HBO has been featuring a lot of sports documentaries recently, from Andre The Giant to the Emmy-winning Momentum Generation (surfing) to At The Heart of Gold (USA Gymnastics and the Larry Nassar scandal). They have more in the works, too, with Diego Maradona set for a September 24 premiere and Lindsey Vonn: The Final Season premiering November 26. And now, HBO Sports has announced plans to premiere another documentary, but one that’s exploring a less traditional sports arena; competitive dog grooming. That would be Well Groomed, from director Rebecca Stern, which will premiere on HBO in December. Here’s more on it from HBO’s release:
From Director Rebecca Stern, WELL GROOMED chronicles a year in the visually stunning world of competitive and creative dog grooming and follows the lives of a group of dog lovers whose dedication to transforming their beloved poodles into living sculptures is bold, imaginative and eye-opening. Debuting in December on HBO, the film is a vibrant dive into a colorful and glittery subculture of Americana, and tells an extraordinary tale of pets, families, friendships and the glory of creativity through a bright prism of color.
…Says Bill Simmons, founder of The Ringer, and an HBO executive producer on the project: “Well Groomed takes viewers into the imaginative and obsessive world of competitive dog grooming. Director Rebecca Stern and her team‘s documentary introduce many memorable characters — both human and canine.”
“I’m thrilled to have HBO Sports as a home for WELL GROOMED,” says director Rebecca Stern. “The film explores a world where competition, art and animals combine in the most vivid color and is a perfect match for the HBO Sports ethos of innovative programming.”
This is far from the first time programming focused on dogs has wound up in sports programming listings. Back in 2015, Fox Sports picked up Westminster Kennel Dog Show rights beginning in 2017 (the show aired on USA from 1984-2016), and their coverage so far has featured sports personalities like Shannon Sharpe, Chris Myers, Jenny Taft and Justin Kutcher. Meanwhile, ESPN is doing an “ESPN Dog Day” on Saturday, August 24, airing six hours of dog-related programming on ESPN2 and then repeating much of it on ESPNEWS. (Interestingly enough, that’s hosted by Katie Nolan, who was involved in Fox’s 2017 Westminster coverage.) So it’s notable to see even more dog content winding up in sports.
It’s also interesting to see Simmons listed as an executive producer for HBO on this project (alongside Peter Nelson, executive vice president, HBO Sports). He received that credit as well for Diego Maradona and Momentum Generation, and he was an executive producer on Andre The Giant (which was produced by HBO, WWE, and the Bill Simmons Media Group). So Simmons is doing a fair bit on the documentary side for HBO, which makes sense considering his role in the 30 for 30 series at ESPN.
As for Well Groomed, it’s already received some buzz. The 60-minute film debuted at SXSW in March, and it picked up some pretty positive reviews there and afterwards. Here’s the trailer for it from SXSW:
Well Groomed will premiere on HBO’s linear and digital platforms in December.