PBS Arts Fall Festival Kicks Off October 14

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Guthrie Theater’s “H.M.S. Pinafore” leads nine-part series that includes Pearl Jam, Bill T. Jones and six more dance, music and opera performances.

ARLINGTON, VA; OCTOBER 6, 2011 – Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic nautical romp “H.M.S. Pinafore,” a production of Minneapolis’ Guthrie Theater and Twin Cities Public Television (tpt), opens the nine-part PBS Arts Fall Festival on Friday, October 14, 2011 at 9:00 p.m. ET on PBS.  “Pinafore” kicks off an exciting line-up of performances that will be broadcast every Friday night at 9 p.m. ET on PBS into mid-December, including the broadcast debut of Cameron Crowe’s documentary music film “Pearl Jam Twenty,” dance performance films from Bill T. Jones, Miami City Ballet and San Francisco Ballet, rock and Americana music programs from Cleveland and North Carolina, and a major new opera from LA Opera.

“From the Blue Ridge to San Francisco and from the Great Lakes to Miami, every community across this country possesses its own mosaic of artistic expression, and only PBS stations bring the rich diversity of these stories to the national stage,” said Paula Kerger, PBS President and CEO. “PBS invites everyone — regardless of geographic or economic situation — to take a front-row seat and enjoy a backstage pass to the world of music, theater, dance, art and cultural history.”

The broadcast programs, which originate from cities around the country, will be introduced by well-known hosts connected to the regions and themes of the programs.  Short films (“mini-documentaries”) produced by local PBS member stations that highlight each city’s unique arts and cultural scenes will accompany the national broadcasts.

The PBS Arts Fall Festival broadcast schedule, with show and mini-documentary descriptions and celebrity host information, is listed below.


THE SHOW:Delight in this spectacular new production of the beloved Gilbert and Sullivan classic from the Guthrie Theater, directed by the theater’s artistic director, Joe Dowling. Infused with fresh musical arrangements of Sir Arthur Sullivan’s memorable melodies — ranging from big band swing to classic pop — H.M.S. Pinafore is pure joy and sensational entertainment for everyone.  The evening’s presentation is produced by PBS member station Twin Cities Public Television (tpt).

AIR DATE:Friday, October 14, 2011, 9:00 p.m. ET

HOST BIO: Rainn Wilson hosts the Fall Festival’s opening broadcast.  A veteran of the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Wilson is best known for his starring role on “The Office.” Wilson performed in Guthrie productions of Philadelphia, Here I Come! in 1996, as well as The Venetian Twins and The Importance of Being Earnest in 1998.

SHORT FILM:“Arts Scene Minnesota” – Home to tens of thousands of artists and 1,700 arts organizations, Minnesota’s artistic landscape has always attracted people who make their livings in the arts. The inculcation of the arts into everyday life here fostered a movement that made Minnesota the only state whose citizens voted to write arts funding into the state constitution. This extraordinary show of support for the arts underscores Minnesotans’ commitment to establish an arts and cultural legacy for future generations. The film from Twin Cities Public Television explores how the state’s diverse arts community began decades ago with visionaries who invested in and guided arts institutions to become successful businesses and world-class organizations. Produced by tpt.

PBS Arts from Seattle: AMERICAN MASTERS “Pearl Jam Twenty”

THE SHOW:In honor of Pearl Jam’s 20th anniversary, award-winning director and music journalist Cameron Crowe creates a definitive portrait of the seminal band carved from more than 1,200 hours of rarely and never-before-seen footage, plus 24 hours of recently shot concert and interview footage. “Pearl Jam Twenty” chronicles the years leading up to the band’s formation, the chaos that ensued soon after their rise to mega-stardom, their step back from center stage and the creation of a work culture that would sustain them. Part concert film, part insider hang, part testimonial to the power of music and uncompromising artists, the film celebrates the freedom that allowed Pearl Jam a way to make music without losing sight of what mattered most to them — their fans and the music fans that they themselves had always been. “Pearl Jam Twenty” features interviews with original band members Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, Mike McCready and Eddie Vedder, drummer Matt Cameron, and friend and Soundgarden singer/guitarist Chris Cornell, as well as archival performance and interview footage of Mother Love Bone, Pearl Jam, Temple of the Dog, Kurt Cobain and Neil Young. AMERICAN MASTERS is a production of Thirteen for WNET. The evening’s presentation airs in collaboration with PBS member station KCTS.

