Thirteen’s American Masters Celebrates 30 Years of Excellence in Documentary Filmmaking in 2016

Thirteen‘s American Masters has announced the preliminary lineup for its 30th anniversary season on PBS featuring Mike Nichols, B.B. King, Carole King, Fats Domino, Loretta Lynn, Janis Joplin, The Highwaymen, Norman Lear and Maya Angelou. American Masters, THIRTEEN’s award-winning biography series, celebrates our arts and culture. Awards include 70 Emmy nominations and 28 awards — 10 for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series since 1999 and five for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special — 12 Peabody Awards; three Grammys; an Oscar; two Producers Guild Awards for Outstanding Producer of Non-Fiction Television; and the 2012 IDA Award for Best Continuing Series.

"American Masters," THIRTEEN's award-winning biography series, explores the lives and creative journeys of America's most enduring artistic and cultural giants. With insight and originality, the series illuminates the extraordinary mosaic of our nation's landscape, heritage and traditions. Watch full episodes and more at http://pbs.org/americanmasters. (PRNewsFoto/WNET)

“American Masters,” THIRTEEN’s award-winning biography series, explores the lives and creative journeys of America’s most enduring artistic and cultural giants. With insight and originality, the series illuminates the extraordinary mosaic of our nation’s landscape, heritage and traditions. Watch full episodes and more at http://pbs.org/americanmasters. (PRNewsFoto/WNET)

Launched in 1986, the series is the gold standard for documentary film profiles, accruing widespread critical acclaim. This prolific series has produced an exceptional library*, bringing unique originality and perspective to illuminate the creative journeys of our most enduring writers, musicians, visual and performing artists, dramatists, filmmakers and those who have left an indelible impression on our cultural landscape. Balancing a broad and diverse cast of characters and artistic approaches, while preserving historical authenticity and intellectual integrity, these portraits reveal the style and substance of each subject.AboutSeries

The series’ individually crafted films reflect the specific attention deserved by American Masters subjects, including such great talents as Arthur Miller (the series’ first subject), Georgia O’Keeffe, James Baldwin, Diego Rivera, Martha Graham, F. Scott Fitzgerald, I.M. Pei, Leonard Bernstein, Sidney Poitier, Judy Garland, John James Audubon, Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol, Johnny Carson, Zora Neale Hurston, Albert Einstein, Rod Serling, Bill T. Jones, Lucille Ball, Paul Simon, Richard Avedon, John Cassavetes, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Gehry, Woody Guthrie, Jimi Hendrix, Edward Curtis, Julia Child, Walter Cronkite, Woody Allen, and Billie Jean King, as well as influential cultural institutions and eras such as the Actor’s Studio, the Algonquin Round Table, the Negro Ensemble Company, the Juilliard School, 60 Minutes, the Joffrey Ballet, and a century of Chinese American cinematic history in Hollywood Chinese.

Fascinating in their individuality as well as in the whole, American Masters has become a cultural legacy in its own right, producing and presenting the extraordinary mosaic of our creative heritage and broadening viewer appreciation of our nation’s traditions and character. An artist’s work can capture, reflect and even shape a society’s experience. Without art, we would lack an identity, a soul and a voice. American Masters exists to give life to that voice.

For this celebratory 30th anniversary season, the offerings are no less fascinating. The season opens with Mike Nichols and concludes with Maya Angelou. How can it get any better than that?

Mike Nichols: American MastersMike-Nichols_end-frame_KEY-ART-FINAL

Season 30 premiere: Friday, January 29 at 9 p.m. Meet one of America’s late, great directors Mike Nichols (The Graduate, Angels in America), who discusses his life and 50-year artistic career, from the comedy duo Nichols and May to his final film, Charlie Wilson’s War. Winner of an Oscar, a Grammy, four Emmys, nine Tonys, three BAFTAs and many other awards, director, actor, writer, producer and comedian Mike Nichols (November 6, 1931 – November 19, 2014) was an artistic trailblazer. As the legendary comedy duo Nichols and May, Nichols and his partner Elaine May revolutionized comedy in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Now, May has directed the first documentary about her former partner, Mike Nichols: American Masters, premiering Friday, January 29, 2016, at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings) to launch the 30th anniversary season of THIRTEEN’s American Masters series.

