World of Wonder (production company)
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World of Wonder Productions is a production company founded in 1991 by filmmakers Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato. Based in Los Angeles, California, the company produces reality and documentary television programs, feature films, and new media.
Their documentary films include Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures (2016), Inside Deep Throat (2005), The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2000), Party Monster (1998), Monica in Black and White, Heidi Fleiss: The Would-be Madam of Crystal, and I Am Britney Jean.
The duo have produced programming for HBO, Showtime, Logo, VH1, IFC, Discovery, OWN, TLC, E!, HGTV, PBS, and Channel 4. Their company blog, The WOW Report, was named Best Counter Culture Blog by LA Weekly. In 2014, Bailey and Barbato were honored with the IDA Pioneer Award, "celebrating exceptional achievement, leadership, and vision in the nonfiction and documentary community".
World of Wonder operates primarily out of its art-deco building on Hollywood Boulevard. Designed by architects S. Tilden Norton and Fredrick H. Wallis and erected in 1930, the building served as the original home of the Directors Guild of America. The World of Wonder Storefront Gallery now occupies the ground floor retail space, with production and management offices occupying the upper three stories. The basement, once home to the punk rock club The Masque, now houses the company's video archive and a sound stage.
Barbato and Bailey met in the graduate film program at NYU, in the mid-'80s. Intent on becoming famous, they formed a disco-pop-rock duo called The Fabulous Pop Tarts and began performing regularly at Danceteria and other clubs in downtown New York City. They produced two albums, Age of the Thing which included their hit single, “New York City Beat”, and Gagging on the Lovely Extravaganza, which included guest appearances by Lady Miss Kier, RuPaul, Martyn Phillips, and Filthy the Dog. World of Wonder was organized initially in order to manage the Fabulous Pop Tarts, and to enable projects in television production and licensing, documentary film-making, and in helping to build the careers of their friends and fellow artists, particularly RuPaul.
World of Wonder notably shares its name with one of its early television documentaries, Died on the 4th of July: Nelson Sullivan's World of Wonder. Nelson Sullivan was a central figure in the downtown New York City art and club scene of the 1980s, obsessively videotaping everyone and everything he saw before dying of a heart attack on July 4, 1989. He left behind over 1800 hours of video footage that he'd shot over the last ten years of his life. From this archive World of Wonder created the one-hour documentary portrait of Nelson which aired on UK's Channel 4, and is also included on the DVD release of Party Monster: The Shockumentary.
Television and film productions
World of Wonder primarily produces television content for networks in the US and UK, including BBC, Channel 4, FIVE, HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, A&E, MTV, VH1, Bravo TV, Oxygen, Sky, Discovery and Living TV. Well known recent productions include RuPaul's Drag Race, Tori & Dean: Inn Love, Good Work, Million Dollar Listing, Heli-Loggers, and Pam Anderson: Girl on the Loose. World of Wonder also produced the documentary series One Punk Under God, Sex Change Hospital and TransGeneration, which won the 2006 GLAAD Award for Outstanding Documentary.
The company produces RuPaul's television show The RuPaul Show, as well as the RuPaul's Drag Race franchise, which consists of RuPaul's Drag Race and RuPaul's All Stars Drag Race, spinoff series RuPaul's Drag U (which was canceled in 2012 after three seasons), and RuPaul's Drag Race: Untucked, a behind-the-scenes after show which airs immediately after every new episode of the original and All-Star series. Since its creation, RuPaul's Drag Race has led to record-breaking ratings hit for Viacom's Logo channel, and has completed eight seasons and two seasons of All Stars on Logo, VH1 and OUTtv in Canada. RuPaul's Drag Race has been renewed for a ninth season.
In addition to numerous television productions, World of Wonder has also produced several feature-length documentaries such as The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Party Monster: The Shockumentary, and The Last Beekeeper, as well as the feature film, Party Monster, starring Macaulay Culkin and Seth Green.
Their company blog, The WOW Report, was named the "Best Counter Culture Blog" by LA Weekly in 2011. Million Dollar Listing New York was a 2015 Emmy Award nominee for Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program. RuPaul's Drag Race won the 2014 TCA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Reality Programming. Big Freedia (Fuse) won the 2014 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Reality Program. Barbato and Bailey were given the IDA Pioneer Award in December 2014, "celebrating exceptional achievement, leadership, and vision in the nonfiction and documentary community.". Mapplethorpe: Look At The Picture has been nominated for two awards at the 2016 Emmy awards, for "Outstanding Cinematography For A Nonfiction Program" and "Outstanding Documentary or Nonfictional Special".
- Kilday, Gregg (October 2, 2014). "Robert Redford to Be Honored by International Documentary Association". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 2017-01-31.
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- Barnes, Brooks (January 22, 2016). "Interview: The Directors Behind a Mapplethorpe Documentary". New York TImes. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
- Gleibermann, Owen (January 23, 2016). "Sundance Review - Mapplethorpe: Look at the pictures". British Broadcast Corporation. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
- Knight, Christopher (March 3, 2016). "How Robert Mapplethorpe went from America's pariah to America's sweetheart". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
- Brian Mansfield (November 14, 2013). "E! to air 'I Am Britney Jean' Spears documentary". USA Today. Retrieved November 16, 2013.
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- "2014 IDA Documentary Awards". International Documentary Association. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
- "IDA Awards: Netflix's Ted Sarandos to Receive Special Honor (Exclusive)". Hollywood Reporter. October 15, 2015. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
- Lewis, Dave (July 14, 2016). "Compete list of 2016 Emmy Nominations". LA Times. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
- Bailey, Fenton; Barbato, Randy (2013). The World According to Wonder. Hollywood: World of Wonder Productions. ISBN 0-9855834-0-1.
- Vargas-Cooper, Natasha (February 2013). "Freakshow: World of Wonder is Hollywood's Nuttiest Production Company". Out.