REELZ today announced its May 2021 premieres led by new music themed original stories about the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, peerless Queen frontman Freddie Mercury and country music legend Johnny Cash along with new stories in original series Breaking the Band, Life, Death & Money and Autopsy: The Last Hours of… May also includes the U.S. premieres of documentaries Confessions of a Serial Killer: Samuel Little about one of the most prolific serial killers in American history and Meat Loaf: In and Out of Hell with the actor and rocker in his own words sharing his life story.
“Our May premieres present the fascinating stories of extraordinary entertainers who dazzle on concert stages, movie screens and in our living rooms on TV from the irreplaceable powerhouse Freddie Mercury to groundbreaking comedian Redd Foxx,” said Steve Cheskin, SVP of Programming at REELZ. “Breaking the Band is back with a bang as Heart founding members Roger Fisher and Steve Fossen along with Michael Fisher who was instrumental in the band’s success share their personal stories about its magic and misfortune.”
Highlighting May premieres are three new original stories about the singular talent and exceptional life of Aretha Franklin who over a 60 year career sold more than 75 million records, won 18 Grammy Awards(R) and became a beloved cultural icon. Autopsy: The Last Hours of… examines the health battles Franklin fought throughout her career from kicking smoking and drinking habits to controlling her diet as well as her long battle with a rare form of pancreatic cancer. In Story of Her Songs see the powerful stories behind three songs that made Franklin the Queen of Soul from her defiant anthem “Respect” to global gospel smash “I Say a Little Prayer” and her incredible 1980s comeback “Sisters are Doin’ it for Themselves”. In Franklin’s monumental career she’d built an estate worth an estimated $80 million. Life, Death & Money explores the story after Franklin’s death when a shocking discovery was made regarding her estate. It was revealed that Franklin had three handwritten wills but they contradicted each other and sparked a massive legal quagmire that threatened to tear her family apart. Two additional new stories of Life, Death & Money unpack the messy estate battles that ensued after sensational vocalist Chris Cornell and innovative comedian Redd Foxx died with both artists leaving behind intellectual property potentially worth millions of dollars but with questions about who would manage it.
May premieres include the return of original documentary series Breaking the Band about The Who and Heart as the two bands share similar stories of strained partnerships, clashing artistic visions and tragic battles with drugs but in the case of Heart the intra-band partnerships were real romantic relationships that led to emotional meltdowns and lifelong feuds. In their own words Heart co-founding members Roger Fisher and Steve Fossen along with manager Michael Fisher tell the band’s incredible journey through several decades of hits, reinventions, fallouts and the real story behind that infamous on-stage guitar smashing incident that shook the band to its core.
Freddie Mercury successfully transformed himself from a shy and stifled boy into a powerful performer by reimaging himself throughout his life by living as a cast of illustrious characters he created. New original special Freddie Mercury: Inside His Mind features acclaimed psychiatrist Dr. Bob Johnson profiling Mercury’s brilliant mind and life experiences to better understand his genius. Also exploring the creative sparks and driving forces of a towering musical talent is new original special Johnny Cash: The Man in Black about the war Johnny Cash waged within himself throughout his career from the dark origins of his destructive streaks and addictions to his radiating responses to troubles.
With their 35 year marriage friends and family say Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash were soulmates but their relationship wasn’t without its low points. For June the couple’s conflicts added to the untold amounts of stress already experienced by her body after a lifetime of touring and a new Autopsy: The Last Hours of… “June Carter Cash” examines the heart complications that contributed to her passing. The physical and mental toll of performing on the road is viciously compounded when hard drugs and heavy drinking are involved. Autopsy: The Last Hours of… also looks at the tragic case of dynamic vocalist Scott Weiland who was found dead on his tour bus from lethal cocktail of cocaine, ethanol and MDA.
Below is May 2021 programming listed by premiere date and time. Full synopses for every show follows this list.
