On January 22 at 11 P.M. Eastern, HBO will premiere the first episode of Painting With John, an autobiographical docuseries starring and narrated by Grammy-nominated avant-garde musician, actor and visual artist John Lurie (The Last Temptation of Christ, Stranger Than Paradise), according to TV Line. Five additional half-hour episodes are set to be aired on a weekly basis until February 26, as reported by The Futon Critic.
Lurie is no stranger to the television world. In the early 1990’s, he created the cult hit Fishing With John for Bravo, a parody of celebrity travel shows. Lurie’s fishing buddies included his Last Temptation of Christ co-star Willem Dafoe (Siberia), Oscar nominee Dennis Hopper (Blue Velvet) and acclaimed indie film director Jim Jarmusch (Paterson). Lurie’s other major connection to the travel show genre is that he was the final guest on Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, Eater reports. Bourdain (No Reservations) reportedly purchased one of Lurie’s paintings less than two weeks before he took his own life, as reported by ArtNet News.
Painting With John may bear a similar title to Lurie’s travel series, but this time around, there are no celebrity chums in sight: “Instead of filming Lurie fishing with his friends, Painting With John mostly just spends time with Lurie and occasionally his longtime assistant Nesrin Wolf and his other employee Ann Mary Gludd James. Set mostly in his home on an undisclosed Caribbean island, the show… leisurely documents the artist as he goes about his day [and]… reminisces about his life and career,” via Vice.
Wolf was reportedly instrumental in establishing the show’s casual, meditative tone from the very beginning, according to Lurie’s interview with Relix. “I had invented this [painting] technique that I knew I wasn’t going to remember how I had done it… So Nesrin was videoing me with her phone, so I would have some idea how I had done this technique. While we were shooting, we started teasing each other, which we do all day long. But it was funny and kind of delightful. So we thought we would just film some stuff to put on my website or on Instagram. To cheer people up a bit… It was just going to be little one-minute things. But then it grew,” Lurie recalled, via Relix.
Lurie had allegedly not given serious consideration to Painting With John‘s distribution plan. According to his interview with Rolling Stone, HBO got in touch with him through producer Adam McKay (Nice White Parents). “I didn’t expect this was going to go to HBO. I was just doing this little thing and and then Adam McKay saw it and said, ‘I’m going to get this seen,’ and then it’s like, ‘HBO wants it.’ It’s like, ‘Really?’ So I’m a little unprepared for what’s gonna happen next,” Lurie admitted, via Rolling Stone.
HBO has compiled an official hour-long Spotify playlist for the show that features tunes from nearly every stage of Lurie’s music career. Take a listen below: