The film company that once created a reality TV program featuring D.C. Council member Marion Barry has been awarded a city contract to make a documentary about Barry's ward.
May 3rd Films, the company behind the reality show "Mayor For Life," has been awarded $12,000 to create a documentary for Marion Barry's office. The contract, obtained by WAMU through a freedom of information act (FOIA) request, stipulates that the company will "create a 30-minute film exploring the rich history of Ward 8."
The taxpayer-funded film will be about how his ward has transformed over the years, Barry says.
"Ward 8 has had a negative image over the years," Barry says. "Since I have been in office, I have worked awfully hard to change the image but change the physical stature of ward 8."
May 3rd Films is led by filmmaker Kirk Fraser. In addition to creating the reality show pilot featuring Marion Barry — which was never picked up by a TV network — Fraser also created an acclaimed documentary for ESPN on the life and death of Maryland basketball star Len Bias.
Barry bristled when asked if there were any issues with awarding the contract to the company behind his reality show.
"What's the conflict of interest? I didn't award them a contract," Barry says. "We put out a need. The secretary's office looked at two or three other things. This is a very personal thing! So why are you raising things that aren't relevant. Stop doing that."
But there were no other bidders for the contract, according to D.C. Council secretary Nyasha Smith. And the secretary's office did not award it; it was a non-personal service contract that came out of Barry's office, she says.
According to Fraser, Barry reached out to him about the project and talked about his vision of Ward 8. Fraser told WAMU 88.5 in an email the project will include interviews with former mayors as well. There's still no word on when shooting starts or when the film will air.
Interestingly, the "Mayor For Life" project followed Barry around on the day he was censured by his colleagues for, among other things, misusing his office's service contracts.D.C. Council Contact PO426489 With May 3rd Films