Hitmakers: The Teens Who Stole Pop Music

A bunch of Jewish kids from Brooklyn jump-started the music business in the 1960s, and it’s never been the same. Hitmakers is a fabulously entertaining look at these "teens who stole pop music." The amazing convergence of songwriting talent at Manhattan’s Brill Building created a competitive but prolific community of songwriters, almost all of them Jewish, and few of them older than 27. At the Brill, wordsmiths like Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller ("Hound Dog") wrote hit songs for teen idols such as Elvis Presley, and increasingly for explosively talented black artists like Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, and The Shirelles. Songwriting team Carole King (later to become a renowned singer) and husband Gerry Goffin ("Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow") composed at an upright piano in a small cubicle. Their friends and rivals Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil ("You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling") were hard at work just a few millimeters of pressboard away in the next cubicle. Burt Bachrach, Hal David, and Neil Sedaka were riffing down the hall. Many of them worked for music producer Don Kirshner, who had tapped into the zeitgeist of 1960s youth, and understood that young teen audiences wanted to buy records by both white and black artists. These were magical years, when smart kids from Brooklyn hopped the subway into Manhattan with crumpled song sheets in hand, swept along by the passion and raw energy of rock ‘n roll. John Turturro narrates this toe-tapping documentary about a formative period in the history of American music, race relations and the nascent record industry. Featuring interviews and archival footage of The Drifters, Aretha Franklin, Ellie Greenwich, Doc Pomus & Mort Shuman, The Righteous Brothers, The Shirelles, and Dionne Warwick.
Director, Writer, Producer Morgan Neville is a documentary filmmaker specializing in cultural and historical subjects. Most recently, he directed, wrote, and produced the critically acclaimed film HITMAKERS, a documentary about the rise and fall of songwriting in New York's Brill Building. He also produced celebrated documentaries about Sam Phillips and Sun Records and Brian Wilson for A&E. In addition, he directed episodes of A&E BIOGRAPHY about John Steinbeck, Nat King Cole, John Huston, Sidney Poitier, Gloria Swanson, Ray Charles, Burt Bacharach, Leiber & Stoller, and Jonathan Winters. His first theatrical documentary was the award-winning feature SHOTGUN FREEWAY: DRIVES THRU LOST L.A., an examination of the meaning of history in the City of Angels. In 2000, he produced a series of shorts about California history for the Los Angeles Country Museum of Art, for their landmark Made in California exhibit. He has also worked with the Getty on various film projects. Neville collaborated with Robert Gordon on AMERICAN MASTERS MUDDY WATERS: CAN'T BE SATISFIED. He is now directing a film about the life and death of Hank Williams Sr. for AMERICAN MASTERS. Neville's production company is Tremolo Productions, Inc.
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