June 23, 2016
American Masters Celebrates 30th Anniversary with Launch of Digital Video Archive and Podcast
On this day in 1986, THIRTEEN’s American Masters made its series debut on PBS with Private Conversations: On the Set of “Death of a Salesman,” a cinéma vérité documentary about the making of Arthur Miller’s masterpiece for network television, and its stars Dustin Hoffman and John Malkovich.
Today, American Masters celebrates its 30th anniversary with the launch of In Their Own Words: The American Masters Digital Archive andThe American Masters Podcast, featuring previously unreleased interviews filmed for the documentary series: 2,156 tapes, approximately 1,388 digitized hours, 800-plus interviews and counting.
A selection of short-form videos showcasing interviews with David Bowie, Gloria Steinem, Herbie Hancock, Bernadette Peters, Mike Nichols and other luminaries discussing America’s most enduring artistic and cultural giants are available now on the American Masters website. New videos will be released on an ongoing basis as the archive is digitized.
The American Masters Podcast, hosted by series executive producer Michael Kantor, will feature long-form interviews from In Their Own Words. The first season, “Women on Women,” presents interviews with influential women discussing women cultural icons. Episode one features Gloria Steinem in conversation with the late, multiple Emmy-winning filmmaker Gail Levin taking a critical look at the life and career of Marilyn Monroe from 2006’s American Masters – Marilyn: Still Life. New episodes will be released biweekly on the American Masters website, iTunes, Soundcloud and Stitcher.
Listen to the first episode:
All full-length, digitized interviews will be archived by the American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB), a collaboration between WGBH and the Library of Congress to preserve and make accessible significant historical content created by public media.
“I’m thrilled that the National Endowment for the Arts has provided major funding to get this project off the ground so we can finally share gems from the cutting room floor with the public,” said Michael Kantor, executive producer of American Masters. “Series creator Susan Lacy built a rich library of more than 200 documentary films, which is a treasure trove of American arts, culture and intellect, and the amazing interviews that informed these films are largely unseen. While we are still seeking funds to create a comprehensive, interactive digital archive website, we are confident that In Their Own Words and The American Masters Podcast will inspire and entertain a broad audience both today and in the future.”
Pending funding, the In Their Own Words: The American Masters Digital Archive dedicated website will eventually house all full-length, digitized interviews and be a public research-and-learning tool with an emphasis on usability, discoverability and comprehensive indexing to make American Masters interviews easily accessible and available to all.
To further explore the lives and works of masters past and present, the American Masters website currently offers streaming video of select films, outtakes, filmmaker interviews, photos, educational resources and more. American Masters has earned 28 Emmy Awards — including 10 for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series and five for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special — 12 Peabodys, an Oscar, three Grammys, two Producers Guild Awards and many other honors. The series is a production of THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET and also seen on the WORLD channel.
In Their Own Words: The American Masters Digital Archive and The American Masters Podcast is produced by Joe Skinner. Michael Kantor is executive producer.
Major funding for In Their Own Words: The American Masters Digital Archive is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional funding provided by Mike and Ginny Lester. Funding for American Masters is provided by The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Rosalind P. Walter, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, Judith and Burton Resnick, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Vital Projects Fund, Ellen and James S. Marcus, Lenore Hecht Foundation, Michael & Helen Schaffer Foundation, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, Mike and Ginny Lester, and public television viewers.
WNET is America’s flagship PBS station and parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21. WNET also operates NJTV, the statewide public media network in New Jersey. Through its broadcast channels, three cable services (KidsThirteen, Create and World) and online streaming sites, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to more than five million viewers each week. WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, PBS NewsHour Weekend, Charlie Rose and a range of documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings. WNET’s groundbreaking series for children and young adults include Get the Math, Oh Noah! and Cyberchase as well as Mission US, the award-winning interactive history game. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Reel 13, NJTV News with Mary Alice Williams and MetroFocus, the daily multi-platform news magazine focusing on the New York region. In addition, WNET produces online-only programming including the award-winning series about gender identity, First Person, and an intergenerational look at tech and pop culture, The Chatterbox with Kevin and Grandma Lill. In 2015, THIRTEEN launched Passport, an online streaming service which allows members to see new and archival THIRTEEN and PBS programming anytime, anywhere: www.thirteen.org/passport.