On July 16, the Television Academy nominated American Masters for an Emmy Award in the category of “Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series.”
This is the 75th Emmy nomination for American Masters. The series has won 28 Emmy Awards, including 10 for Outstanding Nonfiction Series and five for Outstanding Nonfiction Special.
“PBS is America’s home for documentaries, and American Masters is thrilled to see this year’s diverse roster of programs recognized with a Primetime Emmy nomination,” said executive producer Michael Kantor. “Congratulations to all the filmmakers whose outstanding work made it happen!”
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy winners will be announced on September 14.
American Masters – Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me is the first major film documentary to examine the performer’s vast career and his journey for identity through the shifting tides of civil rights and racial progress during 20th-century America. Sammy Davis, Jr., had the kind of career that was indisputably legendary, vast in scope and scale. And yet, his life was complex, complicated and contradictory. Davis strove to achieve the American Dream in a time of racial prejudice and shifting political territory. He was a veteran of increasingly outdated show business traditions and worked tirelessly to stay relevant, even as he frequently found himself bracketed by the bigotry of white America and the distaste of black America. Davis was the most public black figure to embrace Judaism, thereby yoking his identity to that of another persecuted minority. In Duke Ellington’s words, he was “beyond category.”
Decades before digital technology transformed how we make and see pictures, Garry Winogrand made over 1 million of them with his 35mm Leica camera, creating an encyclopedic portrait of America from the late 1950s to the early 1980s in the process. When he died suddenly at age 56, Winogrand left behind more than 10,000 rolls of film – more than a quarter of a million pictures. These images capture a bygone era: the New York of Mad Men, the early years of the Women’s Movement, the birth of American suburbs and the glamour and alienation of Hollywood. He produced so many unseen images that it has taken until now for the full measure of his artistic legacy to emerge. American Masters – Garry Winogrand: All Things are Photographable is the first cinematic survey of that legacy. With unprecedented access to Winogrand’s estate and the cooperation of his gallery, the film tells the story of an artist whose rise and fall was – like America’s in the late decades of the 20th century – larger-than-life, full of contradictions and totally unresolved.
Meet James Watson, the Nobel Prize-winning scientist behind the double helix as he confronts his complex legacy. With unprecedented access to Watson and his family, “American Masters: Decoding Watson” explores his life, achievements, controversies and contradictions.
American Masters – Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People explores the remarkable man behind the prestigious prizes. A Jewish immigrant from Hungary, Joseph Pulitzer began as a gifted journalist before becoming a successful publisher and businessman. Pulitzer was famous in his own time for his outspoken and cantankerous editorial voice and his newspapers’ striking illustrations, visual style, national circulation and financial success. Against the context of America’s explosive growth as a world force during the Gilded Age, Pulitzer emerges as the country’s first media titan, reshaping the newspaper to bear witness to and even propel that transformation.
During his remarkable career with the Boston Red Sox, Ted Williams earned many nicknames – The Kid, The Splendid Splinter and Teddy Ballgame, but the only nickname that he wanted was “the greatest hitter who ever lived.” In that pursuit, he combined his preternatural gifts with a fierce work ethic to become widely regarded as one of the greatest ever to play the game of baseball and in the process elevated the science of hitting in ways still emulated today. Ted Williams: “The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived” explores not only the Baseball Hall of Famer’s remarkable on-field accomplishments but also his complicated relationships with his family, teammates, press, fans and himself.
This intimate portrait of maverick painter and printmaker Elizabeth Murray explores the relationship between her family life and career, and reconsiders her place in contemporary art history. Excerpts from her journals voiced by Meryl Streep, verité footage and home videos show Murray’s internal struggles and incredible ambition. Exclusive interviews with art world luminaries describe the thriving New York art scene within which Murray challenged and captivated her viewers. In 2005, Murray was the fifth woman to be celebrated with a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. Breaking convention, Murray’s paintings still defy efforts at categorization. Through them she made an indelible imprint on the contemporary art world. This film chronicles her remarkable journey from an impoverished childhood in Chicago to the extraordinary art world of lower Manhattan, before she lost her life to cancer in 2007. American Masters: Everybody Knows…Elizabeth Murray cements Murray’s legacy as one of the great painters of our time.
Wyeth tells the story of one of America’s most popular, but least understood, artists – Andrew Wyeth. Son of the famous illustrator N.C. Wyeth, Andrew had his first exhibition at age 20, and his painting “Christina’s World” was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in 1948. While Wyeth’s exhibitions routinely broke attendance records, art world critics continually assaulted his work. Detailing the stunning drawings and powerful portraits he created in Chadds Ford, Pa., and on the coast of Cushing, Maine, Wyeth explores his inspirations, including neighbor Christina Olsen and his hidden muse, the German model Helga Testorf, who he painted secretly for 15 years. Through unprecedented access to Wyeth’s family members, including sons Jamie and Nicholas Wyeth, and never-before-seen archival materials from the family’s personal collection and hundreds of Wyeth’s studies, drawings and paintings, American Masters presents the most complete portrait of the artist yet — bearing witness to a legacy just at the moment it is evolving.
American Masters – Charley Pride: I’m Just Me traces the improbable journey of Charley Pride, from his humble beginnings as a sharecropper’s son on a cotton farm in segregated Sledge, Mississippi to his career as a Negro American League baseball player and his meteoric rise as a trailblazing country music superstar. The singer arrived in Nashville in 1963 while the city roiled with sit-ins and racial violence. But with boldness, perseverance and undeniable musical talent, he managed to parlay a series of fortuitous encounters with music industry insiders into a legacy of hit singles, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and a place in the Country Music Hall of Fame.
An outspoken political activist and singer-songwriter, Holly Near’s music and life story illustrate how song can have the power to send a clarion call and influence the course of social justice – from the lesbian and women’s movements to anti-war efforts and the fight to give South American women a voice. American Masters – Holly Near: Singing for Our Lives explores how the activist-artist provided an inspiring soundtrack to nearly a half-century of global and local struggles for equality and change.
*full film not available
One of the most influential American artists of the 20th century, Jean-Michel Basquiat was a rock star of the early ’80s New York art scene. He lived fast, died young and created thousands of drawings and paintings. It took less than a decade for Basquiat, an accountant’s son from Brooklyn, to go from anonymous graffiti writer known as SAMO© to an epoch-defining art star. Today, Basquiat is in the top tier of the international art market along with Picasso, de Kooning, and Francis Bacon. 2018 marks the 30th anniversary of Basquiat’s untimely death from a heroin overdose. In death, he has emerged as one of the most important artists of his generation and now exhibits in museums all over the world.