In a move sure to make the stars at night shine big and bright, HBO Documentary Films have announced plans to produce a Paul Reubens documentary, co-produced by Uncut Gems and Good Time directors Josh and Benny Safdie. Reubens is of course better known to many as the grey-suited, bow-tied Pee-wee Herman.
Reubens was a stand-up comedian when the Pee-wee character came about in the late ‘70s, blowing up in 1981 with The Pee-wee Herman Show, which premiered on HBO. “I’ve been working with HBO since they were called Home Box Office,” Reubens said in the documentary announcement, saying he was “honored and excited to continue [his] long history there.” The Pee-wee Herman Show ran until 1984, followed by Tim Burton’s feature Pee-wee Big Adventure in ‘85, which performed well at the box office and remains a cult favorite. Pee-wee’s Playhouse on CBS followed Big Adventure.
The documentary is said to be coming in two parts, featuring a “kaleidoscopic portrait” on Reubens. Director Matt Wolf insisted that for as much as the world knows and loves Pee-wee Herman, the upcoming documentary is “for the world to meet Paul Reubens.”
The documentary also produced by Emma Tillinger Koskoff, who called Reubens a “once-in-a-generation talent whose brilliance created an indelible pop culture phenomenon.” Certainly, you can see traces of Pee-wee from SpongeBob to some of the more gonzo Adult Swim productions, so the praise feels appropriate.
Pee-wee was last seen in 2016’s Netflix film Pee-wee’s Big Holiday, with Reubens largely remaining private in recent years. There were murmurs some time ago of Pee-wee returning in a rather dark, Safdies-directed feature, though this would indicate that’s morphed into something a bit more… positive? Hopefully the HBO doc serves as a monument to Reubens’ character, as well as a genuine education on the man behind the Playhouse.