American Masters celebrates Pulitzer Prize-winning women behind classic novels Gone With the Wind and To Kill a Mockingbird in Honor of The Great American Read this September on PBS
Special encore broadcasts follow The Great American Read premieres Tuesday, September 11 & 18 on PBS
Margaret Mitchell: American Rebel airs September 11;
Harper Lee: Hey Boo airs September 18 on PBS (check local listings);
Films stream the following day at pbs.org/americanmasters and PBS apps
American Masters revisits the lives of two Pulitzer Prize-winning authors with special encore presentations of Margaret Mitchell: American Rebel on Tuesday, September 11 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings) and Harper Lee: Hey Boo on Tuesday, September 18 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings) to coincide with new The Great American Read episodes “Fall Kick Off” (Tuesday, September 11 at 8 p.m. on PBS) and “Who Am I” (Tuesday, September 18 at 8 p.m. on PBS), continuing the eight-part television and online series exploring America’s 100 most-loved novels. Gone With the Wind (1936) and To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) are among the top 100 books on the list.
Though their successes were nearly 30 years apart, Margaret Mitchell (11/8/1900 – 8/16/1949) and Nelle Harper Lee (born 4/28/1926) share much in common: two Southern white women who each won the Pulitzer Prize for their debut novels – Gone With the Wind and To Kill a Mockingbird, respectively – two of the bestselling classic books of all time, both adapted into timeless, Oscar®-winning films. Both women were ahead of their time, challenging the social order and making a cultural impact with their books that still resonates today.
Margaret Mitchell: American Rebel engages leading historians, biographers and personal friends to reveal a complex woman who experienced profound identity shifts during her life and struggled with the two great issues of her day: the changing role of women and the liberation of African Americans. A charismatic force until a tragic accident lead to her death at age 48, Mitchell rebelled against the stifling social restrictions placed on women: as an unconventional tomboy, a defiant debutante, a brazen flapper, one of Georgia’s first female newspaper reporters, and, later, as a philanthropist who risked her life to fund African American education. Emmy®-winning executive producer/writer Pamela Roberts uses reenactments based on Mitchell’s personal letters and journals to show how her upbringing and romantic relationships influenced the creation of Gone With the Wind. The film also explores Scarlett and Rhett’s place as two of the world’s greatest lovers and the public’s initial reception to the book and David O. Selznick’s 1939 epic film – from racial lightning rod to model for survival. 2012 marks the 75th anniversary of Mitchell’s Pulitzer Prize win for the only book published during her lifetime and Gone With the Wind’s lasting popularity seems permanently etched in the American cultural landscape.
Harper Lee: Hey, Boo illuminates the phenomenon behind Lee’s beloved novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, and the 1962 film adaptation. Offering an unprecedented look into Lee’s mysterious life, Emmy®-winning filmmaker Mary McDonagh Murphy (author of Scout, Atticus & Boo: A Celebration of To Kill a Mockingbird) interviews Lee’s friends and family, including her centenarian sister Alice, who share intimate recollections, anecdotes and biographical details for the first time: her rise from small-town Alabama girl to famous author, her tumultuous friendship with Truman Capote, and the origin of her most memorable characters: Atticus Finch, his daughter Scout, her friend Dill, and Boo Radley. The documentary also explores the context and history of the novel’s Deep South setting and the social changes it inspired after publication and through the film starring Gregory Peck. Tom Brokaw, Rosanne Cash, Anna Quindlen, Scott Turow, Oprah Winfrey, and others reflect on the novel’s power, influence, popularity, and the ways it has shaped their lives. Lee gave her last interview in 1964 and receded from the limelight. This special encore broadcast will be of the 2015 updated version of the documentary, featuring an in-depth look at Lee’s final novel Go Set a Watchman, which was written in 1957 and published in 2015.
Margaret Mitchell: American Rebel is a GPB production in association with THIRTEEN’s American Masters for WNET. Pamela Roberts is executive producer and writer. Kathy White is director of reenactments. Charlene Fisk is co-producer and editor. Kevan Ward is director of photography. Funding is provided by The Ray M. and Mary Elizabeth Lee Foundation. Original funding provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, Rolf and Elizabeth Rosenthal, Michael & Helen Schaffer Foundation, Jack Rudin and public television viewers.
Harper Lee: Hey, Boo is a production of Mary Murphy & Company, LLC. Mary McDonagh Murphy is producer, writer and director. Rich White is director of photography. Christopher Seward is editor and producer. Original funding provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, Jack Rudin, Michael and Helen Schaffer Foundation, Rolf and Elizabeth Rosenthal and public television viewers.
American Masters is a production of THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET. Major support for American Masters is provided by AARP. Additional support provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Rosalind P. Walter, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, Ellen and James S. Marcus, the Vital Projects Fund, Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, the Lillian Goldman Programming Endowment, Judith and Burton Resnick, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation and public television viewers.