American Masters

1986, TV Show

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The Biz: American Masters Rediscovers Bing Crosby

Bing Crosby

Whenever director Robert Trachtenberg tells people he's made a film about Bing Crosby, he says, "The overwhelming response is, 'He's the guy who hit his kids.'" The actor-crooner's Daddy Dearest image was shaped by the 1983 tell-all memoir from son Gary. But Trachtenberg believes Bing Crosby: Rediscovered, his latest project for American Masters (Tuesday at 8/7c on PBS), will remind viewers that despite his flaws, Crosby is one of the 20th century's most influential pop culture figures.

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New Season Reviews: NCIS: New Orleans, Person of Interest

NCIS: New Orleans

If you had a successful recipe for beignets, would you mess with it? Same rule applies for CBS's NCIS: New Orleans (9/8c), the latest transplantation of TV's most durable (and around the world, most watched) franchise. This second spinoff — forcing NCIS: LA to move to Mondays starting next week — of a series that was itself a spinoff (of the long-running JAG) hews strictly to the... read more

The Biz: American Masters Explores the Life of George Plimpton

George Plimpton

Author George Plimpton was making reality television long before anyone used the term.

Plimpton's exercises in participatory journalism led to the groundbreaking 1968 best seller Paper Lion: Confessions of a Last String Quarterback, which tells how he suited up with the Detroit Lions. It was a concept easily adapted to television. He did network TV specials in the late 1960s and 70s where he played triangle with the New York Philharmonic, performed as... read more

The Tuesday Playlist: Billie Jean King, Sons of Anarchy, Dance Finale

Billie Jean King

For nearly 30 years, PBS's great American Masters series has profiled overachievers in the arts and culture at large. It only makes sense than when the documentary series finally decided to do its first study of a sports superstar, it turned to tennis legend Billie Jean King. Masters (Tuesday, 8/7c; check tvguide.com listings) has always reflected personality through performance, so who better than a woman who says of her craft: "Every ball I hit has a consequence."

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The Monday Playlist: Mel Brooks on Masters, Finales (Rectify, Bates Motel), Motive

Freddie Highmore, Vera Farmiga

At 86, Mel Brooks is still the life of the party, a consummate ham and peerless joke-spinning storyteller. "I've come to stop the show," announces the irrepressible comic dynamo as he does just that, breaking into song mid-interview and reinforcing why PBS' American Masters titled its latest must-see career profile Mel Brooks: Make a Noise (Monday, check tvguide.com listings). His brilliant career in TV (Your Show of Shows, Get Smart), the movies and Broadway makes him an overdue American Masters subject, and his unflagging comic energy keeps everyone amused — including an intrusively visible camera crew. "I'm head over heels in love with myself," Brooks says, only half-joking. read more

The Tuesday Playlist: That's a Wrap For Voice Blind Auditions, Cougar Town

Jamila Thompson

The curtain comes down on the best part of TV's hottest singing competition, as the "blind auditions" portion of NBC's The Voice reaches its final act (Tuesday, 8/7c) with the selection of the last members of the four coaches' teams. Any fears that the show would lose its oomph this season with new bodies in the hot seats were quickly put to rest when Usher eased onto his swiveling throne with charismatic grace, adopting a signature "one leg up" posture that was parodied last weekend on Saturday Night Live, while Shakira proved a worthy adversary to the boys' club with her feisty attitude, passion and humor.

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The Biz: King David: Inside the Life of a Showbiz Giant

David Geffen

Entertainment mogul David Geffen was pleased that the prestigious PBS documentary series American Masters wanted to feature him as a subject — until executive producer Susan Lacy told him he had to be interviewed on camera. Geffen likes to talk, but apparently not... read more

TCA Critic's Notebook: A Tale of Two Networks — PBS and Fox

Hugh Bonneville

It's awfully early for the summer TCA press tour — which began over the weekend, and continues through next week — to have peaked. It's even more rare for an entity like PBS to steal the bigger, richer, more hype-heavy broadcast networks' thunder.

But it's hard to imagine any single event, or show, generating a more enthusiastic, jubilant vibe during the annual gathering of the Television Critics Association than the opening night party in honor of Downton Abbey, perfectly timed to celebrate the period drama's astounding 16 Emmy nominations. read more

Monday TV: Remembering Johnny, Smash Finale, House

Johnny Carson

Imagine a TV world where the late-night comedy audience is not fragmented in a clutter of Dave or Jay or Stewart/Colbert, Conan, the Jimmys and Craig. read more

Monday in Review: Bones, a Literary American Masters and More

Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz

Once again testing the audience's willingness to follow Bones all over prime time, Fox follows up its non-surprise eighth-season renewal by moving the enjoyable romantic/forensic procedural to yet another night: Mondays at 8/7c, in front of the ...
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Premiered: 1986, on PBS
Rating: TV-PG
User Rating: (16 ratings)
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Premise: An acclaimed series of biographies of artists, writers, filmmakers, musicians and Hollywood stars. Profiles of Alexander Calder, Paul Simon, Charlie Chaplin and music producer John Hammond won Peabody Awards, while films about Edward R. Murrow, Lucille Ball, Buster Keaton, Lillian Gish and Leonard Bernstein (among others) won Emmys, and a study of the Algonquin Round Table won a 1987 Academy Award.

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