An ongoing series of award-winning primetime specials examining the lives, works, and creative processes of our most outstanding cultural artists. Created in 1984, the series is both a celebration and an exploration of creativity in America, documenting the role important individuals, groups, and movements have played in the formation of our cultural identity.
Judy Garland: By Myself (#1704) Duration: 1:56:46 STEREO TVPG
Judy Garland had one of the most photographed faces ever to come out of Hollywood - it is stamped as a virtual imprint on our imaginations, a celluloid image frozen in time. She also had one of the most frequently recorded voices of the last century. She was magic, almost mythical. She is as iconic as she is misunderstood. There were her problems, to be sure, but the proof is in the performances, from The Wizard of Oz to the Palladium, from the Oscars to the Grammies. With singular entree to the MGM library, including vaulted screen tests and rehearsal footage, the film is wrapped in Judy's voice, actually telling her story in her own words. So many outsiders have tried to tell this story and so many friends and family have weighed in - now Judy gets center stage, all to herself. This is her ultimate comeback.
Marilyn Monroe: Still Life (#1904L) Duration: 56:46 STEREO TVPG-S
There are the movie roles, but it is the still images - the iconic face, expressions and poses - that make up our collective memory of Marilyn. She was, arguably, the most photographed person ever. Her relationship with the camera produced an enduring body of work that still dazzles and moves us, evoking both desire and pathos. These photographs are an ageless testament to her grace, guts and sexiness - her humor and vulnerability. She understood their power, and she exploited it. She created, and curated, her own image - lips puckered to the lens, inviting us to kiss her back. She would be 80 now. She died more than 40 years ago. We look back through Norman Mailer, Gloria Steinem and Hugh Heffner, as Marilyn persists in her image.
Margaret Mitchell: American Rebel (#2503H) Duration: 56:46 SRND51 TVPG
No ordinary writer and no ordinary woman --"Gone with the Wind" created two of the world's greatest lovers, Scarlett and Rhett, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1937 and has sold more than 30 million copies. Born into Atlanta's upper crust in 1900, Margaret Mitchell challenged stifling social restrictions at every turn. A charismatic force to be reckoned with, she had a great sense of humor, was one of Georgia's first newspaper women and was extremely generous with the money she made from "Gone with the Wind." She struggled with the changing role of women and the liberation of African Americans but also suffered from lifelong bouts of depression, until a tragic accident lead to her death in 1949. This film examines the amazing endurance of "Gone with the Wind" and reveals the seminal events of Mitchell's life through dramatic re-enactments based on her letters, as scenes from the movie weave together her life and her work.
Jeff Bridges: The Dude Abides (#2308H) Duration: 1:25:46 SRND51 TVPG
Called "the most natural and least self-conscious screen actor that has ever lived" by critic Pauline Kael, Jeff Bridges has been plying his craft most of his life. With a first role as an infant in his mother Dorothy's arms and a childhood television debut in his father Lloyd's television series Sea Hunt, he burst onto the silver screen in The Last Picture Show in 1971 and was immediately recognized with a Best Supporting Actor nomination. He has created original and memorable characters in notable films since that time. To name but a few -- Heaven's Gate, Starman, Jagged Edge, The Fisher King, Fearless, Wild Bill, The Fabulous Baker Boys, The Big Lebowski, and his 2010 Oscar-winning best actor in Crazy Heart. He is an exceptional musician, an artist, a photographer, an occasional vintner and a story teller extraordinaire. He helped found the End Hunger Network in 1983 and continues to work tirelessly to reach their goals. Known for taking on-set still photographs of cast and crew during all of his recent movies, Bridges puts together a book after wrapping, presents one to everyone and sells the rest to support End Hunger. He wrote about it in his 2006 volume "Pictures". Bridges returns to the screen in 2011 with Tron Legacy and as Rooster Cogburn in the remake of True Grit.
Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did for Love (#2605H) Duration: 1:26:46 SRND51 TVPG
By age 31, Marvin Hamlisch had won four Grammys, an Emmy, three Oscars, a Tony and a Pulitzer Prize, making him one of only 2 PEGOT's ever. Hit after hit -"The Way We Were," "Nobody Does It Better" and scores for The Sting, Sophie's Choice and the Broadway juggernaut A Chorus Line, made him the go-to composer for film and Broadway producers and the go-to performer for every president since Reagan. His streak was unprecedented. A child prodigy accepted at Juilliard at age six, Hamlisch's classical training laid the groundwork for his popular compositions. A rich archival legacy, interviews with his A-list collaborators, and cooperation from his family combine to tell this rich and engrossing story.
Lennon NYC (#2306H) Duration: 1:56:46 SRND51 TVPG-L
In October 2010, John Lennon would have been 70 years old. In December 2010, he will have been dead for 30 years. Yet, his art still haunts us. It still matters deeply and it is still deeply relevant. It still speaks to millions of people. This film establishes Lennon as an American artist. It is, essentially, a classic immigrant tale: Lennon and Ono left London in 1971 in search of freedom, both artistic and personal. We hear Lennon's song New York City and follow into their life - their commitment to peace and political activism, their struggles to remain in America and, of course, the greatest music from that period and the concert footage from Lennon's first two albums, Plastic Ono Band and Imagine. With unprecedented and exclusive cooperation from Yoko Ono, access to never-before-seen material from the Lennon archives and conversations with those closest to him - Ono, Elton John, the photographer Bob Gruen, Ringo Starr -- this program tells John Lennon's story as it has never been told before -- and as it will never be told again.
A Fierce Green Fire (#2701) Duration: 56:46 STEREO TVPG (Secondary audio: none)
This film is an exploration of the environmental movement - grassroots and global activism spanning 50 years from conservation to climate change. Inspired by the book of the same name by Philip Shabecoff and informed by advisors like Edward O. Wilson, this documentary chronicles the largest movement of the 20th century and one of the keys to the 21st. It brings together all the major parts of environmentalism and connects them. It focuses on activism, people fighting to save their homes, their lives, the future - and succeeding against all odds. The film is directed and written by Mark Kitchell, Academy Award-nominated director of Berkeley in the Sixties, and narrated by Robert Redford, Ashley Judd, Van Jones, Isabel Allende and Meryl Streep.
James Levine: America's Maestro (#2403H) Duration: 56:16 SRND51 TVG
To celebrate his 40th anniversary at the Metropolitan Opera in 2011, conductor James Levine's life and current work were the subject of this documentary, which captures the essence of his unparalleled musicianship and his singular teaching and performance style, while looking back at creative milestones since his Met debut in 1971 at the age of 28.
Over the course of a year, filmmaker Susan Froemke followed Levine. Included in the film are intimate scenes between the maestro and longtime collaborator Placido Domingo as they rehearse Verdi's Simon Boccanegra; intense rehearsals with the Met Orchestra as they prepare for their first performance of Beethoven's 5th Symphony at Carnegie Hall; and Levine's poignant coaching sessions with aspiring young singers preparing to launch their careers. The film provides a revealing portrait of one of classical music's giants, exploring how Levine transformed the Met's orchestra into one of the great ensembles, elicited legendary performances from leading singers, and nurtured new generations of artists.