Barack and Michelle Obama to produce content for Netflix

Entertainment

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Former U.S. President Barack Obama and wife Michelle Obama will produce films and series for Netflix Inc, the streaming service said on Monday, giving the former first family a powerful media platform to shape their post-White House legacy.

FILE PHOTO – Former President Barack Obama waves with his wife Michelle as they board Special Air Mission 28000, a Boeing 747 which serves as Air Force One, at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S. on January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

Under the name Higher Ground Productions, the Obamas have the options to produce scripted and unscripted series, documentaries and feature films, Netflix said in a statement.

Terms of the multi-year deal were not disclosed and Netflix did not say when Obama-produced content will be released or give any specific content plans.

The agreement with Netflix, which boasts some 125 million subscribers worldwide, will give the Obamas a voice outside of the traditional public speaking, books and charity work that recent ex-presidents have relied on.

“One of the simple joys of our time in public service was getting to meet so many fascinating people from all walks of life and to help them share their experiences with a wider audience,” Barack Obama said in a statement.

“That’s why Michelle and I are so excited to partner with Netflix – we hope to cultivate and curate the talented, inspiring, creative voices who are able to promote greater empathy and understanding between peoples, and help them share their stories with the entire world.”

“Barack and I have always believed in the power of storytelling to inspire us, to make us think differently about the world around us, and to help us open our minds and hearts to others,” Michelle Obama said in the statement.

Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said in a statement that the Obamas are “uniquely positioned to discover and highlight stories of people who make a difference in their communities and strive to change the world for the better.”

Netflix has budgeted $8 billion for programming in 2018, which also includes licensed content. In the past year, Netflix has snagged successful TV producers Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy and is producing Martin Scorsese’s next film starring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino.

Netflix has aggressively pursued content acquisitions in recent years as it moves to compete with traditional Hollywood studios for films and original TV programming.

Barack Obama was the first guest on David Letterman’s Netflix talk show in January.

Additional reporting by Mekhla Raina in Bengaluru; Editing by Bill Trott

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