With the simple belief that we are living in a World of Wonder, award-winning filmmakers Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato set up their production company of the same name in the early ‘90s after meeting at NYU film school. They made a name for themselves producing and directing compelling documentaries and unscripted series that combine intriguing characters with first-rate storytelling.
Many of their feature documentaries have premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, including Inside Deep Throat, The Eyes of Tammy Faye and Party Monster. HBO’s Mapplethorpe: Look At The Pictures (nominated for two Emmy® Awards) was their sixth premiere at Sundance.
Fenton and Randy have never shied away from controversial material: Inside Deep Throat told the behind-the-scenes story of the world’s most well-known adult film. Becoming Chaz documented Chaz Bono’s groundbreaking transgender journey. They re-worked their Club Kid documentary Party Monster into a cult movie of the same name starring Macaulay Culkin and Seth Green. On the small screen, RuPaul’s Drag Race has proven to be a worldwide, Emmy-winning hit with huge social reach. From real estate agents (Million Dollar Listing) to the Queen of Bounce herself (Big Freedia), their passion for telling the often stranger-than-fiction stories of real life touches everything they produce.
They have their finger on the pulse of zeitgeist. The Last Beekeeper, a documentary investigating the mysterious disappearance of the honeybee, won the 2010 Emmy® Award for Outstanding Nature Programming. In September of 2011, The Strange History of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell premiered on HBO the very day that the controversial military policy was repealed. Before gender issues became an openly-discussed topic, their 2011 Sundance Festival hit Becoming Chaz garnered three Emmy® nominations and launched Oprah Winfrey’s documentary film club. And prior to that, they created Sex Change Hospital in 2008 for Discovery and Transgeneration in 2005 for the Sundance Channel. Their documentary Esquire’s 80th launched the Esquire Network in September, 2013.
Over the years, Fenton and Randy have directed and produced numerous documentaries about characters deemed overexposed yet under-revealed: Monica in Black and White (HBO) reassessed Monica Lewinsky’s reputation long before it was conceivable and Heidi Fleiss: The Would-be Madam of Crystal (HBO) revealed the notorious madam falling in love – with a parakeet. As longtime fans of Britney Spears, they revealed the modest and shy person at the heart of a massive showbiz machine in 2013’s I Am Britney Jean (E!). In Summer 2017, Randy and Fenton also directed and executive produced Lifetime’s Menendez: Blood Brothers starring Courtney Love.
In Spring 2017, World of Wonder’s groundbreaking television series RuPaul’s Drag Race broke ratings records when it moved from Logo to VH1 during its ninth season. Prior to airing on VH1, it was the #1 show on Logo and most-watched show in the channel’s
history. RuPaul’s Drag Race was also the recent winner of the prestigious Television Critics Association Award for Outstanding Reality Television Programming and RuPaul won the 2016 Emmy® Award for Outstanding Reality Host. Season nine is nominated for a groundbreaking seven Emmy nominations, with an eighth nomination for its spin-off series “Untucked,” which WOW self-finances and produces for its popular YouTube channel, YouTube.com/WOWPresents.
Other successful series include the Emmy®-nominated Million Dollar Listing (Bravo) following the lives and listings of hot-shot real estate agents with fifteen seasons combined set in Los Angeles, New York, Miami, and San Francisco. For five seasons, Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce (Fuse) has been the number one-rated and most-watched original series in the network’s history. The series will return for its sixth season in September 2017 with a new title, “Freedia Bounces Back.”
World of Wonder recently produced National Geographic’s Gender Revolution: A Journey with Katie Couric, which brought Gavin Grimm’s story into mainstream consciousness. Gavin is the transgender student who took his case on school discrimination to the Supreme Court.
World of Wonder benefits from long-term and evolving relationships with many of its subjects and partners. Fenton and Randy met RuPaul when they were touring with their own band, The Fabulous Pop Tarts. Immediately recognizing Ru as the star they knew he was, they dedicated themselves to helping the rest of the world catch up. As RuPaul’s management company, Fenton and Randy secured Ru’s record deal, negotiated an unprecedented MAC Cosmetics deal, as well as directed and produced his breakout award-winning music videos. After producing and directing the documentary Party Monster, featuring James St. James, they hired him to pen Disco Bloodbath. They then wrote, directed and co-produced (with Killer Films) the cult hit Party Monster starring Macaulay Culkin, Seth Green, Marilyn Manson, Dylan McDermott and Chloë Sevigny.
Based in Hollywood, World of Wonder’s presence is worldwide. Their work is distributed in 261 territories on over 163 channels. Out of their UK office, they conceived and produced multiple world-class documentary series including Pornography: The Secret History Of Civilization, Andy Warhol: The Complete Picture (recipient of a BANFF Rockie Award) and the Jon Ronson series Crazy Rulers of the World, an episode which George Clooney’s film The Men Who Stare At Goats was based upon. They also created the breakout-hit series Manhattan Cable, TakeoverTV and The Adam and Joe Show, which won an RTS (Royal Television Society) Award.
Overall, They have produced cutting-edge fiction and non-fiction programming for over 56 networks including HBO, Showtime, VH1, IFC, Discovery, MTV, OWN, TLC, E!, BBC, PBS and Channel 4 UK. At the same time, Randy and Fenton are screen agnostic believing more than ever, that size doesn’t matter; it’s the dimension of the story that counts. They produced the popular web series #CandidlyNicole starring Nicole Richie (co-produced with AOL and Telepictures) which eventually became a TV series of the same name for VH1.
They have also created a substantial digital footprint with multiple original series on their signature YouTube channel WOWPresents. The channel has over 780,000 subscribers and more than 420 million views. Championing new upcoming talent also remains a true passion. To support these voices, they have launched an MCN (Multi-Channel Network) comprising 120 YouTube channels with over 215 million cumulative views and over 1.6 million subscribers. The popular WOW Report blog, which can be found at www.worldofwonder.net, was awarded the Best Counter Culture Blog by LA Weekly.
In 2014, Randy and Fenton were honored with the IDA Pioneer Award, celebrating exceptional achievement, leadership, and vision in the nonfiction and documentary community.