Jan 19 2012

TV News: Elton John and Leon Russell Documentary, “The Union,” Premieres on HBO Next Month


While on safari with his partner David Furnish, Sir Elton John spent time listening to a greatest-hits album by his idol, Leon Russell. That prompted the music superstar to contact Russell and the rest, as they say, is history.

The Union, debuting Thursday, February 2 (9:00-10:30 p.m. ET/PT) exclusively on HBO, is an unprecedented personal look into the making of John and Russell’s acclaimed album of the same name.  Director Cameron Crowe brilliantly captures a myriad of intimate moments involving the two artists, including the first-ever filming of John composing music to lyrics written by Bernie Taupin, his longtime collaborator.  Underscoring John’s desire that the new album sound like one of Russell’s classics, the film is filled with concert footage of John and Russell throughout their careers, including John’s first U.S. appearance at The Troubadour in Los Angeles, a show attended by Russell.

With celebrated producer T Bone Burnett on board to produce, Crowe observes as the two musicians develop, rehearse and record such heralded tracks as “If It Wasn’t For Bad” (which received a 2011 Grammy nomination for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals), “Gone to Shiloh,” “Monkey Suit” and “In the Hands of Angels.”  Taupin, icons Neil Young and Brian Wilson, legendary organist Booker T. Jones, steel guitarist Robert Randolph and a ten-piece gospel choir are seen contributing to the album.  Appearances by Stevie Nicks and Don Was also color the documentary, a chronicle not just of music-making, but of the reinvigoration of Russell’s career.

The Union, the opening-night selection at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival, also shows how John has evolved, as an artist and a man.  Reflecting on his rise to fame in the “glorious blur” of the ‘70s, marked by over-the-top costumes and hyperactive performances, he says, “I spent a lot of time in my life feeling insecure offstage, rather than being secure on it.  I’m not that way anymore – I want to help people, I want to give back.  I love young artists.  And if I met the younger me today, I’d probably want to help him, too.”

Here’s a clip of Sir Elton talking about the impetus behind and the making of “The Union.”

Clip courtesy of “kinoglaza” on YouTube.



Love TV, movies, and books--mostly mysteries, with a good love story thrown in every now and then. I have four adopted dogs who I adore. I love trying new recipes, and enjoy eating what I make. English language perfectionist. Reading in bed, Italian food, warm weather, the beach, all types of games = favs!

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