Saturday, May 1
U.S. Premiere – Confessions of a Serial Killer: Samuel Little at 8pm ET/ 5pm PT
Sunday, May 2
*NEW* Autopsy: The Last Hours of… “Aretha Franklin” at 8pm ET/ 5pm PT
*NEW* Aretha Franklin: Story of Her Songs at 9pm ET/ 6pm PT
Sunday, May 9
*NEW* Autopsy: The Last Hours of… “Scott Weiland” at 8pm ET/ 5pm PT
*NEW* Chris Cornell: Life, Death & Money at 9pm ET/ 6pm PT
Sunday, May 16
*NEW* The Who: Breaking the Band at 8pm ET/ 5pm PT
*NEW* Freddie Mercury: Inside His Mind at 9pm ET/ 6pm PT
Saturday, May 22
*NEW* Red Foxx: Life, Death & Money at 9pm ET/ 6pm PT
Sunday, May 23
*NEW* Heart: Breaking the Band at 8pm ET/ 5pm PT
U.S. Premiere – Meat Loaf: In and Out of Hell at 9pm ET/ 6pm PT
Thursday, May 27
*NEW* Aretha Franklin: Life, Death & Money at 10pm ET/ 7pm PT
Sunday, May 30
*NEW* Johnny Cash: The Man in Black at 8pm ET/ 5pm PT
*NEW* Autopsy: The Last Hours of… “June Carter Cash” at 9pm ET/ 6pm PT
Below are detailed descriptions for May 2021 programming listed by premiere date and time:
Confessions of a Serial Killer: Samuel Little
Makes Its U.S. Premiere on Saturday, May 1 at 8pm ET/ 5pm PT. Samuel Little claims to have killed up to 93 women across 19 states over a span of four decades with the FBI confirming Little’s involvement in 60 murders making his one of the largest proven serial killer cases in U.S. history. With exclusive access to rare and haunting interviews with Little hear the killer himself give chilling details about his crimes and how he chose his victims. Starting at just 17 years old Little was on the wrong side of the law and would go on to be arrested nearly 100 times over his 50-year crime spree. Through insufficient evidence in some cases and complications with witnesses in others Little was able to evade hard justice for years. He’d constantly move to different states and always found himself in the dark underbelly of the cities he lived in. Sharing their experience with Little’s case are retired LAPD Homicide Detective Rick Jackson and Detective Darren Versiga who is a key figure in linking Little’s confessions to unsolved cases in Mississippi. Viewers will also hear from victims’ family members to help paint a portrait of how the barbaric Little became intertwined with the people he preyed on and their experiences of living decades with no answers as to why their loved one was killed and who was responsible. Confessions of a Serial Killer: Samuel Little is a Zandland production for Channel 4. Distributed by BBC Studios.
Autopsy: The Last Hours of… “Aretha Franklin”
Premieres on Sunday, May 2 at 8pm ET/ 5pm PT. In the morning hours of August 16, 2018 Aretha Franklin tragically died. Franklin will endure as one of the world’s greatest ever vocalists who performed for more than 50 years with her powerful brand of gospel, soul and pop music. Her genius reached into many diverse genres of music and she wrote and produced some of the most enduring classics of modern times setting the bar for modern vocalists. Renowned for her generosity Franklin stood for civil rights worldwide and gave voice to the struggles of millions of people. A fiercely private woman she overcame her own childhood trauma and had to face tragedy and heartbreak throughout her life as she battled with alcohol, cigarettes and her diet. Franklin was always fiercely determined and she bravely battled the rare but treatable cancer that finally took her life. So how did she come to have this fatal disease? Renowned medical examiner Dr. Michael Hunter investigates and analyzes all of the available evidence including Franklin’s medical history and first-hand accounts from her life to find out what caused the deadly cancer that took such an incredible icon’s life. Sharing their personal experiences are Franklin’s former publicist Dr. LaJoyce Brookshire, family friend Evrod Cassimy and Vince Paul President and Artistic Director of Detroit Music Hall along with insight from music journalists J’na Jefferson and David Nathan. Autopsy: The Last Hours of… is produced by Potato, part of ITV Studios.
Aretha Franklin: Story of Her Songs
Premieres on Sunday, May 2 at 9pm ET/ 6pm PT. Celebrate the three tracks that cemented the great Aretha Franklin as the indomitable Queen of Soul. We hear from legendary session musicians, producers, journalists and industry experts who witnessed her rise. Starting with her version of the Otis Redding classic “Respect” Franklin records the song in her style and its success launched her to superstar status while also delivering what became a civil rights anthem during a time of great cultural change in 1960s America. Hear from Redding’s friend and renowned guitarist Steve Cropper who recalls how Franklin made the song her own in defiant style and what Redding thought of her version. Less than a year later Franklin would build on her gospel foundation and cross over into soul with her sublime rendition of “I Say A Little Prayer”. Organist and Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section royalty Spooner Oldham shares how he helped Franklin find her groove as she secured her ninth consecutive top 10 hit with Atlantic Records and continued to dominate the Billboard charts topping off her dazzling run of success in the 1960s. More than a decade later a significant change came for Franklin’s sound and she started the 1980s with a bang through an empowering pop classic “Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves” with Annie Lennox. Hear from multiple Grammy Award(R) winning producer Narada Michael Walden who was enlisted to work his magic on Franklin’s 1985 comeback putting her right back on top where she belonged. Reliving these celebrated and signature Franklin anthems we showcase her powerful, raw and uncompromising gift as one of the most influential artists the world has ever seen. Story of Their Songs is produced by is produced by ViacomCBS International Studios UK.
