How Tom Brady & Robert Kraft Got Brian Grazer Into The Huddle For The New England Patriots Docuseries ‘The Dynasty’

EXCLUSIVE: No stranger to telling compelling stories about real-life figures who overcome incredible odds, Imagine Entertainment co-founder Brian Grazer is set to unveil his new passion project based on one of the great dynasties in sports.

Imagine’s new 10-episode Apple TV+ docuseries The Dynasty: New England Patriots premieres Friday and is sure to excite not only NFL still craving football following the Super Bowl, but also surprise with some of its eye-opening revelations.

Grazer, along with his Imagine partner Ron Howard and director Matthew Hamacheck, tells a compelling and riveting story using never-before-seen on-the-field and behind-the-scenes footage as well as on-the-record interviews that rival the Michael Jordan doc The Last Dance. The list of NFL and Patriots talking heads includes NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Hall of fame defensive end Michael Strahan, longtime coach Bill Belichick and of course Tom Brady.

Grazer says the idea for The Dynasty came together owing to his relationship with Patriots owner Robert Craft and Brady, who he first met in 2014 at an Activision conference.

As the relationships grew, Grazer says Kraft mentioned a book being written on the Patriots dynasty (from 2001-2018 under Belichick and Brady, the team played in nine Super Bowls and won six, setting numerous NFL records along the way) and asked if they had any interest in a potential series.

Grazer sat down with Deadline recently to talk about The Dynasty, how they were able to get so many people to participate and why he and Imagine are still drawn to stories about real-life people. It comes during a busy time at the company, which recently bowed its Disney+ series Choir and the Nat Geo anthology series Genius: MLK/X and is working on the upcoming docs The Truth About Jim at Max and one on Stormy Daniels set for later this year on Peacock.

[This interview has been edited for clarity.]

DEADLINE: Obviously your relationship with Bob Kraft and Tom Brady over the years helped in creating The Dynasty, but I wonder if you could go over how this kind of all came together, and also how Matt got involved because the way he kind of told the story was just fantastic.

BRIAN GRAZER: I got to know Bob Kraft right after his wife died, so it’s like 2012 or so, and we really just became fast friends and like, guy buddies, and now we are in two guy groups together. So, we appreciate the brotherhood of friendship like that. I didn’t know much about the New England Patriots and I know about the same about just the NFL itself. It wasn’t a big thing I was doing, following football, so it wasn’t like I was a huge fan or anything, I just liked Bob.

Then about six months later, I did a speech and happened to be coincidentally with Tom Brady. It was at Activision, and I learned about the various things that I would have never known a quarterback would do or know, which is, you know, maintain 150 plays in their head, being able to access those plays in milliseconds, you know, the soulful nature of Tom Brady, and I was able to see that in the locker room how unifying that was.

So, that was just sort of, ended up meeting these two guys within the same year. What I found out started [my interest], and then I went to a couple of games, and again, I went into a locker room and I saw even when they had victories it was very quiet. Belichick didn’t speak much; he was quite serious and, you know, minimal the way you would know him to be. Whereas Brady was able to like, gather the unity and soul and heart of all the brotherhood of these players.

I think it has to contribute to their success that Brady could get these guys, you know, sort of in a transcendent level that was beyond probably the unity on any other team, just dedication to themselves as brothers and players.

And then years later I learned that somebody was going to make a book on the New England Patriots and it was called Dynasty, but I didn’t learn it from Kraft. I don’t know if you want to even … am I touching on anything you want to know right now?

DEADLINE: Oh yeah. Keep going. This is all great.

GRAZER: So, in any event, someone else was going to do it and then Kraft said, “Well, Brian, if you were going to do it then I would love to do this with you,” because neither one of us considered each other in that way, just as friends. And I said, you know, I’d love to do it, and you’ve got a great team. Justin Wilkes is the head of our doc division and is tremendous, and he has come over and has created this whole documentary unit and is so good at it.

