The publicity blurb describes it as ‘unprecedented’, and certainly all the indications are that the forthcoming six-part Harry & Meghan conflagration on Netflix will make the bombshells of that Oprah interview look like a little local difficulty.
Over six beautifully lit and shot and slickly edited hours, we will have Harry and Meghan speaking at length about the paradise they have found in California, and in each other.
Alongside that heart-warming love story will be a stark reckoning for those who are deemed to have been racist, and those whom Prince Harry believes endangered his wife, inside and outside the palace.
His family, who caused him to quit what he refers to snippily as ‘my previous job’, can expect a frank assessment of their failures in his eyes, too.
Netflix confirms that backing him up will be ‘family and friends’ who will talk about the impact of ‘Megxit’ and the run-up to it — and why they ‘had’ to go.
It’s predicted that Meghan’s mother, Doria, will be the one and only family member on camera, making her media debut.
The publicity blurb describes it as ‘unprecedented’, and certainly all the indications are that the forthcoming six-part Harry & Meghan conflagration on Netflix will make the bombshells of that Oprah interview look like a little local difficulty
Meghan, famously, is not on speaking terms with anyone else in her family — and it’s hard to imagine that any of Harry’s family will be tripping over themselves to take part.
There’s speculation that British Vogue editor Edward Enninful will speak about her time in the UK.
There’s talk, too, about a role for Meghan’s long-time best pal Markus Anderson, who was there when their romance flourished and accorded a prime seat at the wedding. Yesterday, friends of Anderson said they would be surprised if the famously discreet Soho House executive had been lured into saying a word — but then, if he was given the nod by Meghan, perhaps those scruples could be overcome.
One source familiar with the dramas behind the scenes say ‘nothing will be the quite same after it’ — not least Harry’s once-warm relationship with Netflix boss, Ted Sarandos.
Sources say that bromance is in ashes after two years of building tension over the what, how and when of the Sussexes’ ‘tell-all.’
One huge cause of rows was the fact Netflix had paid top dollar (and beyond) for the couple, and then found their stars apparently ‘slow’ and ‘uncooperative’.
Particular fury was unleashed when the couple apparently wanted to delay the painstakingly edited show yet again after the Queen’s death in September.
Alongside a heart-warming love story will be a stark reckoning for those who are deemed to have been racist, and those whom Prince Harry believes endangered his wife, inside and outside the palace. Pictured: a scene from the trailer, released yesterday
Sarandos — by all accounts a decent man who is noted in Hollywood for his even temper — is said to have ‘hit the roof’ at the suggestion Netflix might put the show out at some point in early 2023.
Friends of the couple were so sure they had won the argument that they leaked, to the website Deadline, that Netflix had ‘blinked first’ and given in to their demands.
In reality, that didn’t happen.
Instead, Sarandos is said to have insisted that the show go out in December, on the heels of the hit Netflix drama series The Crown.
Harry’s memoir, Spare, will be published on January 10. Given the official Netflix trailer had 105,000 dislikes and 15,000 likes on YouTube as of yesterday, it will be interesting to see how the series is received when it airs next Thursday.
Matters are now so fraught that there is speculation from well-placed sources that the £88 million deal between Netflix and Harry and Meghan may be quietly dismantled in the New Year.
Where this might leave the couple financially is an open question, as deals such as theirs typically involve a small sum of money upfront, with the rest to come when shows go into production.
Netflix confirms that backing him up will be ‘family and friends’ who will talk about the impact of ‘Megxit’ and the run-up to it — and why they ‘had’ to go. Pictured: a scene from the trailer
Someone who is familiar with the dramas, says: ‘Netflix had to bully them into screening it this year — they wanted to hold back till next year. ‘The problem was that they got nervous after the [Queen’s] funeral about how it would all play out. I heard they also wanted to edit heaps out and it was like, ‘nope’.’
That may explain why Meghan distanced herself from the show, saying it tells ‘our story through someone else’s lens’ in an interview with Variety magazine in October.
She added: ‘It’s nice to be able to trust someone with our story — a seasoned director whose work I have long admired — even if it means it may not be the way we would have told it.’
A Netflix spokesman did not deny the conflicts, but said: ‘We value our partnership with Archewell Productions and are excited to share Harry & Meghan, the series, with the world.
‘We continue to work together on a number of projects, including Heart Of Invictus.’
Sarandos was not the only one to find the show a serious headache behind the scenes.
Original director Garrett Bradley — handpicked by Meghan — was replaced by Liz Garbus in 2021 after filming had started.
I’m told that Bradley, an award-winning talent who produced an exceptional documentary about the tennis player Naomi Osaka, felt unable to continue.
It’s predicted that Meghan’s mother, Doria (pictured together in 2018), will be the one and only family member on camera, making her media debut
The New York Post’s Page Six reported: ‘Garrett wanted Harry and Meghan to film at home and they were not comfortable doing that. There were a few sticky moments between them, and Garrett left the project.
