History

American Masters

American Masters, committed to producing comprehensive film biographies about the broad cast of characters who comprise our cultural history.

Tracey Ullman on Mel Brooks' intrinsically American comedy

11m 45s

On July 12, 2012, Tracey Ullman sat down with director Robert Trachtenberg to discuss the joys of working with Mel Brooks for "American Masters - Mel Brooks: Make a Noise" (2013).

Episodes

  • Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road

    S36 E5 - 1h 23m

    Explore the life and career of the singer, songwriter and co-founder of The Beach Boys. The film traces the legendary performer’s journey of reflection on a drive through Los Angeles with his longtime friend and Rolling Stone editor Jason Fine. It includes interviews with Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Nick Jonas, Linda Perry, Jim James, Gustavo Dudamel and Al Jardine.

  • Joe Papp in Five Acts: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Joe Papp in Five Acts

    S36 E4 - 1h 21m

    Joe Papp, founder of The Public Theater, Free Shakespeare in the Park and producer of groundbreaking plays like "Hair," "A Chorus Line" and "for colored girls," created a 'theater of inclusion' based on the belief that great art is for everyone.

  • Waterman – Duke: Ambassador of Aloha: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Waterman – Duke: Ambassador of Aloha

    S36 E3 - 1h 23m

    Narrated by Jason Momoa, discover the inspiring story and considerable impact of five-time Olympic medalist Duke Kahanamoku. He shattered swimming records and globalized surfing while overcoming racism in a lifetime of personal challenges.

  • Marian Anderson: The Whole World in Her Hands: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Marian Anderson: The Whole World in Her Hands

    S36 E2 - 1h 53m

    Discover an international singer who captivated royalty in Europe and defied the conscience of 1939 America. Watch rare archival footage and hear audio recordings exploring her life and career from the Metropolitan Opera to the State Department.

  • Ailey: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Ailey

    S36 E1 - 1h 23m

    Discover the legendary choreographer Alvin Ailey whose dances center on the Black American experience with grace, strength and beauty. Featuring previously unheard audio interviews with Ailey, interviews with those close to him and an intimate glimpse into the Ailey studios today.

Extras + Features

  • Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road

    S36 E5 - 2m 4s

    Explore the life and career of the singer, songwriter and co-founder of The Beach Boys. The film traces the legendary performer’s journey of reflection on a drive through Los Angeles with his longtime friend and Rolling Stone editor Jason Fine.

  • Watch Brian Wilson produce a song: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Watch Brian Wilson produce a song

    S36 E5 - 4m 24s

    See musical genius Brian Wilson at work producing his song, "Honeycomb." "Start with a background track, then you do the background vocals, then you do the leads," said Wilson of his process.

  • Rare studio footage of the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations": asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Rare studio footage of the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations"

    S36 E5 - 1m 14s

    This archival footage from 1966 shows Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys working on "Good Vibrations" in the studio. "Back at that time, there's a lot of upbeat, up-tempo songs but Brian brought in this haunting harmony," said producer and songwriter Linda Perry.

  • Brian Wilson visits his high school: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Brian Wilson visits his high school

    S36 E5 - 2m 41s

    In this outtake from "American Masters—Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road," Brian Wilson stops at Hawthorne High School, his alma mater, where the current principal helps right a wrong in his grades.

  • When journalist Jason Fine first met Brian Wilson: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    When journalist Jason Fine first met Brian Wilson

    S36 E5 - 1m 21s

    Jason Fine first convinced his boss at Rolling Stone to let him cover Brian Wilson's burgeoning solo career in 1997. Since then, Fine and Wilson have enjoyed a lasting friendship.

  • When Joe Papp asked Meryl Streep to take over the theater: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    When Joe Papp asked Meryl Streep to take over the theater

    S36 E4 - 1m 41s

    Meryl Streep was touched, but perplexed when Joe Papp asked her to take over The Public Theater after his passing. "What he wanted was bigger than what could be, which was sort of always what was true with him," said Streep.

  • Joe Papp in Five Acts: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Joe Papp in Five Acts

    S36 E4 - 1m 42s

    Joe Papp, founder of The Public Theater, Free Shakespeare in the Park and producer of groundbreaking plays like "Hair," "A Chorus Line" and "for colored girls," created a 'theater of inclusion' based on the belief that great art is for everyone.

  • Representation in theater was important to Joe Papp: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Representation in theater was important to Joe Papp

    S36 E4 - 3m 19s

    When developing Free Shakespeare in the Park, it was important to Joe Papp that people felt represented in the theater. "Joe wanted to fill the stage with the same kind of people he was gonna fill the audience with. All the people of the city," said James Earl Jones, a frequent collaborator of Papp's.

  • Papp turned a dilapidated building into The Public Theater: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Papp turned a dilapidated building into The Public Theater

    S36 E4 - 2m 14s

    In his search for a home for new American theater, producer Joseph Papp saved a historic building in "ruins" from demolition. It was once the Astor Library, which became the first free public library in New York, and had been converted into a place for homeless Jewish people after World War II. In the 1960s, the building would evolve into a permanent space for The Public Theater.

  • The origins of Shakespeare in the Park: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    The origins of Shakespeare in the Park

    S36 E4 - 2m 25s

    Joe Papp built a stage on a 35 foot portable truck so he could bring Shakespeare to other communities. "I found myself directing all the plays on the mobile unit, because I felt this was the thing I wanted to be closely identified with, to bring Shakespeare to these communities," said Papp. When the truck fell apart in Central Park, Shakespeare in the Park found its permanent home.

  • The meaning of Aloha: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    The meaning of Aloha

    S36 E3 - 2m 10s

    Paul Strauch, Duke's former surf teammate, recounts a conversation he had with Duke about the power of the word "Aloha." "Alo" translates to "in the presence," and "ha" is "the breath of life." "[Aloha] was a symbol of intense greeting and respect." This is an outtake from "Waterman—Duke: Ambassador of Aloha."

Schedule

  • Image
    American Masters: TVSS: Iconic

    American Masters

    Ballerina Boys

    Friday
    Jul 1

    1 Hour

    The story of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, a company of men who dance on pointe as ballerinas.
  • Image
    American Masters: TVSS: Iconic

    American Masters

    Ballerina Boys

    Sunday
    Jul 3

    1 Hour

    The story of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, a company of men who dance on pointe as ballerinas.
  • Image
    American Masters: TVSS: Iconic

    American Masters

    Unladylike2020: The Changemakers

    Wednesday
    Jul 13

    1 Hour

    Women trailblazers help shape American politics at the turn of the 20th century; narrator Julianna Margulies; voice Lorraine Toussaint.

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