“Broadway Workshop” follows the cast of a musical as they audition for backers who would bankroll its shot at Broadway. The show: “Traps!” starring Alan Thicke, Amy Spanger (“Kiss Me Kate”) and Spencer Kayden (“Urinetown”).
Featured: yodeling cowboy Wylie Gustafson; the National Old-Time Country Festival in Avoca, Iowa; a carpenter, a bartender and an office manager in Apple Valley, Minn., auditioning for the Chameleon Theatre Circle production of “Hair”; Minnesota's annual State Fair Crop Art Competition. Works include a portrait of Jesse Ventura in flax and a sprinkling of oats, and Edvard Munch's “The Scream,” in canola, corn and sorghum. Hosts: the elementals, a puppet group.
Puppetry is the theme that ties this episode together (loosely), hosted by characters from the puppet comedy troupe the Elementals. Included: works fashioned from toilet paper, laundry detergent, bubble gum and toothpicks by Tom Friedman; taxidermist Tim Bovard's dioramas in the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County; and artist Tracey Emin's installations, photographs, films, poems, blankets and drawings, taken from her personal experiences.
Profiled: photographer Sally Mann (exploring aspects of death); opera singer Juan Diego Florez (rehearsing “The Barber of Seville”); and British sculptor Andy Goldsworthy (his themes are life's impermanence and nature's mysteries).
Art that captures emotions is explored. Included: poet Robert Pinsky on the W.B. Yeats love poem “When You Are Old”; cartoonist Joe Sacco's takes on the war in Bosnia and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Also: Connie Imboden's surreal underwater photography.
A variety of artists describe their work. Among them: singer Aimee Mann; painters Eric Fischl and Ida Applebroog; puppeteer Basil Twist; poet Tracie Morris; installation artists Vanessa Beecroft and Zoe Leonard; sculptors Ron Mueck and Rob De Mar; photographer Adrienne Salinger; troubador Hiram Martinez; Dance Brazil; swing dancer Joseph Templin; ballroom dancer Bel Kaufman; dancer-choreographer Elizabeth Streb; and Bradley Rubinstein, who digitally edits portraits, replacing the subjects' eyes with those of dogs.
Fitness expert Jack LaLanne hosts a dance-themed episode. Included: Oregon Ballet Theatre's Tracy Taylor, who talks about what ballet is; choreographer David Parsons, whose works emphasize flight; salsa dancer Johnny Vazquez, who was inspired by Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly; and Alvin Ailey veteran Dudley Williams, who doesn't let his age (he was born in 1938) stop him.
A discussion of playwright David Mamet with actor William H. Macy about Mamet's ability to capture the essence of the male psyche in his works; and a look at Richard Serra's massive installation “Switch,” which consists of six rolled sheets of metal, each 50 feet long. Also: poet Isidore Elfman (he's also a dry cleaner) reads his love poems to his wife; laid-off Bethlehem, Pa., steelworkers perform classic plays in local productions of the L.A.-based Cornerstone Theater Company. Anne Meara and Jerry Stiller host.
Guest hosts: Anne Meara and Jerry Stiller. Profiled: North Dakotan Gary Greff, whose sculptures line I-94 near his home town of Regent; barbershop-quartet singers at a “harmony college” convention; and Sid Laverents, a 93-year-old filmmaker and former vaudeville performer.
Focusing on a range of vocal artists, including tenor Juan Diego Florez, rock singer Ani DiFranco, Sam and Dave's Sam Moore, the throat-singing Tibetan monks of the Drepung Gomang monastery, and hip-hop poet Tracie Morris.
Profiling architects Paolo Soleri, known for alternative urban designs; and “social architect” Samuel Mockbee, whose designs incorporated recycled materials. (Mockbee died in December 2001.) The program also includes a discussion of the future of skyscrapers.
Artists discuss their how they get their inspiration. Among them: actor Liev Schreiber on how he becomes Iago in “Othello”; jazzman Joshua Redman on how he improvises; conceptual artist Vik Muniz on ideas as art; and portrait artist Ann Gale on detail, color and light. Also interviewed: John Updkie, painter Chuck Close and artist Vito Acconci.
Artists who explore life's “big questions” are profiled. Among them: playwright-director Richard Foreman; artist-designer David Wilson, who's also the curator of the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver City, Cal.; and Andy Goldsworthy, a British artist who works with stone, wood and water.
Artists working with water. Included: Connie Imboden's black-and-white underwater photos; ice sculptors competing at the 2002 Winter Olympics Art Trials; and writer-director Mary Zimmeman's adaptation of Ovid's “Metamorphoses,” set in and around a pool 27 feet long.
A cartoonist, a filmmaker and a group of satiric journalists are followed as they explore political and social issues. Joe Sacco writes and draws comic books about the war in Bosnia and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And Shirin Neshat makes films and stills about the male-female dynamic in her native Iran, and how women “thrive and exist there in the most amazing ways.” Then there's the weekly newspaper The Onion. Says editor-in-chief Robert Siegel: It's “political satire for people who don't really care about politics, by people who don't really care about politics.”
A show following artists as they play with food (one literally), beginning with the prehistoric Lascaux cave artists. Contemporary artists profiled include sculptor Saxton Freymann, who puts faces on fruits and vegetables; Wim Delvoye, who built a machine that replicates the human digestive system; and Catherine Chalmers, who photographs insects eating each other. “There's really no innocence in eating,” she says.
A look at artists exploring death. Among them: photographer Sally Mann, seen working on her “Death and the Landscape” project at the Antietam Civil War battlefield; bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley, seen performing “graveyard music” with his Clinch Mountain Boys; and taxidermist Tim Bovard, seen (in graphic footage) working on a lowland gorilla. “I deal with death on a daily basis,” he says.
Artists who make their private lives public is explored. Included: Elaine Stritch's one-woman show “Elaine Stritch at the Liberty”; a workshop for aspiring writers; the British visual artist Tracey Emin.