‘Harry and Meghan’s own production company captured as much footage as they could before Liz Garbus was hired.’
The genesis of this unexploded bomb of a show lies way back in 2020.
That September, more than six months after the drama of Megxit and having been wooed by various broadcasters, Harry and Meghan signed a deal with Netflix. It was meant to see them make documentaries, docu-series, feature films, scripted shows and children’s programming. In a statement the couple said: ‘Our focus will be on creating content that informs but also gives hope. As new parents, making inspirational family programming is important to us.’
They added that Netflix’s ‘unprecedented reach will help us share impactful content that unlocks action’.
The first project announced was Pearl, an animated series to be made by Archewell Productions, the Sussexes’ company. It was to tell the adventures of a 12-year-old girl who is inspired by influential women from history. Then last May, Netflix announced that Pearl had been scrapped — along with some other animated projects.
The only other announced production in the works aside from this tell-all series is the Heart Of Invictus documentary, about the athletes competing in the event for injured veterans.
There’s talk about a role for Meghan’s long-time best pal Markus Anderson (pictured together left in 2014), who was there when their romance flourished and accorded a prime seat at the wedding (pictured right at the wedding with Izzy May)
Meanwhile, despite the pandemic, Meghan and Harry created their own team, hiring (at presumably huge expense) a large number of outstanding people. Among them were Chanel Pysnik, as Archewell’s head of unscripted content, who joined them in July 2021 from Disney+, and Oscar-nominated Ben Browning, Archewell’s head of content, who was involved in the making of the film Promising Young Woman.
Both of them are credited as executive producers on Harry & Meghan and both seem to have stepped into the breach between Bradley leaving and Garbus taking the reins to collect footage of Harry and Meghan and their emotional rollercoaster in Montecito.
Liz Garbus declined to comment on the show yesterday, but sources say there were also tussles between her and the couple because ‘Meg thought she was the director’.
Whether this is right or not, by the middle of this year, talk was swirling that there were some serious issues ‘in the edit’. As Harry finalised his book, it seems there was some disparity between what he had thrashed out with ghost writer J. R. Moehringer, and what Harry and Meghan had said to Garbus.
Enter ‘the doc whisperer’, Mark Monroe. He worked on the award-winning documentary about Russian doping, Icarus, and is renowned as the man to turn to if you hit a creative block, have a problem with your talking heads or have simply got bogged down.
One source familiar with the dramas behind the scenes say ‘nothing will be the quite same after it’ — not least Harry’s once-warm relationship with Netflix boss, Ted Sarandos (pictured last week)
In an interview he explained that you have to get viewers on the ‘movie train’. He said: ‘The train means the communal emotions of watching a film. You want to get people on and stay invested in the story. People fall off the train when they are confused or there’s a lack of clarity . . . [or] boredom.’
He famously creates a ‘story map’ for documentary directors. He explained: ‘They [the story maps] are only meant to put you in the ballpark of an idea. Then once you’re in the middle of it, hopefully great, magical things happen.’
He adds: ‘I’m like a plumber. I’m just trying to diagnose what’s wrong or what I think is wrong, and usually it has to do with engagement and clarity. That’s it.’
Garbus is surely fortunate to have had Monroe and his talents at her disposal.
All the more so as sources say the couple were initially uncomfortable to do anything unscripted on camera — if true, a big stumbling block when making an ‘at home’ about their innermost feelings.
Garbus, though, is a steely figure who brings her own clout and contacts. Her partner in the Moxie Firecracker films company is Rory Kennedy, daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy.
By amazing coincidence, Rory’s sister, Kerry Kennedy, will present Meghan and Harry with the Ripple of Hope award for overcoming institutional racism in the Royal Family at a ceremony in New York on Tuesday — two days before the Netflix documentary is finally aired.
Harry’s memoir, Spare, will be published on January 10. Given the official Netflix trailer had 105,000 dislikes and 15,000 likes on YouTube as of yesterday, it will be interesting to see how the series is received when it airs next Thursday
As ever with the Sussexes, the optics of the night will be immaculate. This week, Meghan attended an event in a Marriott hotel in Indianapolis and managed to make that nondescript space look elevated with floral design, lighting and pictures of her and Harry placed on every table.
The Sussexes do things very much their way, no matter the pressure. On the eve of the Netflix release, Meghan was booked as a guest on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, which is filmed in New York. But, embarrassingly for NBC, it then emerged that she wasn’t going to appear shortly after the broadcaster announced that she was.
One version of the inside story says she wanted to be on The Tonight Show only if she was given the rare honour of being the only guest. Another is that she didn’t want to appear without Harry, as the message of their unity as a couple is key.
What it demonstrated in the end is that, as Harry famously said during an argument over a wedding tiara: ‘What Meghan wants, Meghan gets.’
And soon, we shall see just how damaging that can be for the House of Windsor.