AIR DATE:Friday, October 21, 2011, 9:00 p.m. ET

HOST BIO:Oscar-winning film director Taylor Hackford, who has a particular passion for music, hosts this broadcast.  In addition to Ray, a biopic about Ray Charles, and a documentary about Chuck Berry, many of his acclaimed films, such as An Officer and a Gentleman, Against All Odds and White Nights, included galvanizing soundtrack songs that became popular hits. Hackford is the current president of the Directors Guild of America.

SHORT FILM:“Something in the Water” – Pearl Jam. Nirvana. Soundgarden. Alice in Chains. In the 1990s, Seattle crashed the music party on a wave called grunge. What's it like to make music in the Emerald City 20 years after Pearl Jam’s seminal album, Ten? PBS member station KCTS 9 looks at the camaraderie and creativity that make Seattle a wellspring for groundbreaking musical talent. See and hear the local scene through the DJs, independent label reps and musicians (The Head and the Heart, Macklemore, Grand Hallway) who are taking the city in new directions, and find out why, despite the lure of Seattle's legendary past success, it’s more important to make it here than to make it big. Produced by KCTS.

PBS Arts from Miami: GREAT PERFORMANCES “Miami City Ballet Dances Balanchine and Tharp”

THE SHOW:  Witness the grace and beauty of one of America’s finest dance companies, Edward Villella’s Miami City Ballet, in a trio of signature works by George Balanchine and Twyla Tharp. Watch the company’s critically acclaimed performances of Balanchine’s “Square Dance” and “Western Symphony” and Tharp’s “The Golden Section.” Part of GREAT PERFORMANCES’ “Dance in America,” GREAT PERFORMANCES “Miami City Ballet Dances Balanchine and Tharp” is a production of Thirteen for WNET New York Public Media. The evening’s presentation is in collaboration with PBS member station WPBT.

AIR DATE:  Friday, October 28, 2011, 9:00 p.m. ET

HOST BIO:Academy Award-nominated and internationally acclaimed actor Andy Garcia, who garnered a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his role in The Godfather: Part III, hosts this broadcast.  Garcia has been seen in many notable theatrical and television films, including the hit remake of Ocean’s Eleven and For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story, an HBO film that he produced, and which received Emmy Award and Golden Globe nominations. Garcia has strong connections to Miami: His family was exiled from his native Cuba to South Florida when he was five, he studied acting at Florida International University and he maintains a home in the city.

SHORT FILM:“Miami's Island Arts” – Contemporary Haitian and Cuban artists are creating new venues in their Miami neighborhoods, connecting community members to their traditions and cultural roots while drawing diverse audiences from other neighborhoods and beyond. This program, produced by PBS member station WPBT2, centers on Afro-Caribbean art, with Roberto Ramos’ Cuba Ocho Gallery along the burgeoning Calle Ocho Arts District, and the newly built Little Haiti Cultural Center — home to renowned artist Edouard Duval Carrié and the African dance ensemble Delou, both of whom use art as a tool to build communities. Produced by WPBT.

