De Passe Entertainment

De Passe Entertainment

de Passe Entertainment is an American film and television production company run by entertainment executive Suzanne de Passe. The company was originally founded by Berry Gordy, Jr. in 1968 as Motown Productions, the film and television arm of Gordy's Motown Records label.


Motown Productions' original focus was on the production of television specials for its star recording artists. These included "TCB" (1968) and "G.I.T. on Broadway" (1969), starring Diana Ross & the Supremes with The Temptations, "The Temptations Show" (also 1969), "The Smokey Robinson Show" (1970), "Diana!" (1971) starring Diana Ross, and "Goin' Back to Indiana" (also 1971) starring The Jackson 5. When Suzanne de Passe joined Motown in 1968, much of her work involved the production of these television specials. Motown's first television series was "The Jackson 5ive" (1971 - 1973), a Saturday morning cartoon by Rankin-Bass starring characters based upon Motown's popular teen act.

The company's first feature film was "Lady Sings the Blues" (1972), a Billie Holliday biographical film starring Diana Ross as Holliday and Billy Dee Williams as her husband Louis McKay. After "Lady Sings the Blues" became a success, garnering box office success and five Academy Award nominations, Ross and Williams were paired for a second feature, "Mahogany" (1975). Both films were coupled with successful music releases: "Lady Sings the Blues" was accompanied with a platinum-selling soundtrack album by Ross, while "Mahogany" featured Ross' number-one pop hit "Theme from "Mahogany" (Do You Know Where You're Going To)" Other Motown films included "Scott Joplin" (1977), another musician biopic starring Billy Dee Williams, and "Thank God It's Friday" (1978), which starred Donna Summer and featured her hit song "Last Dance".

Following the commercial and critical failure of Motown's eighth film, a 1978 adaptation of the Broadway musical "The Wiz" staring Diana Ross and the Jackson 5's Michael Jackson, the company focused more closely on television. Its productions during the late 1970s and early 1980s included TV movies such as "Amateur Night at the Dixie Bar and Grill," (1979) and "Callie & Son" (1981) and TV specials such as the popular and successful "" (1983). "Motown 25", an anniversary special for the Motown Records label, was most noted for featuring Michael Jackson's famous performance of his non-Motown hit song "Billie Jean". By this time, Suzanne de Passe had become the executive producer in charge of Motown's film and TV products. Motown briefly returned to feature films with "Berry Gordy's The Last Dragon", which became Motown's final theatrical feature.

In 1988, Gordy sold Motown Records to Music Corporation of America. The following year, he sold Motown Productions to de Passe, and the company continued its success in television with the popular miniseries "Lonesome Dove" (1989). A sequel, "Streets of Laredo", would follow in 1995. Changing its name to "de Passe Entertainment" in 1992, the company has produced a number of successful TV programs, among them "Sister, Sister" (1994 - 1999), "Smart Guy" (1997 - 1999), and "It's Showtime at the Apollo" (produced by de Passe from 2002 to the present). Successful TV specials from the company include Motown biopics such as "" (1992) and "The Temptations" (1998), "The Loretta Claiborne Story" (2000), and the Essence Awards and NAACP Image Awards telecasts. de Passe Entertainment also produced the feature films "Class Act" (1992), starring rappers Kid 'n Play, and "Who's the Man?" (1993), starring hip-hop radio personalities Doctor Dre and Ed Lover.


;Motown Productions:
*"Lady Sings the Blues" (1972, Paramount Pictures)
*"Mahogany" (1975, Paramount Pictures)
*"The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings" (1976, Universal Pictures)
*"Scott Joplin" (1977, Universal Pictures)
*"Big Time" (1977, WorldWide Pictures)
*"Thank God It's Friday" (1978, Columbia Pictures)
*"Almost Summer" (1978, Universal Pictures)
*"The Wiz" (1978, Universal Pictures)
*"Berry Gordy's The Last Dragon" (1985, TriStar Pictures)

;de Passe Entertainment:
*"Class Act" (1992, Warner Bros.)
*"Who's the Man?" (1993, New Line Cinema)

Notable television films, miniseries, and specials

;Motown Productions:
*"TCB" (1968, NBC)
*"G.I.T. on Broadway" (1969, NBC)
*"Diana!" (1971, NBC)
*"Goin' Back to Indiana" (1971, ABC)
*"An Evening with Diana Ross" (1977, NBC)
*"Amateur Night at the Dixie Bar and Grill" (1979, NBC)
*"Callie & Son" (1981, CBS)
*"" (1983, NBC)
*"Motown Returns to the Apollo" (1985, NBC)
*"Marvin Gaye" (1987, Showtime)
*"Lonesome Dove" (1989, CBS)
*"" (1992, ABC)

;de Passe Entertainment:
*"Streets of Laredo" (1995, CBS)
*"The Temptations" (1998)
*"Motown 40: The Music is Forever" (1998)
*"" (2001)
*"Motown 45" (2004)
*"" (2004)

Notable television series

;Motown Productions:
*"The Jackson 5ive" (1971 - 1973, ABC; with Rankin-Bass)

;de Passe Entertainment:
*"Sister, Sister" (1994 - 1999, ABC/WB)
*"Smart Guy" (1997 - 1999, WB)
*"It's Showtime at the Apollo" (2002 - present)
*"All American Girl" (2003, ABC/ABC Family)
*"On Our Own" (1994 - 1995, ABC)
*"Super WHY!" (2007, PBS)

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