final track, a 10-minute opus, is a fitting tribute to the one-of-a-kind career of pop music’s great maverick.
Check out the trailer for The Last Panthers, with Bowie’s music, below.
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