Press Contact: Fisher Company
AN AMERICAN LOVE STORY is one of the most comprehensive
explorations of an American family in existence and
is crafted to capture the complexities and contradictions
of everyday reality in a true-to-life style that constitutes
a new format for American television.
The series chronicles a year and a half in the daily
lives of an interracial couple in Queens, New York
- corporate manager Karen Wilson and blues musician
Bill Sims - and reveals how their 30-year plus relationship
has flourished in the face of racial intolerance, as
well as the challenges generally confronted by middle
Through a unique blend of cinéma vérité
(culled from more than 1,000 hours of original footage),
onscreen interviews, music and media images, the series
reveals the individual and collective experience of
three generations on both sides of this American family,
including the couple's daughters - Cicily, a 20-year-old
senior at Colgate University and Chaney, a 12-year-old
seventh grader on the brink of adolescence.
Filmmaker Jennifer Fox lived with the Wilson-Sims family
for a year and half to capture the ordinary and extraordinary
moments in their lives. In addition, scores of interviews
with the family, their friends and co-workers shed
further light on their history, as well as their perspectives
on race, love, parenting, growing up, growing old,
identity, culture, drugs, sex, religion, work, money
Episode #1 - "Welcome to America"
Against the backdrop of the girls' surprise anniversary
dinner for their parents, Karen and Bill reflect on
the early, difficult years of their relationship.
It all began in 1967 when they met at Indian Lake in
Ohio and became friends - their subsequent love affair
unleashed a firestorm of community outrage. The family
ventures to upstate New York to pick up Cicily at Colgate
University, where she's struggling with relationships
with fellow students, black and white.
Episode #2 - "A Piece of the Puzzle is Missing"
Cicily prepares for a semester abroad in Nigeria while
Bill and Karen contend with conflicting reactions to
her imminent departure. Bill is excited about his
daughter visiting the homeland, while Karen worries
about her safety. After severe hemorrhaging, Karen
is hospitalized and copes with the prospect of a hysterectomy
if experimental drugs fail to solve her problem. Bill
flies to Ohio for a performance that doesn't go well.
Back in Queens, Cicily's first phone call comes in
Episode #3 - "I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up"
Cicily's semester abroad in Nigeria spotlights her continuing
struggle with racial identity and social loyalties.
To her disappointment, this emerges as the central
theme of her trip to Africa. She is stuck in the middle
between black classmates who criticize her friendships
with whites, and whites that are offended by black
classmates ignoring them and resenting their presence
on the trip. The blacks are further angered when they
find themselves getting second-class treatment by their
African hosts. Cicily finds comfort in her first love,
a young Nigerian man who is taunted by his friends
for being with a "white" woman.
Episode #4 - "It's Another New Year and I Ain't
A more mature Cicily, with a new Afro-centric sensibility,
returns to New York. She becomes increasingly withdrawn,
sensing that her parents don't fully comprehend her
feelings and experiences. But family discord dissolves
when it's discovered that Cicily has returned with
malaria. As Christmas approaches, Bill's parents arrive
from Ohio for the holidays. Cicily is home from the
hospital by New Year's Eve and family and friends celebrate
Episode #5 - "Chaney and The Boy"
Bill and Karen are continuously confronted with changes
in their quickly growing children. Cicily returns
to Colgate University for her final year. Chaney,
at the young age of 12, has found her first boyfriend
and wants to date - an issue over which Bill and Karen
are at odds. Bill's impulse is to protect his "baby"
from boys, while Karen is swept up in Chaney's girlish
Episode #6 - "You and Me Against The World"
Back at school, Cicily finds herself further ostracized
by the black community on campus, but after her experience
in Africa, she feels less able to relate to her white
classmates. She struggles to understand who she is
and to find her place in a world defined by categories
that don't include her. Karen travels alone to Florida
for a visit with her mother. Karen realizes that the
decisions each of them have made in their marriages
(her mother remarried after the death of Karen's father)
have taken them into separate worlds.
Episode #7 - "True Love"
Cicily's graduation is just weeks away and Karen is
determined to be well enough to attend. After a failed
attempt at drug therapy, Karen decides to have a hysterectomy
- a decision that prompts anxiety, insecurity and sadness
about her inability to have more children, as well
as her future as a woman and a wife. Bill nurses Karen
back to health and also cares for Chaney. The family
proudly celebrates Cicily's graduation, the first college
graduate from either side of the family.
Episode #8 - "Marion Truth"
Bill returns to his hometown, Marion, Ohio, after Alton,
his son from a former relationship, is arrested on
drug charges. He was just a teenager when he had his
first children and he grapples with guilt about the
son and daughter he left behind. He revisits the streets
of his childhood in a now-disintegrated black community,
noting "there is no more black culture."
Many of his family and old friends now either work
at the nearby prison or have served time there - a
fate Bill narrowly escaped, and one from which he was
unable to save his son.
Episode #9 - "It's My Job"
Cicily is shocked by the responsibilities of adult life.
She returns home from school to find that Chaney has
taken over the room they once shared, her college loans
must soon be paid, and she has to find a job. Bill
and Cicily, at home together after four years apart,
continuously get on each other's nerves. Bill, discouraged
by his flagging career, drinks more and more. Karen
takes the girls away for a weekend at the beach and
bolsters Cicily's self esteem. Bill contends with
his music career and resolves to give up drinking.
Cicily eventually lands a job.
Episode #10 - "We Were Never Ozzie and Harriet"
Bill accompanies Karen to her 25th high school reunion,
a journey fraught with anxiety for both of them. For
the first time in years, they confront many of the
same people who ostracized and tormented them when
their relationship began. The trip back to Ohio prompts
much thought and discussion about the past and the
joyful and painful events that led to Cicily's birth,
which cemented their relationship for life. As they
visit Karen's father's grave, they are steadfastly
resolved that "the two of us will be together
`til the day we die."
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413 628-4067 phone
413 628-4656 fax
Additional Press Materials:
A CONVERSATION WITH JENNIFER FOX
WHAT'S RACE GOT TO DO WITH IT?
by Karen Wilson and Bill Sims
BREAKING OUT OF THE BOX
by Cicily Wilson and Chaney Sims
LAWS OF THE LAND
A Brief History of Interracial Marriage
and Race Classification in America
LOVE, HOLLYWOOD STYLE