PBS Arts from the Blue Ridge Mountains: GIVE ME THE BANJO

THE SHOW:  Narrated by actor/comedian/banjoist Steve Martin, “Give Me the Banjo” explores the roots of American music — the minstrel show, ragtime and early jazz, blues, old-time, folk, bluegrass and country. It is a story of America’s quintessential musical instrument from its African slavery roots to the 21st century, featuring performances and commentary from contemporary folk musicians such as Pete Seeger, Earl Scruggs, Taj Mahal, Béla Fleck and the Carolina Chocolate Drops, as well as from leading music historians, instrument builders and collectors.  The show is produced and directed by Marc Fields with Michael Kantor as executive producer. Tony Trischka is co-producer and music director. The evening’s presentation is in collaboration with PBS member station UNC-TV (North Carolina).

AIR DATE:  Friday, November 4, 2011, 9:00 p.m. ET

HOST BIO:The show is hosted by Grammy-winning singer, songwriter and country music royalty Rosanne Cash, whose music spans many genres, from country and folk to blues, rock and pop.  Daughter of the late legend Johnny Cash, she has sung with banjo legend Earl Scruggs, who is featured prominently in the broadcast. In addition to introducing the show, Cash will talk with country music star Rodney Crowell about the influence of banjo music on their individual styles.

SHORT FILM: “Hand Made” – Out of both necessity and ingenuity, the handcrafting of tools and household items helped sustain the people and the culture of the remote Blue Ridge Mountains for centuries. Today these crafts continue in both their most traditional forms and in bold interpretations that veer toward contemporary art.  This film from PBS member station UNC-TV explores the work of four Blue Ridge Mountain artists — wood carver Davy Arch, metal worker Bill Brown, potter Mark Peters and basket maker Billie Ruth Sudduth — capturing the traditions of their crafts while tapping into the creative forces that inspire more abstract expressionism. Produced by UNC-TV.

PBS Arts from Chicago: AMERICAN MASTERS “Bill T. Jones: A Good Man”

THE SHOW:   Follow award-winning director/choreographer Bill T. Jones’s intense creative journey as he leads his company in the creation of Fondly Do We Hope ... Fervently Do We Pray, an original dance-theater piece in honor of Abraham Lincoln’s bicentennial. “Bill T. Jones: A Good Man” is a co-production of A Good Man Film LLC, Kartemquin Films, Independent Television Service (ITVS), THIRTEEN’s American Masters for WNET, and Media Process Group, with the cooperation of the Ravinia Festival. The evening’s presentation is in collaboration with PBS member station WTTW.

AIR DATE:  Friday, November 11, 2011, 9:00 p.m. ET

HOST BIO: This show is hosted by award-winning theater and television actor Anna Deavere Smith. Smith’s theater work explores American character and its multifaceted national identity. She has won numerous honors and awards — among them two Obies, two Tony nominations and a MacArthur fellowship.  In theater, she is known for looking at controversial events from multiple points of view.  She is author of the acclaimed plays Twilight: Los Angeles 1992, Fires in the Mirror and House Arrest.  Her most recent, Let Me Down Easy, tells the human side of the American health care story.  Smith is well known for playing Gloria Akalitus on Showtime’s hit series “Nurse Jackie” and Nancy McNally on NBC’s “The West Wing.”

SHORT FILM: “Jeanne Gang: The Sky’s The Limit” – Chicago is an artistic powerhouse — with world-class theater, symphony, opera and contemporary music — and the birthplace of sketch comedy. But the setting for this art is an achievement in itself. The world’s first skyscrapers were built here, and many noteworthy buildings were designed by a who’s-who list of great architects: Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe, Renzo Piano and Frank Gehry, to name a few.  This short film from PBS member station WTTW highlights a new architect on the scene, MacArthur “Genius Award” winner Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang Architects, highlighting her work style and current projects and her early triumphs, including the award-winning Aqua skyscraper. Framed by the city’s extraordinary architectural legacy, the film shows how Gang and her firm represent Chicago’s future.  Produced by WTTW.

