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.
Sam Cooke: Crossing Over (#2208H) Duration: 55:46 STEREO TVPG
Sam Cooke put the spirit of the black church into popular music -- creating a new sound and setting into motion a chain of events that forever altered the course of popular music and race relations in America. With "You Send Me" in 1957, Cooke became the first African American artist to reach #1 on both the R&B and the pop charts. He proved with his pop/gospel hybrid, that it was, indeed, possible to win over white teenage listeners and keep his faithful church followers intact. In combining two worlds, his constant challenge was to sing meaningful lyrics with the fervor of gospel and the romance of pop. He came closest with "Chain Gang," observed and written during the Civil Rights era and with the poignant, biting lyrics and melody of "A Change Is Gonna Come" in 1962, fashioned out of the depth of personal pain and loss. He had the courage to take an open stand against racism, refusing to perform at a segregated venue in the south and garnering the support of Dick Clark. But, at the height of his success in 1964, he was gunned down and killed in the company of a prostitute -- leaving a profound legacy filled with extraordinary talent -- and all the questions about what might have been. This documentary includes original interviews with Lou Rawls, James Brown, Sam Moore, Bobby Womack, Smokey Robinson, Mel Carter, Herb Alpert, Lou Adler and James Carter, among many others from both sides of the crossover music world, then and now.
Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women (#2207H) Duration: 1:26:18 SRND51 TVPG
The author of Little Women is an almost universally recognized name. Her reputation as a morally upstanding New England spinster, reflecting the conventional propriety of late 19th-century Concord, is firmly established. However, raised among reformers and Transcendentalists and skeptics, the intellectual protege of Emerson and Hawthorne and Thoreau, Alcott was actually a free thinker with democratic ideals and progressive values about women -- a worldly careerist of sorts. Most surprising is that she led, under the pseudonym A.M. Barnard, a literary double life, undiscovered until the 1940s. As Barnard, Alcott penned scandalous, sensational works with characters running the gamut from murderers and revolutionaries to cross-dressers and opium addicts -- a far cry from her familiar fatherly mentors, courageous mothers and appropriately impish children.
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.
Margaret Mitchell: American Rebel (#2503) Duration: 56:46 STEREO TVPG (Secondary audio: none)
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.