After taking a trip to Mister Rogers’ neighborhood, Morgan Neville is visiting the vaunted halls of Shangri-La — Rick Rubin’s iconic Malibu recording studio nestled in the remote, beachside wilderness and home to legendary sessions from artists like Adele, Eminem, Jay-Z, Lady Gaga, and more.
The four-part documentary series “Shangri-La” is a collaboration between Neville, who directed the first two episodes, Jeff Malmberg (who directs the last two), and Rubin himself, who’s on board as an executive producer. Per Showtime’s official synopsis, the series focuses on the creative conversation and emotional side of making music, as Neville interviews Rubin and his visiting musicians inside the peaceful estate.
Rubin co-founded Def Jam Records while enrolled at NYU in the ’80s, and the bearded producer helped launch everyone from Public Enemy to the Beastie Boys under the label. He went on to run American Recording and Columbia Records, but it’s his unique interaction with artists that’s helped set him apart in the music industry (along with dozens and dozens of Grammys).
“Rick has an incredible biography,” Neville said following a preview screening at SXSW. “You could tell that story, but Rick has no interest in telling that story. The one thing we could agree on is if you could watch this show and come away with what it’s like to be produced by Rick, that works for us.”
Rubin studies transcendental meditation, so it should come as no surprise that David Lynch pops in for an extended conversation, but the producer’s interest in magic also brings David Blaine to the studio. Actual recording artists featured in the documentary include Tyler the Creator, LL Cool J, The Avett Brothers, and more.
“Shangri-La” will premiere Friday, July 12 at 9 p.m. ET on Showtime. New episodes will be released on linear channels weekly, but the full four-episode docu-series will be available on July 12 via VOD and Showtime’s streaming services. Watch the hypnotic trailer below, as well as a previously released teaser video for the doc.