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"American Masters" announces new programs for August-December

By Rich Heldenfels Published: May 27, 2014

The official list:

American Masters -- Dorothea Lange: Grab a Hunk of Lightning
Premieres nationwide Friday, August 29, 9-10:30 p.m. on PBS (check local listings)

Her celebrated photograph Migrant Mother is one of the most recognized and arresting images in the world, a haunting portrait that came to represent the suffering of America's Great Depression. Yet few know the story, struggles and profound body of work of the woman who created the portrait: Dorothea Lange. Directed and narrated by Lange's granddaughter Dyanna Taylor, herself an award-winning cinematographer and director of photography, Grab a Hunk of Lightning explores the life, passions and uncompromising vision of the woman behind the camera, whose enduring images document six turbulent decades of American history. Taylor, who learned to see the visual world through her grandmother's eyes, combines intimate family memories and journals with extensive scholarship and never-before-seen footage to bring Lange's life and work, triumphs and pain, into sharp focus. The result is a revealing documentary of the artist whose empathy for people on the margins of society challenged America to know itself. 90 minutes. Preview video:


The Boomer List by filmmaker/photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

*American Masters documentary premieres nationwide Tuesday, September 23, 9-10:30 p.m. on PBS (check local listings)

*Companion book available September 23, 2014, through

*Exhibit of large-format portraits on display September 26, 2014 - June 30, 2015 at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

From the time of its birth, the boomer generation has significantly and uniquely changed our world. In 2014, the last boomer turns 50. American Masters: The Boomer List is a comprehensive look at 19 iconic boomers-one born each year of the baby boom from 1946-1964, including music legend Billy Joel and novelist Amy Tan (The Joy Luck Club). TV viewers, museum visitors and readers will gain insight into the boomer generation through intimate interviews and large-scale portraits by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders (The Black List, The Latino List and The Out List) that focus on exceptional achievement, struggle and identity, telling the story of extraordinary Americans and the history they lived through and often created. Subjects will illuminate the important movements and changes that shaped the world during the baby boom years. Topics will include the environment; arts and entertainment; science; civil, LGBT and women's rights; law; politics; public service; sports; the military; technology and media. The Boomer List is sponsored by AARP and is part of its yearlong program, Boomers@50+, which celebrates this influential generation.


American Masters: Bing Crosby (w.t.)

Premieres nationwide December 2014 on PBS (check local listings)

Bing Crosby was, without doubt, the most popular and influential multi-media star of the first half of the twentieth century. His remarkable appeal, which continues to this day, was in his seemingly effortless ability to pull an audience in to his intimate, laid-back voice. For over three decades, through radio, film and records he reigned supreme. A brilliant entrepreneur, Crosby played an important role in the development of the postwar recording industry. As one of Hollywood's most popular actors, he won the Oscar for 1944's Going My Way and starred in the iconic "Road" films with Bob Hope. Crosby recorded nearly four hundred hit singles, an achievement no one - not Sinatra, Elvis or the Beatles - has come close to matching. Thirty-seven years after his death, he remains the most recorded performer in history. "American Masters: Bing Crosby" will explore the legend of an iconic performer, revealing a personality far more complex than the public persona he so carefully cultivated. Directed by Emmy-winner Robert Trachtenberg (American Masters -- Mel Brooks: Make a Noise). 90 minutes.


American Masters is a production of THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET.
Michael Kantor is series executive producer.
American Masters websites:




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