Autopsy: The Last Hours of… “Scott Weiland”
Premieres on Sunday, May 9 at 8pm ET/ 5pm PT. Known affectionately as “The Last Great Rockstar” grunge icon Scott Weiland died on December 3, 2015. The singer and songwriter’s death at just 48 years old came suddenly while on the road with his new band The Wildabouts. As the lead singer of Stone Temple Pilots and super group Velvet Revolver he famously lived the rockstar lifestyle to the full. As sales skyrocketed he indulged in all the excesses that come with success in the music business all while battling alcoholism and mental illness. At the height of his career he developed a devastating heroin addiction and towards the end of his life his behavior became increasingly unpredictable and erratic. Cited in his autopsy was mixed drug toxicity as the cause of death but notably there was no heroin found in Weiland’s system and renowned forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Hunter believes that Weiland’s well documented drug use doesn’t present the full picture. Now Dr. Hunter investigates the troubled past Weiland lived and discovers a host of traumatic events and dangerous activities in his life story that may have played a role in his sudden and tragic death alone on his tour bus. Autopsy: The Last Hours of… is produced by Potato, part of ITV Studios.
Chris Cornell: Life, Death & Money
Premieres on Sunday, May 9 at 9pm ET/ 6pm PT. When grunge rock icon and former Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell dies from suicide in middle of a tour in May 2017 the world is caught completely off guard. According to Cornell’s will his sole beneficiaries are widow Vicky and their two children along with the Cornell family trust but soon after his untimely death the first of many bitter estate battles would surface. After his death it was estimated Cornell’s estate was worth more than $60 million including homes in Rome, Paris and New York as well as vintage sports cars, custom motorcycles, 13 music awards, numerous guitars and what would become the high profile focal point of one estate battle – seven unreleased Soundgarden songs potentially worth millions of dollars. While the biggest fight over money would be between Vicky and surviving members of Soundgarden over the band’s unreleased tracks the original feud to make headlines involves Cornell’s first wife and former manager Susan Silver who goes to court demanding a piece of his estate seeking money for their daughter Lillian’s college tuition. Life, Death & Money is produced by Buck Productions.
The Who: Breaking the Band
Premieres on Sunday, May 16 at 8pm ET/ 5pm PT. Legendary English rock band The Who sold more than 100 million records in a career that spans six decades. As they were propelled to fame in the early 1960s they redefined youth culture with their aggressive antics on stage and off. With Pete Townshend’s stellar guitar playing, Roger Daltrey’s signature voice and the drug fueled capers of its unique drummer Keith Moon and John Entwistle on bass The Who produced a stream of hits that made them household names worldwide. But with fame came conflict between Townshend and Daltrey as they tussled for control of the band. And with global superstardom came massive excess which ended in Moon’s tragic death in 1978. Somehow the remaining members managed to keep going until they split in 1982. Still, the magic and surprisingly the disfunction that birthed The Who drew them back together as they have since reformed and the two remaining members Townshend and Daltrey play on and are still touring today. Sharing his personal experiences having spent more than 20 years as the band’s keyboard player John ‘Rabbit’ Bundrick tells viewers exactly what it was like to see Townshend and Daltrey clash including on the decision to hire him to play. Also providing insight from 16 years as production manager for The Who is John Wolff who sheds light on the tensions between the band and managers Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp. Breaking the Band is produced by Potato, part of ITV Studios.
