PBS to Air Harper Lee Documentary

July 8, 2015
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harper_lee_storyPBS to Air Harper Lee Documentary

 New York metro area celebration “THIRTEEN Days of Harper Lee” features special broadcasts, web exclusives and event at Tisch WNET Studios at Lincoln Center

 Watch films and and connect with more than 200 cultural icons at pbs.org/americanmasters 

  One of the most influential American novels of the 20th century and biggest bestsellers of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird was believed to be the first and only novel by Nelle Harper Lee (born April 28, 1926), until now. On July 14, HarperCollins will release Lee’s earliest known work, Go Set a Watchman, featuring characters from her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, which was published 55 years ago (July 11, 1960).  

 In honor of this landmark literary event, THIRTEEN’s American Masters series presents a newly updated version of Emmy®-winning filmmaker Mary McDonagh Murphy’s 2012 documentary Harper Lee: Hey, Boo, broadcast as Harper Lee: American Masters on Friday, July 10, 9 – 10:30 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). The author of Scout, Atticus & Boo: A Celebration of To Kill a Mockingbird, Murphy was able to read an advance copy of the new novel before updating the film and will live tweet (#HarperLeePBS) during the broadcast.  

 “Go Set a Watchman was written before To Kill a Mockingbird and believed to be lost or destroyed. Its remarkable discovery allows readers of Lee’s beloved classic the chance to see Atticus and Scout again. How and why this happened is a mystery we unravel in the new version of the documentary,” said Murphy.

 In the New York metro area, PBS flagship station THIRTEEN, which produces the American Masters series, will celebrate the release of Go Set a Watchman withTHIRTEEN Days of Harper Lee, a 13-day, multi-platform event on-air, online and in the community from Sunday, July 5 – Friday, July 17 featuring web exclusive content, broadcast interstitials and more:

July 5: “THIRTEEN Days of Harper Lee” launches at thirteen.org/americanmasters

July 6: To Kill a Mockingbird online book club in partnership with New York Public Library launches (runs through July 13)

 July 7: New, multimedia To Kill a Mockingbird classroom resources for teachers on PBS LearningMedia

 July 8: Online To Kill a Mockingbird quiz and Harper Lee book bundle giveaway

 July 9: MetroFocus interview with Murphy premieres at 7 p.m. on WLIW21, 8:30 p.m. on THIRTEEN, 10:30 p.m. on NJTV and online

 July 10: Harper Lee: American Masters at 9-10:30 p.m. on PBS (check local listings) and THIRTEEN with Murphy live Twitter chat (#HarperLeePBS)

July 11: ReddIt AMA with Murphy at 2 p.m.ET

 July 12: PBS NewsHour Weekend Harper Lee report premieres at 6 p.m. on THIRTEEN and 6:30 p.m. on WLIW21; encore broadcast of Harper Lee: American Masters

at 6:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. on THIRTEEN

July 13:Harper Lee: American Masters free screening and Q&A with Murphy at the Tisch WNET Studios at Lincoln Center. Q&A streamed live online at 7 p.m.ET

July 14: Encore broadcast of Harper Lee: American Masters at 6:30 p.m. and late night at 1:30 a.m. on WORLDTM (check local listings) and WLIW World

July 15: Go Set a Watchman first chapter on the American Masters website; encore broadcast of Harper Lee: American Masters at 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. on WORLDTM (check local listings) and WLIW World

July 16: Go Set a Watchman: What Readers are Saying web feature

July 17: Six Degrees of Harper Lee web feature

 

Lee once said she wanted to be South Alabama’s Jane Austen, but became an enigma when she stopped speaking to press in 1964 after her whirlwind success. Harper Lee: American Masters offers an unprecedented look at Lee’s life, illuminates the phenomenon behind To Kill a Mockingbird and the Oscar®-winning 1962 film adaptation, and previews Go Set a Watchman, which Lee wrote in 1957. The documentary features interviews with Lee’s friends and family — including her centenarian sister Alice (now deceased) — who share intimate recollections, anecdotes and biographical details for the first time: Lee’s rise from small-town Alabama girl to famous author, her tumultuous friendship with Truman Capote, and the origin of her most memorable characters: Atticus Finch, his daughter Scout, her friend Dill, and Boo Radley.  

 The film also explores the context and history of the novel’s Deep South setting and the social changes it inspired after publication and through the feature film starring Gregory Peck. Oprah Winfrey, Rosanne Cash, Tom Brokaw, Pulitzer Prize-winners Rick Bragg, Anna Quindlen, Richard Russo, Jon Meacham and Diane McWhorter, James Patterson, Wally Lamb, Scott Turow, civil rights leader Andrew Young, and others reflect on the novel’s power, influence, popularity, and the ways it has shaped their lives.

 “Harper Lee was ahead of her time. She challenged the social order and made a cultural impact with To Kill a Mockingbird that still resonates today. I’m thrilled that American Masters is able to give viewers a sneak peek at Lee’s new novel,” said Michael Kantor, executive producer of American Masters.  

 Launched in 1986, American Masters has earned 28 Emmy Awards – including 10 for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series since 1999 and five for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special — 12 Peabodys, an Oscar, three Grammys, two Producers Guild Awards and many other honors. Now in its 29th season on PBS, the series is also seen on the WORLD channel. To take American Masters beyond the television broadcast and further explore the themes, stories and personalities of masters past and present, the series’ companion website (http://pbs.org/americanmasters) offers streaming video of select films, interviews, photos, outtakes, essays and more.  

 Harper Lee: American Masters is a production of Mary Murphy & Company, LLC. Mary McDonagh Murphy is producer, writer and director. Rich White is director of photography. Christopher Seward is editor and producer. Michael Kantor and Susan Lacy are executive producers for American Masters. The series is a production of THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET.

 Funding for American Masters is provided by The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Rosalind P. Walter, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Rhoda Herrick, Michael & Helen Schaffer Foundation, Vital Projects Fund, Rolf and Elizabeth Rosenthal, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, Judith and Burton Resnick, Jack Rudin, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, and public television viewers. Original funding for this program was provided by The National Endowment for the Arts and the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family.

 About WNET

As New York’s flagship public media provider and the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to more than 5 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 available on air and online. Pioneers in educational programming, WNET has created such groundbreaking series as Get the Math, Oh Noah! and Cyberchase and provides tools for educators that bring compelling content to life in the classroom and at home. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Reel 13, NJTV News with Mary Alice Williams andMetroFocus, the multi-platform news magazine focusing on the New York region. WNET is also a leader in connecting with viewers on emerging platforms, including theTHIRTEEN Explore App where users can stream PBS content for free.

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