August 2nd, 2013
Philip Roth
Film: Philip Roth: Unmasked

American Masters explores the life and career of Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-winning novelist Philip Roth, often referred to as the greatest living American writer. Reclusive and diffident, Roth grants very few interviews, but for the first time, allowed a journalist to spend 10 days interviewing him on camera.

The result is Philip Roth: Unmasked, a 90-minute documentary that features Roth freely discussing very intimate aspects of his life and art as he has never done before. The film has its world theatrical premiere March 13-19 for one week only at Film Forum in New York City and premieres nationally Friday, March 29 on PBS (check local listings) in honor of Roth’s 80th birthday.

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Philip Roth: Unmasked is a co-production of Cinétévé and American Masters for THIRTEEN. William Karel and Livia Manera are writers and directors. Fabienne Servan Schreiber and Lucie Pastor are producers. Marlène Vanthuyne is production manager. Stéphanie Mahet is editor, François Reumont is director of photography and Theo Caris is sound. Susan Lacy is American Masters series creator and executive producer.

American Masters is made possible by the support of the National Endowment for the Arts and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Additional funding is provided by Rosalind P. Walter, Anne Ray Charitable Trust, Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Rolf and Elizabeth Rosenthal, Jack Rudin, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, Michael & Helen Schaffer Foundation, and public television viewers.

  • Brian A. Oard

    Sounds good. I’m looking forward to it…. But Roth is not ‘reclusive’ by anyone’s definition of the word. He has given promotional interviews for his recent books; he has given an in-depth Paris Review interview; plenty of recent brief clips from interviews can be seen on You Tube; recently he has allowed reporters to follow him on visits home to Newark, and so on. And if he were truly a recluse, this film would not exist.

  • Marcelo Pellegrini

    Hello, I think PBS will not be broadcasting this episode of American Masters in Wisconsin. Could you tell me if you will later? Will this be available online?


  • George Cariste

    Looking forward to this program. Mr Roth is not only America’s greatest living writer, but America’s greatest writer of all time.

  • A Smith

    I totally agree with Brian above. Mr. Roth is anything but reclusive. I live in the same building as he does in NYC and he’s a completely down to earth, wonderful guy. He even gave everyone in the building a piece of his birthday cake this week! I see him every now and then in the elevator and he’s always kind and happy to chat for the 30 seconds or so we’ll spend together on the way to the lobby. Yes, I’m probably guilty of being star struck, but he is the kind of celebrity I believe we should be celebrating – and not those like Paris Hilton or the Kardashians!

  • Jeanne Goldberg

    Seems as if it is not being show in the UK on the 29th. When might we have the pleasure?

  • Andrew Robinson

    I don’t know him, and I’m sure I never will, but he certainly doesn’t seem reclusive. J.D. Salinger was “reclusive”.

  • Susan Stacy

    Half-way into it, I fell asleep, watched it for a few minutes more, and then turned it off. He was no American Master, by any stretch of the imagination. Moreover, the TV show with him reading, talking about himself, reading some more, was so very boring. It was the worst American Master’s I’ve ever seen. Hope you do better in the future, Susan Stacy

  • Mash Zahid

    There must be so much additional valuable material on the ‘cutting room floor’ from making this wonderful documentary. Plus all of the other interviews, including with the brilliant Jonathan Franzen, should be posted in raw form to let us devoted readers get deeper into the mind of our favorite writer.

    Is this additional content included in the DVD? Will the documentary producers commercialize it shamelessly with an Extended Edition in blu-ray to be released after a pivotal moment??

  • Dan Herndon

    I was in a short story course Philip Roth taught at the University of Iowa in 1962, loved it, and still amazed I was able to have about a half hour to talk with him about a story I’d written. Roth told me something I knew…”You know this isn’t really a story…?” Ya, I knew that, told him I knew that, and I moved on to another dream. There was nothing more he could have said, but I’m so glad I saw the American Masters film and see a lot more of his kindness and love of living than in that short session in a Quonset hut on the banks of the Iowa River.

  • GinaB

    I’m glad to learn of Roth’s influences, that Joyce particularly …. very nice. I also read Portrait when I was 14. (He did read past page 20 in Ulysses.) Shame though that online (and I have truly the best access) it’s better to listen to this than watch because no one’s words line up with their mouths.

  • T. C.

    PLEASE Does any one know if this show repeats at KOCE Channel 35 or KLCS Channel 31?

  • T.C.

    Can someone twll m if this show will repeat

  • Chrys Barnes

    Great show. Such an interesting character with great thoughts about writing. One complaint: the “bleeping” out of cuss words was incredibly intrusive and distracting. It was a loud beep tone that reminded me of an emergency warning. What are we, in 4th grade? Absurd. If you absolutely have to save us from the dreaded F-word, at least do it with some taste.

  • susan zipper

    just saw the American Masters program last night… left me thinking, which is a rare reaction to most celebrated personalities….. a wonderful author and apparently just as interesting as his books.

  • Mary

    I also agree with Brian and Smith… I am very envious to hear that you reside in the same building as this man!

  • Bud

    Had a chance to see this on my local PBS station during the basketball’s “March Madness,” and like other episodes of American Masters, a fascinating and truly down to earth guy. It is great shows like that, that can on occasion prove the late former head of the FCC, Newton Minnow, incorrect, when he stated that TV was a “vast wasteland,” as it has become today !!!

  • h. king

    I would appreciate it if you would kindly e mail me the name of the Mahler piece Roth is listening to. Thank you

  • shirley naso

    is it possible to purchase on cd the soundtrack theme for this show done by thomas wagner? If so, please advise how. thanks.

  • AnnetteR

    I thoroughly enjoyed this interview with Mr. Roth. I just watch the segment again and enjoyed it as much as I did when I watched this on TV. As a European living in the USA for countless years, Philip Roth’s books has provided me with a stronger sense of the culture of America which was able for me to bridge a few and deeper parallels to my upbringing in Scandinavia. I never considered the sexual aspects of his books as major themes, on the contrary, his characters, their thoughts and actions, are intellectually stimulating, a concept which is becoming increasingly difficult in this day and age.

    Thank you for American Masters and PBS for providing this excellent interview.

  • anita

    will this be repeated on pbs…..and when? thanx

  • fre

    can someone post this on youtube… thx

  • Jon Witkowski

    A welcome but too short documentary about a man I am convinced should be the author I would most like to have a drink with. A man for whom all expression of his experience is to be shorn of his (or our) experience if that is ,it is to be decided, by the academics and their allies the politico/pundits that find his prose or person to have been self centered and mean all these long years.

  • Barb Milosevich

    Can I buy this interview with Mr. Roth on DVD? I watched the presentation of Philip Roth last night on pbs where they mentioned all of his novels. Is this different from PR unmasked? I’d love to have all of it on DVD. Can you tell me how I might get this? Thanks so much. I, too would love to know the Mahler piece he is listening to. Thank you again. Barb

  • paul

    pure new york/east coast drivel. shallow hagiography with sexual preoccupation. can’t believe roth let the producers put this twist on his career. aweful


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