American Masters: Season 26 (2012)

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Season 26
American Masters

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Episodes

Air date: Jan 23, 2012

A profile of protest singer Phil Ochs (1940-1976), best remembered for such iconic 1960s songs as "I Ain't Marching Anymore," "Draft Dodger Rag" and "The War Is Over." The documentary uses his songs for narration; and features remarks from Joan Baez (who covered his "There But for Fortune"), Tom Hayden, Pete Seeger, Peter Yarrow, Ed Sanders, Sean Penn and Christopher Hitchens.

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Air date: Feb 27, 2012

"Cab Calloway: Sketches" recalls the "Hi De Ho Man" (1907-94), a singer, dancer and bandleader who led one of the top black big bands of the 1930s and '40s. He introduced himself to a new generation of fans with a turn in "The Blues Brothers" in 1980. The profile includes archival footage; an animated Calloway dancing with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Matthew Rushing; and comments from Calloway family members, the Blues Brothers band, and jazz critics Stanley Crouch and Gary Giddins.

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Air date: Apr 2, 2012

A profile of "To Kill a Mockingbird" author Harper Lee, whose childhood in Monroeville, Ala., provided the inspiration for the classic 1960 novel. The documentary also delves into the making of the Oscar-winning 1962 film; Lee's friendship with childhood neighbor Truman Capote; and the impact the novel had and still has on readers. Included: remarks by Lee's sister Alice Finch Lee.

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Air date: Apr 2, 2012

A profile of "Gone With the Wind" author Margaret Mitchell (1900-49), who blazed trails as one of Georgia's first female newspaper reporters. She also funded the education of the South's first black doctors with her "Gone With the Wind" money. Included: reenactments based on her letters; remarks by friend Sara Mitchell Parsons; Pat Conroy ("The Prince of Tides"); Pearl Cleage ("What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day"); and Molly Haskell ("Frankly My Dear: Gone With the Wind Revisited").

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Air date: May 14, 2012

Kevin Spacey narrates this insightful profile of Johnny Carson (1925-2005), whose cool charm, quick wit, and masterful timing made him the king of late-night TV during his 30-year Tonight Show run. The biography features a wealth of Tonight Show clips and remarks by family, friends, and colleagues, including second wife Joanne; Ed McMahon, Doc Severinsen, Mel Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Angie Dickinson, Jay Leno, David Letterman, Bob Newhart, Don Rickles, Joan Rivers, and Garry Shandling.

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Air date: Sep 24, 2012

"The Day Carl Sandburg Died" examines the life and legacy of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet-author Carl Sandburg (1878-1967). The profile features remarks from his daughter Helga Sandburg Crile and grandson John Carl Steichen; friends Norman Corwin (1910-2011) and Pete Seeger; author Studs Terkel (1912-2008); biographer Penelope Niven; poets Ted Kooser, Robin O. Metz, Geoffrey O'Brien, Marc Kelly Smith and Yevgeny Yevtushenko; and singer-songwriter Dan Zanes.

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Air date: Nov 20, 2012

A profile of entertainment mogul David Geffen, who began his career in the William Morris Agency mail room in 1964. Featuring remarks from friends, associates and observers, including Cher, Tom Hanks, Don Henley, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Steven Spielberg, the biography charts his business successes and philanthropic efforts while also addressing his rifts with Laura Nyro, the Eagles, and the Clintons; his lawsuit against Neil Young; and his struggles with cancer and homosexuality.

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Air date: Dec 28, 2012

A history of the Joffrey Ballet, which was founded in 1956 by Robert Joffrey (1930-88) and Gerald Arpino (1923-2008), featuring archival footage; and interviews with past and present dancers. Included: excerpts from the company's signature works, including "Astarte," "Trinity" and "Billboards," and collaborations with such choreographers as Kurt Jooss ("The Green Table"), Leonide Massine ("Parade"), Twyla Tharp ("As Time Goes By"), Laura Dean ("Night") and Margo Sappington ("Face Dances").

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