Earlier this year, Francis Whately's documentary, David Bowie: The Last Five Years, premiered on the BBC. A month later, HBO acquired the U.S. rights and they will broadcast it next year.

Thew film chronicles the work Bowie spent on his last two albums, 2013's The Next Day and 2016's Blackstar, and the Lazarus off-Broadway musical. However, as Whately told Rolling Stone, he was unable to get an interview with the famously private star. "I had sleepless nights thinking, 'How am I going to fill 90 minutes without any footage?' " Whately, who also made a documentary in 2013 called David Bowie: Five Years, said. "I was really worried."

Instead, he spoke with the musicians who worked on Blackstar, which came out only two days before Bowie's 2016 death, video director Johan Renck and longtime producer Tony Visconti, who played some demos of the songs he wrote for that final album. Footage from Bowie's last tour, in support of Reality, is incorporated into the early part of the film.

But even though Whately wasn't able to speak on the record with his subject, Bowie kept in touch with the director. "Near the end of his life, he wrote to see how I was doing," Whately added. "He said to me, 'I'm very happy with my lot in life and the new album. What more can any man ask for?' It really showed the dignity of the man."

According to HBO's website, David Bowie: The Last Five Years is scheduled to air on Jan. 8, 2018, which would have been Bowie's 71st birthday, at 8PM Eastern.


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