With charm and wit, Nichols discusses his life and 50-year career as a performer and director. Mike Nichols: American Masters features new interviews with his friends and colleagues, including Meryl Streep, Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Dustin Hoffman, Alec Baldwin, Paul Simon, Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane, Bob Balaban, Tony Kushner, Neil Simon, Frank Langella, James L. Brooks and many others, conducted by film, TV and theater producer Julian Schlossberg (Bullets Over Broadway, American Masters — Nichols & May: Take Two, American Masters: The Lives of Lillian Hellman). Schlossberg also conducted an exclusive interview with Nichols for the film. The documentary features insights and highlights from Nichols’ acclaimed films, including The Graduate, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Catch 22, Silkwood, Biloxi Blues, Working Girl, Angels In America and Charlie Wilson’s War, as well as his theatrical productions Barefoot in the Park, Luv and The Odd Couple. Directed by Elaine May. Produced by Julian Schlossberg.

American Masters: B.B. King: The Life of Riley

Photo Credit: B.B. King performs on stage at the Royal Albert Hall. Photo: Kevin Nixon

Photo Credit: B.B. King performs on stage at the Royal Albert Hall. Photo: Kevin Nixon

Friday, February 12 at 9 p.m. in honor of Black History Month. Explore B.B. King’s challenging life and career through candid interviews with the “King of the Blues” filmed shortly before his death and fellow music stars, including Bono, Bonnie Raitt, Carlos Santana, Eric Clapton, John Mayer, and Ringo Starr, and more.

American Masters — Carole King: Natural Woman

Carole King. Photo: Joseph Sinnott / ©2015 THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC. All rights reserved.

Carole King. Photo: Joseph Sinnott / ©2015 THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC. All rights reserved.

Friday, February 19 at 9 p.m. Delve into the hit singer-songwriter’s life and career from 1960s New York to the music mecca of 70s LA to the present. Carole King joins collaborators and family in new interviews, while rare home movies, performances and photos complete the tapestry. The year 2016 marks the 45th anniversary of King’s landmark, four-time Grammy-winning album Tapestry, which was released February 10, 1971.

American Masters: Fats Domino and the Birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll

Singer-songwriter Fats Domino (b. Feb. 26, 1928), 1970. Photo: Getty Images.

Singer-songwriter Fats Domino (b. Feb. 26, 1928), 1970. Photo: Getty Images.

Friday, February 26 at 10 p.m. in honor of Black History Month and Fats Domino’s birthday. Discover how Fats Domino’s brand of New Orleans rhythm and blues became rock ‘n’ roll. As popular in the 1950s as Elvis Presley, Domino suffered degradations in the pre-Civil Rights South and aided integration through his influential music.

American Masters — Loretta Lynn: Still a Mountain Girl

Loretta Lynn. Photo: David McClister

Loretta Lynn. Photo: David McClister

Friday, March 4 at 9 p.m. in honor of Women’s History Month. Explore the country legend’s hard-fought road to stardom. From her Appalachian roots to the Oscar-winning biopic of her life, Coal Miner’s Daughter, Loretta Lynn struggled to balance family and her music career and is still going strong after more than 50 years. The documentary premieres the same day Lynn’s first new studio album in over 10 years, Full Circle (Legacy Recordings), is released. Continue reading

First Documentary on Mike Nichols Will Launch 30th Season of American Masters

THIRTEEN’s American Masters Launches 30th Anniversary Season with First Documentary about Legendary Director Mike Nichols Premiering January 29, 2016 on PBS

Directed By Elaine May, Featuring New Interviews With Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, Dustin Hoffman, Alec Baldwin, Paul Simon And Others

THIRTEEN’s American Masters will launch its 30th anniversary season with the first documentary ever about legendary director Mike Nichols, to premiere January 29, 2016 on PBS. Winner of an Oscar, a Grammy, four Emmys, nine Tonys, three BAFTAs and many other awards, director, actor, writer, producer and comedian Mike Nichols (November 6, 1931 – November 19, 2014) was an artistic trailblazer. As the legendary comedy duo Nichols and May, Nichols and his partner Elaine May revolutionized comedy in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Now, May has directed the first documentary about her former partner, American Masters: Mike Nichols(w.t.).

