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American Masters

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Little Richard: The King and Queen of Rock and Roll
Little Richard

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Nam June Paik: Moon Is the Oldest TV
See the world through the eyes of Nam June Paik, the father of video art and coiner of the term "electronic superhighway." Born in Japan-occupied Korea, Paik went on to become a pillar of the American avant-garde and transformed modern image-making with his sculptures, films and performances.

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Alejandro Jimenez: The Ground I Stand On
The work and creative process of poet Alejandro Jimenez.

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In the Making
Opera singer J'Nai Bridges returns to the stage in "A Knee on the Neck," a tribute to George Floyd; country artist Rissi Palmer works on a new album.

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Tony -- A Year in the Life of Dr. Anthony Fauci
Tony -- A Year in the Life of Dr. Anthony Fauci

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Lily Gladstone: Far Out There
Filmmaker Brooke Pepion Swaney profiles independent film actress Lily Gladstone as she prepares for the release of a high-profile Hollywood film. Drawing from her childhood on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana and her peripatetic life as a professional actor, Gladstone learns to stand on her own two feet in order to make her voice heard.

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Roberta Flack
American Masters: Roberta Flack follows the piano prodigy and one-time school teacher, from her start in a Washington, D.C.

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American Masters is a venerable long-running and critically acclaimed PBS documentary series that provides insightful and definitive biographies of iconic artists, authors, filmmakers, musicians, and other public figures who've made a significant cultural impact. This plethora of profiles, which aired starting from 1985, has covered an incredibly vast array of personalities. Every episode takes an in-depth look at these figures both famous and infamous, offering an intimate, behind-the-scenes glimpse into their personal lives, careers, motivations, and the countless influences that shaped them. Each focal subject is portrayed through a combination of archival footage, personal interviews, performances, and testimonials from their contemporaries and experts, making the series a testament to the intricate dynamics of art, culture, politics, and society, Cinematic legend Lee Grant and renowned filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich serve as part of the rotating roster of hosts and narrators. The guest appearances, however, form a veritable encyclopedia of film, theater, art, music, and literary luminaries, including the likes of Jack Lemmon, Eli Wallach, James Dean, Yoko Ono, Paul Newman, Betty White, Lily Tomlin, James Garner, Ben Vereen, Joan Baez, Phyllis Diller, Neil Simon, Larry David, Robin Hughes, Carole King, Nat Hentoff, Aretha Franklin, Tony Bennett, Benny Goodman, Lyndon B. Johnson, Martin Luther King Jr., Amiri Baraka, Dizzy Gillespie, and many more. In some episodes, American Masters steps back and explores the dazzling world of music with dynamic personalities like Ray Charles, Carlos Santana, Arnold Schwarzenegger, S. Epatha Merkerson, Hugh Hefner, Harry James, Dionne Warwick, Josephine Dunn, Ella Fitzgerald, Lionel Hampton, Mahalia Jackson, Maria Sharapova, and Bryan Ferry. These episodes chronicle their journies from early life to superstardom, and the impact of their music on American society and culture. Simultaneously, there are episodes that delve deeper into the realm of the written word, with features on authors and literary figures including Ernest Cossart, Omara Portuondo, Daniel J. Boorstin, and others. These episodes reflect on how their literary contributions have shaped popular consciousness. Some prominent figures from the world of politics and society are also acknowledged in the series. It casts a spotlight on influential personas as diverse as Shimon Peres, Henry Kissinger, Hillary Clinton, Martin Luther King Jr., Lyndon B. Johnson, and even Adolph Hitler, exploring their leadership styles, philosophies, legacies, and the global effects of their policy decisions. Further, American Masters takes time to acknowledge figures from arts and entertainment like Gypsy Rose Lee, Douglas Fowley, Peter Sellars, Raymond Walburn, Harold Goodwin, and Joe Frazier, examining how elements of societal and personal experiences seep into their artwork or performances, helping redefine conventional understanding of art forms. American Masters strives to present balanced, comprehensive biographies of these remarkable individuals. The series uncovers the foundations of their craft, their inspirations, successes, failures, and the various challenges faced at different stages of their careers. The show is a unique showcase of the American cultural fabric, treating the viewer to a pantheon of the most influential individuals of their time. The indispensable strength of American Masters is its versatility, adapting with the times to profile figures pertinent to contemporary pop culture, while also taking necessary excursions into the past to explore artists and leaders from critical historical contexts. Over its considerable runtime, the documentary series has evolved into an encyclopedia of American culture and talent, acting as an informative and enriching primer to the fantastic world of American luminaries. All in all, American Masters succeeds as a relentless exploration of creativity, talent, and drive. It's an enriching education about the figures we think we know well, unraveling fascinating tidbits and lesser-known aspects of their lives and presenting a more holistic and human portrait of our icons. It brings the audience closer to understanding the trickles of inspiration that become a flood of cultural influence, shaping society for years to come. It's much more than just a documentary series - it's a love letter to American talent and the indomitable human spirit.

American Masters is a series categorized as a currently airing. Spanning 38 seasons with a total of 325 episodes, the show debuted on 1986. The series has earned a mostly positive reviews from both critics and viewers. The IMDb score stands at 8.2.

Martin Scorsese, Peter Bogdanovich, Tony Bennett
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