American Masters: Season 23 (2009 - 2010)

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Season 23
American Masters

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Episodes

Air date: Feb 18, 2009

From his early choreographic efforts in the 1930s and 1940s, through his groundbreaking work on such musicals as +West Side Story and +Fiddler on the Roof, Jerome Robbins reigned as one of the crown princes of Broadway. As narrated by Ron Rifkin, this biographical documentary takes a long and detailed look back at Robbins's life and career, and explores the myriad of ways in which he expanded the possibilities of the post-war stage musical. It combines archival footage of Robbins performing, recitations from his own private journals, and interviews with a number of his collaborators including Chita Rivera, Arthur Laurents, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Stephen Sondheim. The filmmakers also incorporate archival footage of Robbins reflecting on his life and accomplishments.

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Air date: Apr 8, 2009

A year in the hectic life of composer Philip Glass, from his annual ride on the Coney Island "Cyclone" to the world premiere of an opera in Germany, as well as his work with Woody Allen and artist Chuck Close. The episode is enhanced by access to all facets of Glass' life, and also features remarks from Martin Scorsese, fellow composer Nico Muhly and former partners.

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Air date: May 27, 2009

Filmmaker Arthur Dong's documentary Hollywood Chinese pays homage to the first century of the American film industry, as specifically colored and influenced by the Chinese immigrants to whom Hollywood owes an inestimable debt. Dong touches on everyone from actress Anna May Wong, of Limehouse Blues (1934) and Lady from Chungking (1943), to the late cameraman James Wong Howe, responsible for giving the Rock Hudson thriller Seconds (1966) such a creepy and inventive look. Dong also explores the newer generation of Chinese-American filmmakers, including such giants as Wayne Wang and Ang Lee, responsible for such contemporary classics as The Joy Luck Club, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and Brokeback Mountain. At the same time, a haunting and telling undercurrent of racism and stereotypes weaves its way in, suggestive of the difficulties that Chinese men and women found working in Hollywood -- particularly in the early years. As a historical footnote, Dong also makes film history by rediscovering and editing in footage from what is alleged to be the first Asian-American film ever made: the 1916 Curse of Quon Gwan, directed by Marion Wong.

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Air date: Jun 10, 2009

A profile of rock-music legend Neil Young, whose timeless work with Buffalo Springfield, Crazy Horse, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, and on his own has earned him acclaim (and two Rock and Roll Hall of Fame berths). Includes interviews with Young, David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, James Taylor, and guitar virtuoso Nils Lofgren, plus performance footage.

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Air date: Jul 1, 2009

A year in the life of Garrison Keillor, with a focus on his popular "Prairie Home Companion" radio show, is chronicled, as the "Companion" crew and performers journey from town to town, putting on shows.

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Air date: Sep 2, 2009

A profile of screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (1905-76), who was blacklisted after being convicted of contempt of Congress for refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947. Prior to that, his credits included "Kitty Foyle" and "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo" and the novel "Johnny Got His Gun"; while blacklisted, in 1956, he won an Oscar for "The Brave One," which he wrote under the name Robert Rich. Based on his son Christopher's 2003 play and letters he wrote.

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Air date: Oct 14, 2009

Examine the private life and public career of Joan Baez, recording artist and political activist.

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Air date: Dec 28, 2009

An inventive biography of "Little Women" author Louisa May Alcott that mixes documentary, drama and animation, with the dialogue borrowed from writings and firsthand accounts. "I don't enjoy writing moral pap for the young. I do it because it pays well," Alcott (Elizabeth Marvel) admits. Another avenue that paid: lurid pulp fiction, which she published under a pseudonym. The bio also delves into "Little Women," her family's progressive ways and family friends Emerson and Thoreau.

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Air date: Jan 11, 2010

A stirring profile of the great Sam Cooke (1931-64), who helped invent and popularize soul music with such classics as "You Send Me" (1957), "Chain Gang" (1960) and "A Change Is Gonna Come" (1962). It features a wealth of archival footage, including an insightful "American Bandstand" interview and Cooke's swinging rendition of Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind," as well as remarks from James Brown, Mel Carter, Sam Moore, Billy Preston, Lou Rawls and Smokey Robinson.

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Tv Season Info

Cast & Crew

Jane Alexander
Ednah Dow Cheney
Elizabeth Marvel

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