The comedy duo Nichols and May (Elaine May at left, Mike Nichols at right).

The comedy duo Nichols and May (Elaine May at left, Mike Nichols at right).

With charm and wit, Nichols discusses his life and 50-year career as a performer and director. American Masters: Mike Nichols(w.t.) features new interviews with his friends and colleagues, including Meryl Streep, Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Dustin Hoffman, Alec Baldwin, Paul Simon, Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane and many others, conducted by film, TV and theater producer Julian Schlossberg (Bullets Over Broadway, American Masters — Nichols & May: Take Two, American Masters: The Lives of Lillian Hellman).

Schlossberg also conducted an exclusive interview with Nichols for the film. The documentary features insights and highlights from Nichols’ acclaimed films, including The Graduate, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Catch 22, Silkwood, Biloxi Blues, Working Girl, Angels In America and Charlie Wilson’s War, as well as his theatrical productions Barefoot in the Park, Luv and The Odd Couple.

Producing this special was a labor of love. Working with Elaine May was a nightmare,” says Schlossberg, who has produced many of May’s plays, including Relatively Speaking, Power Plays and Death Defying Acts.

Julian Schlossberg was very nice and he really seemed to like me,” says May.

Elaine and Julian can joke about each other because they’ve known each other 40 years, and their work together has been so successful. What seems to unite them in both humor and friendship is a deep love and respect for Mike Nichols and his legacy,” says Michael Kantor, executive producer of American Masters. “They are the perfect team for this documentary.”

"American Masters," THIRTEEN's award-winning biography series, explores the lives and creative journeys of America's most enduring artistic and cultural giants. With insight and originality, the series illuminates the extraordinary mosaic of our nation's landscape, heritage and traditions. Watch full episodes and more at http://pbs.org/americanmasters. (PRNewsFoto/WNET)

“American Masters,” THIRTEEN’s award-winning biography series, explores the lives and creative journeys of America’s most enduring artistic and cultural giants. With insight and originality, the series illuminates the extraordinary mosaic of our nation’s landscape, heritage and traditions. Watch full episodes and more at http://pbs.org/americanmasters. (PRNewsFoto/WNET)

Launched in 1986, American Masters has earned 28 Emmy Awards — including 10 for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series since 1999 and five for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special12 Peabodys, an Oscar, three Grammys, two Producers Guild Awards and many other honors. The series is a production of THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET and also seen on the WORLD channel. To take American Masters beyond the television broadcast and further explore the themes, stories and personalities of masters past and present, the series’ companion website (http://pbs.org/americanmasters) offers streaming video of select films, interviews, photos, outtakes, essays and more.

(See two web-exclusive outtakes of a Mike Nichols interview given for the 2012 film American Masters: Inventing David Geffen.)

American Masters: Mike Nichols (w.t.) is a production of Jumer Productions Inc., Witnesses Documentary Productions LLC, Bennington Productions Inc., and THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC’s American Masters for WNET. Elaine May is director. Julian Schlossberg is producer. Roy Furman is Executive Producer. Michael Kantor is executive producer for American Masters.

Funding for American Masters is provided by The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Rosalind P. Walter, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Rhoda Herrick, Michael & Helen Schaffer Foundation, Vital Projects Fund, Rolf and Elizabeth Rosenthal, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, Judith and Burton Resnick, Jack Rudin, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, and public television viewers. Additional funding for American Masters: Mike Nichols (w.t.) is provided by Harold and Ruth Newman, Daryl and Steven Roth Foundation, Andrew Tobias, and the National Endowment for the Arts.