PBS Arts from Cleveland: WOMEN WHO ROCK

THE SHOW:  From Bessie Smith to Janis Joplin to Lady Gaga, this performance documentary vibrates with energy as it traces the indelible mark that amazing women musicians have made on America’s soundtrack. Inspired by the “Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power” exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, “Women Who Rock” reveals new insights into what it means to be female in the male-dominated world of rock and roll, while exploring how those dynamics between the sexes have changed with time. The film is produced by Susan Wittenberg and Carol Stein with assistance from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The evening’s presentation is in collaboration with PBS member station WVIZ/PBS ideastream®.

AIR DATE:  Friday, November 18, 2011, 9:00 p.m. ET

HOST BIO: With nearly 30 years as a music icon and worldwide record sales of 30 million, host Cyndi Lauper is certainly an expert on “Women Who Rock.” Lauper, who appears in the film, won a Grammy Award for Best New Artist for her first album, She’s So Unusual, which spawned five top-ten singles. She’s been nominated for more than 40 Grammy, Emmy, American Music, American Video and MTV awards. In June 2010, she released her 11th studio album, the Grammy nominated Memphis Blues, which sat atop the Billboard Blues Chart for 14 consecutive weeks. Lauper will release the DVD From Memphis with Love on October 25 and her long-awaited autobiography in 2012, along with a new reality show. Lauper is completing work on writing the music for the Broadway show Kinky Boots, and continues her philanthropic work through her foundation, the True Colors Fund.

SHORT FILM: “Artistic Choice” – Most people recognize the power of art to enlighten and inspire individuals and even entire communities. But most of us don’t have a clue how to pay for it. In the early 20th  century, renowned institutions like the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Cleveland Orchestra would “take Mrs. Rockefeller to lunch” — a metaphor for convincing wealthy patrons to write a check. These days, the wealthy patrons are long gone. This short film from PBS member station WVIZ/PBS ideastream® shows how Clevelanders not only moved to recognize the powerful resource of their cultural traditions, but also discovered an innovative way to keep them alive. Produced by WVIZ/PBS ideastream®.

PBS Arts from Los Angeles: GREAT PERFORMANCES “Il Postino From LA Opera” with Plácido Domingo

THE SHOW:  Bask in the beautiful voice of world-renowned tenor Plácido Domingo with the LA Opera in this romantic new opera, by composer Daniel Catán, based on the Oscar-winning Italian film. GREAT PERFORMANCES is a production of Thirteen for WNET New York Public Media. The evening’s presentation is in cooperation with PBS SoCal (Southern California).

AIR DATE:  Friday, November 25, 2011, 9:00 p.m. ET

HOST BIO: Music legend Linda Ronstadt hosts this evening’s broadcast. Her success in so many styles of music, from country, rock, standards, Mexican folk, operetta and more — added to her love for Spanish language, poetry and music — make Ronstadt arguably the most versatile vocalist of the modern era and the ideal choice for this broadcast. One of the most awarded female musicians (10 Grammy Awards, two Academy of Country Music awards, an Emmy Award and numerous gold, platinum and multiplatinum albums), Ronstadt was nominated for a Tony and a Golden Globe for her role in the Broadway production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance. She also received the ALMA award (created by the National Council of La Raza to honor Latino artists who promote a positive image of their community), presented to her by Domingo, making this a felicitous pairing of host and star.

SHORT FILM:Due to this broadcast’s length, there will not be a corresponding film.

PBS Arts from New York: GREAT PERFORMANCES “Andrea Bocelli Live in Central Park” 

THE SHOW:  The broadcast premiere of internationally acclaimed tenor Andrea Bocelli’s free concert in Central Park features his best-known and best-loved songs, with an array of surprise guests from throughout the music world.  Bocelli will be accompanied by the New York Philharmonic, under the direction of music director Alan Gilbert, and the Westminster Symphonic Choir, conducted by Joe Miller. “Andrea Bocelli Live in Central Park” is a production of, and is presented in collaboration with, Thirteen for WNET New York Public Media.

