HBO Documents ‘Defiant Ones’

Jimmy Iovine in a baseball jacket and Dr. Dre in a maroon sweater.

Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre share their overlapping tales of struggle and success in HBO’s The Defiant Ones

Drama and humor, tragedy and triumph, “everything you’d expect in a great story” is how HBO president of programming Casey Bloys sums up in The Defiant Ones, the story of a musical partnership between the Brooklyn-born producer Jimmy Iovine and Compton bred songwriter and performer Andre Young, better known as Dr. Dre.

The stories of two men – one black, one white — from different tough neighborhoods —  plays out in recording studios, humble homes, criminal courts and in the highest corridors of corporate power, culminating in the 2015 sale of the company they co-founded, Beats Electronics, to Apple for $3 billion. Along the way were fights, heartache, creative breakthroughs and even death.

Directed by Allen Hughes (“Menace II Society”), the four-part series, which premieres July 9, is a journey through flash points of popular music culture. Parts 2-4 air on successive nights, through July 12.

In making his film, Hughes filmed Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre with unfettered access over a three-year period. In addition to extensive interviews with Dre and Iovine, who candidly discuss their highs and lows, the show includes interviews with Snoop Dogg, Bruce Springsteen, Gwen Stefani, Bono, David Geffen, Eminem, Nas, Stevie Nicks, Ice Cube, Jon Landau, Patti Smith, Lady Gaga, Doug Morris, Tom Petty, Trent Reznor, Diddy, Alonzo Williams and will.i.am. The show also features never-before-seen footage from a multitude of recording and writing sessions with Eazy-E, JJ Fad, Stevie Nicks, N.W.A., Tom Petty, The D.O.C., Bruce Springsteen and U2, among others.

Dre’s story began in Compton, Cal., where his fascination with dance music, DJ innovations and sound, brought him into contact with Eazy-E, Ice Cube, DJ Yella and MC Ren. Together, they would become the core of the 1980s gangsta-rap supergroup N.W.A. With provocative songs like “F**k the Police” and “Straight Outta Compton,”
shaped by the bitterness of race relations in Los Angeles, N.W.A evolved into a force to be reckoned with, in L.A. and beyond.

A native of Red Hook, Brooklyn, Iovine gravitated to music following an indifferent academic career, rebelling against the idea of carrying on in the family business as a longshoreman. Stints  answering phones in recording studios led to chance meetings with John Lennon, Patti Smith and Bruce Springsteen,  which he leveraged into something more sustainable — a career as a record producer — through invention, hard work, luck and a fearless willingness to tackle any project. Eventually he founded his own label, Interscope Records, signing artists including Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, Gwen Stefani and No Doubt and, eventually, Dr. Dre.

Recorded by Death Row Records and released by Interscope, Dre’s The Chronic became a huge hit,  and spawned an even bigger LP from Dre’s protégé, Snoop Dogg. The circumstances surrounding its success also triggered a tragic East-West rapper gang war that resulted in the death of Tupac Shakur.

The Defiant Ones is an HBO presentation of a Silverback 5150 Motion Picture in association with Alcon Television Group. The program will also be available on HBO NOW, HBO GO, HBO On Demand and affiliate portals.

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