“Tonight is not about Yeezus. It’s about Jesus,” said DeVon Franklin, the TV and film producer, bestselling author and VP of the Motion Picture Academy’s board of governors, introducing a panel at NeueHouse in Hollywood this week. It was both, of course, as the event he was leading was sponsored by Netflix and at least ostensibly in the service of promoting discussion about “Jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy,” the three-part documentary about hip-hop titan Kanye West that just rolled out over three weeks on the streaming service. Franklin wasn’t being misleading, though: Yahweh mentions did at least slightly beat out Ye shout-outs during the two-hour discussion, although there was no mistaking that the promise of discussing pop culture’s most polarizing figure was the chief lure for the members of L.A.’s Black church community that primarily made up the full house.
So is “Jeen-yuhs” really a faith-based film? Its makers say yes, even though no one reviewing the streaming doc so far has thought to call it a Christian film, per se. That’s a textual undercurrent to the documentary that culminated this week in what surely had to be a first for Netflix, in sponsoring an event at the tony NeueHouse that sometimes veered closer to a quiet revival meeting than a Kanye-related talkfest.
Besides co-directors Simmons and Chike Ozah, Netflix’s “Jeen-yuhs conversation on faith and culture” also brought in leading gospel music star Kirk Franklin; nationally known pastor and inspirational author Michael Todd; poet J. Ivy (who co-wrote the “Jeen-yuhs” script); and panel host DeVon Franklin, who is executive-producing CBS’ upcoming reboot of “Early Edition” and has current or recent deals with Sony, Disney, Paramount, Searchlight, BET Plus and, of course, Netflix.