AIR DATE:  Friday, December 2, 2011, 9:00 p.m. ET

HOST BIO:Paula Zahn, a celebrated presence in network news for 30 years, during which time she has interviewed numerous dignitaries and newsmakers, hosts the Bocelli broadcast.  Zahn is currently host of Investigation Discovery’s “On the Case with Paula Zahn” and co-host of THIRTEEN’s weekly arts magazine “SundayArts.” Zahn anchored CNN’s primetime evening program “Paula Zahn Now,” co-hosted “CBS This Morning,” anchored the “CBS Evening News Saturday Edition” and was news anchor at ABC’s “Good Morning America.”  She is an accomplished cello player and has performed extensively on international stages from Seoul to St. Petersburg, making her Carnegie Hall debut in 1992.

PBS Arts from San Francisco: GREAT PERFORMANCES “The Little Mermaid From San Francisco Ballet”

THE SHOW:  Hamburg Ballet’s chief choreographer John Neumeier blends dance, dramatic storytelling and spectacle in this darkly emotional interpretation of Hans Christian Andersen's classic fable. Danced by the world-class San Francisco Ballet — America’s first professional ballet company — the production features an original score by acclaimed young composer Lera Auerbach. Prima ballerina Yuan Yuan Tan dances the title role.

AIR DATE:  Friday, December 16, 2011, 9:00 p.m. ET

HOST BIO: Olympic Gold medalist and Bay Area resident Kristi Yamaguchi is one of the most popular and successful athletes of our time.  Along with her many awards and accomplishments, Yamaguchi is a member of the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame, the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame and the US Olympic Hall of Fame. In 1996, she founded the Always Dream Foundation, dedicated to supporting children’s charities. In 2008 Yamaguchi became a “Dancing With the Stars” Champion and has since become a New York Times best-selling author with her children’s book Dream Big, Little Pig.

SHORT FILM: Title TBD – San Francisco traditionally has attracted misfits, oddballs and eccentrics — in other words, the perfect place for artists! Whether they’re bred here or have journeyed here in search of their “true selves,” artists find that the frontier edge of the Bay Area nurtures creativity and innovation and frees them to give full expression to unique voices and visions. Rather than conform to an arts establishment, artists here create against the grain and off the beaten track. PBS member station KQED’s mini-documentary explores the renegade characteristic of Bay Area arts, revealing artists who are quirky, rebellious and visionary. Produced by KQED.

PBSArts.org will host weekly curated exhibits that take consumers beyond the television experience and into the creative process itself. Participants will be able to explore themes around each Fall Festival program, watch video clips and share their own stories.

To ensure that the arts remain vital to the classroom experience, PBS will help strengthen teachers’ ability to integrate several of the PBS Arts Fall Festival programs into their curricula and help engage students with rich artistic content.  Materials relating to “Give Me the Banjo,” “Bill T. Jones: A Good Man,” “Women Who Rock” and “The Little Mermaid” will be available for the 2011-2012 school year to coincide with the on-air programming.

“Every year, PBS fans join us for journeys into the world of high art, modern cinema or grassroots rock,” said John F. Wilson, SVP and Chief TV Programming Executive. “Last year, PBS offered more than 500 hours of arts and culture programming, which were watched by more than 94 million people. Like a season ticket pass, the PBS Arts Fall Festival will build on this work with local stories captured from around the country and a range of arts unique in the current media landscape.”

Series Executive Producer of the PBS Arts Fall Festival is Glenn Dubose.  Series Producer is Fawn Ring. Funding for the launch of PBS Arts has been provided by Anne Ray Charitable Trust, public television viewers and PBS.

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For additional information, photos, interviews and more, contact Goodman Media or PBS:

John Michael Kennedy / Jennifer Brod, Goodman Media International, 212-576-2700, PBSArts-PR@goodmanmedia.com

Carrie Johnson, PBS, 703-739-5129, cjohnson@pbs.org

For full episode descriptions, images, videos and additional up-to-date information on these and other PBS programs, visit PBS PressRoom at pbs.org/pressroom.