Oprah Winfrey’s OWN to Air Webby-Winning Docu-Series ‘The Specials’

/ Aug 28, 2014


Webby Award-winning web series “The Specials” has been picked up by The Oprah Winfrey Network, which will air the show in the US starting September 7.

Produced by Katy Lock and Daniel May of KADA Media, “The Specials” is an observational documentary from the UK about a group of five housemates with intellectual disabilities. Filmed over a four-year period, the show follows the five friends — all in their 20s — as they deal with everything from first loves to battling over the remote control.

Originally produced as a short-form series with 10-minute episodes, the OWN version will feature “fresh, newly adapted episodes” following the housemates as they continue to support each other through life’s trials and tribulations.

In total, OWN will broadcast 13 half-hour episodes back-to-back via a marathon beginning at 2:30pm on September 7.

The story of how “The Specials” was made, and how it will soon air on US television, is as heartwarming as its subjects. The show was financed and edited independently by Lock and May after being turned down by UK TV broadcasters. Despite winning the Webby Award for Best Reality Show in 2010, the creators soon ran out of cash and had to halt the project.

Help came in the form of a couple of unexpected — and famous — faces. DB Weiss, one of the showrunners of the HBO hit “Game of Thrones,” and Carolyn Strauss, the former president of entertainment at HBO, discovered the series and sought out the creators.

“Katy and Dan present the gang as exactly what they are: completely familiar, multifaceted, fundamentally decent people who also happen to be hilarious,” said Weiss in a statement. “It felt like a tremendous shame that more people weren’t aware of this singular piece of work.”

Soon after, Weiss and Strauss, in partnership with Rosie O’Donnell, took the show to Winfrey, who acquired the rights to air it in the US on OWN. If successful, the creators hope to bring the show back to the UK broadcasters.

Executive producers for the US TV version of “The Specials” include Weiss, Strauss, O’Donnell, Winfrey, and OWN co-president Sheri Salata. Electric Sky is handling international distribution.

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