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American Love Stories

Press Info
Dig DeeperStoriesDialoguesTV Series


Press Contact: Fisher Company
914-674-6164

PROGRAM DESCRIPTIONS

Summary

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 class families.

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 and marriage.

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 from Africa.

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 Gone"
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 together.

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 excitement.

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."

# # #

Media Relations:

Fisher Company
914-674-6164 phone
914-674-6145 fax
fisherco@aol.com e-mail

Station Relations:

Bunny Tavares/ITVS
413 628-4067 phone
413 628-4656 fax
btavares@crocker.com e-mail

July 1999


Additional Press Materials:

PRESS RELEASE

PHOTOGRAPHS

PROGRAM DESCRIPTIONS

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





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