And that’s how it came down. And then Matt came from Justin because I think he was an editor prior to directing this, an editor that Justin had worked with, and we just elevated him because he was so good, even though he was young and hadn’t done it before. And that’s just how the whole group of us came together.

DEADLINE: The access is … it’s hard not to compare it to The Last Dance and Michael Jordan. I was so impressed, not just with everyone you got but how raw and open they were to talking. Were you surprised with everyone that got involved, or were you pretty convinced you could do it once Bob was on board?

GRAZER: Yeah. I was impressed. I was shocked, I mean, in that we were able to get all the interviews that we got, which were kind of astounding, particularly because not every single one is glowing. And you know, when you [get into] Deflategate and the cheating scandal and you do a few of these other things, you just don’t know what you’re going to get.

But Kraft embraces the truth on everything and that’s Bob’s value. It’s like, tell the truth, be a good person. Those are the kind of people I like to be around. You know, he’s all about character and the truth. So even though he did get some pushback in different directions, he said, we’re doing this and we’re doing it with cooperation from everybody. … I mean, if we couldn’t get it done, Bob was there to push it over and make it happen. I really see how he was so central in a winning dynasty, you know? I never knew what an owner did, actually, and I said, “Oh my God, this guy’s amazing.”

DEADLINE: So, Roger Goodell actually going on camera was wild. Was that Bob as well, because obviously the doc touched on how their relationship wasn’t quite the same after Deflategate. It was pretty surprising to see him show up.

GRAZER: Oh, yes. I think these guys built a lot of goodwill with one another, and particularly Bob and Roger, you know? Because you have to go into battle not only every game, but also the playoffs, and the events that happened, you know, the Deflategate, getting through that, and Brady having to sit out for four games. You’re kind of like, again, in battle all the time, and these two tough soldiers have done it for a long time — since the beginning as far as Roger goes.

DEADLINE: There’s so much material to cover. I’m kind of curious, was there a vision early on of what you wanted to focus on? There are elements left out — for instance the Peyton Manning/Brady rivalry wasn’t mentioned. Were you happy with everything that was covered?

GRAZER: Well, for me I thought we covered everything, from the drama to everything that was really exciting. I thought we kept it pretty tight, and that was our goal. We wanted to have a lot of propulsion and we wanted people to really be eager to watch the next episode in the same way I felt when I watched The Last Dance. I mean, I was riveted.

DEADLINE: Was there anything that truly surprised you? Like, did you learn anything from the Aaron Hernandez or the Trump stuff, because some of what the guys were saying was super-compelling. As you started getting footage, was there anything that kind of stood out that was like, whoa, I didn’t realize that?

GRAZER: Yes. With the Aaron Hernandez episode, I didn’t know the intensity of it and I didn’t think we could even capture the intensity of it once I learned it, and Matt successfully figured that out, and he was really kind of brilliant in being able to get that, and at the same time bring the plane back up, you know? Because that was a kind of devastating event to say the least.

DEADLINE: You got a lot of other stuff on your plate with the Genius: MLK/X series as well as The Truth About Jim and documentaries on Stormy Daniels and Jim Henson.


DEADLINE: You have such a diversified slate in the stories you’re telling, but you guys always seem to come back to stories based on real people. What is it about real-life stories that is so compelling to you, Imagine and your partners?

GRAZER: For me I only read nonfiction, so I always gravitate to real worlds. So, doing the New England Patriots for example, I was entering not just the story of the New England Patriots but also understanding how teams interface with this international organization, the NFL. And the NFL not just by only the scale, but [by] weight for a bunch of different reasons. You have a diverse group of very very wealthy owners — many of them have come from families, you know, their own legacy — and so they’re very specific types of personalities. But all them have a tremendous amount of power in their own world beyond just the teams that they own. And so, that has reverberation of power and weight in the country, for example.

So, I like to put the microscopes over worlds and I thought that’s what this did. It didn’t force our opinion upon it, it just lets you in to discover it, anthropologically, as we did.


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