Freddie Mercury: Inside His Mind
Premieres on Sunday, May 16 at 9pm ET/ 6pm PT. Freddie Mercury was an unparalleled frontman with a complex personality notable for being bombastic yet shy, excessive yet humble, exalted yet lonely. His hedonistic lifestyle captivated fans and the press while his creative genius saw him top the charts with several hit records as the lead singer for Queen. But hiding behind his carefully crafted public persona was a tumultuous inner life that very few witnessed. With more than 30 years spent psychologically profiling the most complex minds from world leaders to notorious serial killers acclaimed psychiatrist Dr. Bob Johnson unpacks one of the most marvelous and misunderstood musical minds in pop history with an intimate look at Mercury’s life. Freddie Mercury: Inside His Mind examines the wondrous world Mercury built for himself through creating multiple personas that he used to manage vulnerabilities that afflicted him since he was a child. Combined with personal stories from those who knew and worked with Mercury including childhood friends, his personal assistant for more than a decade Peter Freestone and road manager Peter Hince hear in Mercury’s own words his struggle with creating and maintaining alternate personas including finding himself lost in the ravenous indulgences of excessive sex and drugs. Freddie Mercury: Inside His Mind is produced by Honey Bee.
Redd Foxx: Life, Death & Money
Premieres on Saturday, May 22 at 9pm ET/ 6pm PT. This is the story of how pioneering comedian Redd Foxx not only hustled his way into TV stardom but also the long-running and secretive battle he faced with the IRS that resulted in a heated family estate war. In the 1970s Foxx became a TV staple in homes across America when he starred as Fred Sanford in the hit comedy sitcom Sanford and Son. By the time he died at the age of 68 Foxx had done it all conquering the comedy world with stand-up records and TV specials as well as headlining major Las Vegas shows all while becoming a bonafide TV actor, producer, and entrepreneur. At the height of his career Foxx was making millions but by his death in 1991 he was technically broke. In fact reports claim Foxx was deep in the red owing approximately $3.6 million to the IRS which was substantially less than the $11 million the media initially reported he was worth. It would take years for Foxx’s estate to try and pay back the late icon’s debts and it’s ultimately his posthumous payment plan that lands his widow Ka Ho Cho and his adopted daughter Debraca Foxx into a bitter family estate battle nearly 15 years later. Life, Death & Money is produced by Buck Productions.
Heart: Breaking the Band
Premieres on Sunday, May 23 at 8pm ET/ 5pm PT. Heart co-founders Steve Fossen and Roger Fisher along with his brother and band manager Michael Fisher reveal the remarkable story of the band’s journey to success and how sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson joined the group and changed rock history. Renowned for 1970s hits “Crazy on You” and “Barracuda” the story of Heart includes an intra-band double love story sibling soap opera that ended in explosive breakups that blew apart the original band’s dream. But as the Fisher brothers and Fossen explain it wasn’t just twisted love triangles and a series of infidelities that broke the band there were also creative clashes, burnout and soaring egos that took their toll. The downfall of the original Heart left Ann and Nancy free to take the band into the cutthroat world of mainstream rock super stardom where they would reinvent themselves with different band members leading to their 1980s power ballads including the chart topping “Alone”. It’s said time heals all wounds but in the case of a broken Heart the bitterness of the breakup would last decades even as the original band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame they would only perform one song together and hear from the Fisher brothers how even a simple group photo was an insurmountable feat. Breaking the Band is produced by Potato, part of ITV Studios.
Meat Loaf: In and Out of Hell
Makes Its U.S. Premiere on Sunday, May 23 at 9pm ET/ 6pm PT. An intimate look at the wild ride to the top taken by the multi-platinum artist who also acted in cult classics Rocky Horror Picture Show, Wayne’s World and Fight Club hear Meat Loaf in his own words share his life story. From his early life growing up in Dallas Texas to his continuing career as singer and entertainer for more than 40 years hear Marvin Lee Aday aka Meat Loaf describe the challenges of having an abusive father, his pursuit of the rock and roll dream, the fantastic career comeback he staged and the events that birthed his epic and one-of-a-kind name. The documentary also delves into his rollercoaster relationship with writer Jim Steinman who crafted several of the rocker’s best songs and albums and the clashes that nearly derailed Meat Loaf’s career. Viewers will also hear from Tim Curry sharing his experience working with Meat Loaf on the set of Rocky Horror Picture Show as well as producer Todd Rundgren who reveals what it was like to work on the album “Bat Out of Hell” which would go on to sell more than 34 million copies. Meat Loaf: In and Out of Hell is a Telescop production for BBC.
