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Fenton Bailey
(July 18, 1960 - living) U.K.

Fenton Bailey

Documentary writer, producer and director

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Born in Great Britain, Bailey attended graduate film school in the U.S. at New York University, where he met his life and business partner Barbato. The pair dropped out of school to form their production company World of Wonder in 1990; they also performed as a tongue-in-cheek musical duo called the Pop Tarts. Bailey and Barbato turned to filmmaking in earnest, however, when they decided to amuse themselves by editing together choice clips from New York City's racy and bizarre public access cable TV shows, and turned it into the British TV series Manhattan Cable.

Though New York remained a source of creative inspiration, Bailey and Barbato moved to Los Angeles in the mid-'90s. They began to attract serious attention as documentary directors with the Emmy-winning Cinemax program Party Monster, about the strange life and ignominious downfall of New York club kid-turned-murderer Michael Alig. Adding Los Angeles subjects to their repertoire, Bailey and Barbato also produced Juror Number 5: 58 Days of Duty on the O.J. Simpson Civil Trial, and garnered accolades again for the Cinemax documentary 101 Rent Boys, about 101 male hustlers who work L.A.'s Santa Monica Boulevard.

Barbato & BaileyBailey and Barbato that same year made the fond yet humorous documentary The Eyes of Tammy Faye. Impressed by Tammy Faye Bakker when they met with her about a possible TV project, Bailey and Barbato decided to make a feature documentary about her instead. Gaining access to Tammy Faye's circle, as well as Tammy Faye herself, The Eyes of Tammy Faye showed that the title subject was more than her infamous makeup sense and tarnished image as the equally greedy wife of fallen PTL leader Bakker.

Bailey and Barbato subsequently merged their focus on famous outsiders with their interest in illuminating previously little-known aspects of pop culture history with the AMC documentary Out of the Closet, Off the Screen: The William Haines Story, about the silent film star who refused to deny his homosexuality and was blackballed by the movie studios in the 1930s.

Bailey and Barbato finally tried their hands at scripted feature films with the adaptation of Party Monster in 2003. Based on their own documentary as well as fellow club kid James St. James' book Disco Bloodbath, and shot with "realistic" flair in digital video, Party Monster recreated the New York night club scene in all its jaw-dropping glory, and allowed Macaulay Culkin to lose his cherubic child-star image for good with his star turn as the floridly costumed, sexually flamboyant, drug-addled Alig.

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Source: excerpts from: Lucia Bozzola, All Movie Guide

Work:

  • The Eyes of Tammy Faye (1998)
  • Party Monster (1998)
  • Juror Number 5: 58 Days of Duty on the O.J. Simpson Civil Trial (1998)
  • 101 Rent Boys (2000)
  • Out of the Closet, Off the Screen: The William Haines Story (2001)
  • From the Waist Down: Men, Women & Music (2001)
  • Andy Warhol: The Complete Picture (2002)
  • Monica in Black and White (2002)
  • School's Out: The Life of a Gay High School in Texas (2003)
  • Dark Roots: The Unauthorized Anna Nicole (2003)
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