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.
Pete Seeger: The Power of Song (#2101H) Duration: 1:26:13 STEREO TVPG
This first authorized film biography poetically documents the late Pete Seeger's unique experience and contributions. The man, who introduced America to its own folk heritage, got a whole generation passionate about playing the guitar and picking the banjo, got them singing together and using music as a force for social change. He deeply believed in the power of song, convinced that individuals can make a difference. Largely misunderstood by his critics, including the US government, for his views on peace, civil rights and ecology, Seeger went from the top of the hit parade to the top of the blacklist -- banned from commercial television for more than 17 years. Seeger's inspiring, but not always easy story is told by everyone from Bob Dylan to the Dixie Chicks and through a remarkable historical archive.
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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.
Troubadours: Carole King/James Taylor & The Rise of the Singer-Songwriter (#2401H) Duration: 1:26:46 SRND51 TVPG
In the wake of the turbulent 1960s, a new style of song and songwriter came to the fore -- a style marked by vulnerable introspection, raw, naked emotion and young singer/songwriters who shared their most intimate thoughts, backed by little more than a lone acoustic guitar or simple piano. Never before in music had the line between the songwriters and the songs seemed so transparent. They descended on the old club the Troubadour in Los Angeles, the emerging center of the American music scene - and the careers of James Taylor, Carole King, Randy Newman, Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell, Cat Stevens and so many others were launched. Carole King, one of the great songwriters of the '60s, started playing piano in James Taylor's band, creating a bond that they still share today. It is through them and their unique voices that we chronicle this group of musicians, who played before, after, and alongside them.
Ricky Jay: Deceptive Practice (#2801) Duration: 56:46 STEREO TVPG (Secondary audio: none)
This documentary is a journey into the world of modern magic and the small circle of eccentrics who were its perpetual devotees. At its center is the multi-talented Ricky Jay, a best-selling author and historian, an acclaimed actor, a leading collector of antiquarian books and artifacts, but above all a conjurer capable of creating a profound sense of wonder and disbelief in even the most jaded of audiences.
Told largely in Jay's own voice, it traces the story of his achievements, from his early apprenticeship, beginning at age four, with his grandfather Max Katz, an accomplished amateur magician, as well as Al Flosso, Slydini,Cardini, Francis Carlyle, and Roy Benson, all of whom were among the best magicians of the 20th century. The film weaves together performance footage from his one-man shows and classic TV appearances,and also includes friends and collaborators such as Steve Martin (who joins him in a hilarious turn on a '70s vintage Dinah Shore TV show) and David Mamet, who says of Jay: "He's devoted to that theater that he alone sees. He has the ideal of magic in his mind to which he's devoted his life: to teaching it, to performing it, to perfecting it, to researching it."
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