Aretha Franklin: Life, Death & Money
Premieres on Thursday, May 27 at 10pm ET/ 7pm PT. When the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin died in 2018 her estate was worth as much as $80 million by some estimates with assets including 25 gold records, 18 Grammy Awards(R), her red grand piano and five homes worth approximately $25 million. Dying as a resident of Michigan meant that under state law Franklin’s fortune would be distributed evenly amongst her four surviving sons. It would also provide them with equal responsibility to cover a $6.8 million tax lien Franklin owed by the IRS. Everything felt peaceful and fair in the family until Franklin’s niece and the estate’s appointed executor Sabrina Owens made the shocking discovery that Franklin had left behind not one but three handwritten wills. Digging up nearly illegible wills in odd places such as in between couch cushions meant a big problem for the family as every will had conflicting final wishes for her sons and how to handle her intellectual property. Life, Death and Money is produced by Buck Productions.
Johnny Cash: The Man in Black
Premieres on Sunday, May 30 at 8pm ET/ 5pm PT. With more than 19 million records sold over an illustrious career Johnny Cash was one of the most accomplished and influential artists of the 20th century. But he was also one of the most self-destructive and deeply conflicted with roots from a religious upbringing that would collide with the temptations of fame. Through rare archive interviews hear Cash in his own words describing how much he despised drugs and their consequences on his own life but how cravings of addition crushed him. Torn between his faith and the spoils of superstardom Johnny Cash: The Man in Black is the story of a man at war with himself that examines his origins of his notorious propensity for darkness and the traumatic life experiences that vexed him. Sharing her experiences of her father is Roseanne Cash who discusses life growing up on the family farm and watching her father fall in love with music and her mother Vivian as well as his descent into depravity from heavy drug abuse. Cash’s friend Johnny Western and sister-in-law Joanne Cash Yates also share their stories of the man in black along with addition commentary from Michael Darlow who directed Cash’s concert at San Quentin prison. Johnny Cash: The Man in Black is produced by ITV Studios.
Autopsy: The Last Hours of… “June Carter Cash”
Premieres on Sunday, May 30 at 9pm ET/ 6pm PT. Born in Maces Spring Virginia on June 23, 1929 and hailing from the first family of country music June Carter Cash embodied the sound of the Appalachian mountains. Her mother Maybelle Carter was a part of the Carter Family music act who made some of the first ever country music recordings in the 1920s. A singer, songwriter, musician and author the Grammy Award(R) winning June had a career spanning 60 years after shooting to fame at just 10 years old performing with her mother and two sisters. Despite her enormous success it was her tumultuous 35 year marriage to country music legend Johnny Cash that dominated her life and took its toll as the relationship was full of chaos from infidelities and arrests to scandals and drugs. On May 15, 2003 June Carter Cash died in a Nashville hospital following complications from a heart surgery procedure that has a low mortality rate. In this episode renowned forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Hunter analyzes Carter records and first-hand accounts from June’s sister-in-law Joanne Cash Yates and friends Johnny Western and Vicky Hamilton to determine exactly why her heart failed after the procedure. Autopsy: The Last Hours of… is produced by Potato, part of ITV Studios.
About REELZ – REAL LIVES. REAL STORIES. REAL CELEBRITIES.(R)
REELZ is a leading independent cable and satellite general entertainment network focused on celebrity culture with poignant stories about Hollywood in revealing documentaries and character profiles of the famous and infamous. Programming ranges from the critically acclaimed and award-winning The Kennedys to Real Story of… revealing the true stories behind hit movies including American Made and Selena. Along with shows about movies, fame and celebrity lifestyles the network is also home to true crime stories and Autopsy: The Last Hours of… which examines the final days of popular celebrities from Lucille Ball to Prince.
REELZ is available in 70 million homes on DIRECTV channel 238, DISH Network channel 299, Verizon FiOS TV channel 692HD, AT&T U-verse channels 799/1799HD and cable systems nationwide. Find REELZ in your area by visiting www.reelz.com. REELZ is a High-Definition network and if it is not available, or not in HD, on your cable or telco provider, we encourage viewers to call them and ask for it. Owned by Hubbard Media Group, REELZ is headquartered in Albuquerque, NM with national ad sales based in New York City with offices in Boston and Chicago. As one of the last truly independent television networks remaining in today’s media landscape REELZ has created the Independence Happens Here(R) website to help keep free thought and innovation alive by highlighting the importance of independent businesses. The website can be found at http://IndependenceHappensHere.com.