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American Masters: Creative Spark
25 minutes | Oct 14, 2021
Understanding the History and Mystery of Michael R. Jackson
“A Strange Loop” has a lot to say in a one-act show. The metafictional musical is playwright, lyricist and composer Michael R. Jackson’s meditation on self-perception, race, sexuality, art, faith, identity and everything in between. The off-Broadway success of this ambitious work earned Jackson the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. He breaks down the emotional journey behind “Memory Song” - the first song he ever wrote music and lyrics to and the penultimate song in “A Strange Loop.”Watch and Listen to more from American Masters.
31 minutes | Oct 7, 2021
Errol Morris vs. Steve Bannon
Oscar-winning filmmaker Errol Morris broke open the documentary form with his early embrace of re-enactments and stylized lighting and music. His film, "The Thin Blue Line" (1988), put this reputation front and center, and his Oscar-winning film, "The Fog of War" (2003), cemented his legacy. He also has an irresistible attraction to controversial interview subjects - and "American Dharma" is no different. He breaks down the process behind this 2018 film on political strategist Steve Bannon and the controversy that came with it. Watch and Listen to more from American Masters.
2 minutes | Sep 23, 2021
Introducing – American Masters: Creative Spark
How do today’s masters create their art? American Masters: Creative Spark presents narrative interviews that go in-depth with one iconic artist about the creation of a single work. Whether it is Oscar-winning filmmaker Errol Morris explaining the thinking behind a controversial film, comedian Atsuko Okatsuka sharing what makes a joke land, Pulitzer-winning poet Jericho Brown examining the rhythm of a poem, or filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan describing filming during the pandemic, each episode offers a unique window into the world of art and the creative process. Hosted by Joe Skinner. New episodes come out on Thursdays starting October 7th.
31 minutes | Mar 11, 2020
48. Actor and playwright Wallace Shawn
Although he became famous for his work as an actor in films like “Clueless”, “The Princess Bride” and “Toy Story,” Wallace Shawn is also an Obie Award-winning playwright and author, known for his experimental and challenging writing on class politics and morality. Josh Hamilton talks with Shawn about this dichotomy, as the duo explore the ways in which we identify ourselves and find value in our work and life.
25 minutes | Feb 26, 2020
47. Musician Miles Davis
Miles Davis is widely regarded as one of the most innovative, influential and respected figures in music. To celebrate the new documentary on the jazz legend, American Masters - Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool, filmmaker Stanley Nelson talks with Miles Davis’ nephew and drummer, Vince Wilburn, Jr.
24 minutes | Feb 19, 2020
46. Theoretical physicist Dr. Michio Kaku
The beginning of the universe might be the greatest origin story of all time, and theoretical physicist Dr. Michio Kaku has made a career exploring this subject and others like it. Dr. Kaku is the co-founder of string field theory, which some suggest will crack the final code toward understanding the universe. Dr. Kaku talks about building an atom smasher in his childhood garage, the influence of his hero, Albert Einstein, and why he thinks science is the greatest tool towards progress.
42 minutes | Feb 5, 2020
45. Comedian Maria Bamford
Fresh off the heels of her brand new stand-up special “Weakness is the Brand,” comedian Maria Bamford sits down to discuss her disarming approach to comedy, including the hilarious ways you can turn life challenges into comedy gold. Recently, Bamford has brought her signature honesty and openness to the new interview series, "What’s Your Ailment?!," where she engages in candid conversations around mental health issues with fellow comedians and artists, all while stressing the importance of communication and the value of breaking down taboos.
26 minutes | Jan 22, 2020
44. Writer and director Noah Baumbach
Noah Baumbach (“The Squid and the Whale,” “Margot at the Wedding,” “The Meyerowitz Stories”) talks about how and why he makes movies. Through equal parts comedy and drama, Baumbach’s films frequently deal with the pains of family life with stunning clarity. His most recent film “Marriage Story,” now nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture, explores the complicated fallout of a failing coast-to-coast marriage.
38 minutes | Jan 8, 2020
43. Playwright Lynn Nottage
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage talks about the origin of her Broadway play, “Sweat,” and the time she spent developing the story through her conversations with working class residents in Reading, Pennsylvania. Her focus on the struggles of this de-industrialized Rust Belt town predicted a national conversation around identity, race and economy that remains a focal point of political discussions today.
66 minutes | Dec 16, 2019
42. Actor Ethan Hawke
Actor, writer and director Ethan Hawke (“Before Sunrise,” “Training Day,” “First Reformed,” “Boyhood”) talks with his close friend and fellow actor Josh Hamilton about formative projects from Hawke’s career, reflecting on his own origin story and musing on how one can prioritize life goals and discover meaning through artistic pursuits. Hawke and Hamilton also discuss Malaparte, the theater company they co-founded in the 1990s to stage their own independent productions.
43 minutes | Dec 4, 2019
41. Actress and filmmaker Lee Grant
Academy Award-winning actress Lee Grant (“Shampoo,” “In The Heat of the Night,” “Valley of the Dolls”) sits down with American Masters creator Susan Lacy for an in-depth conversation about her upbringing, surviving years on the Hollywood blacklist during the McCarthy era, and her career as an actress and documentary filmmaker. Grant describes how key moments of difficulty in her life emboldened her toward new heights.
45 minutes | Nov 20, 2019
40. Playwright and actor Tarell Alvin McCraney
Academy Award-winning writer and actor Tarell Alvin McCraney talks about his semi-autobiographical play “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue,” and the Academy Award-winning film “Moonlight” that followed. He discusses the centrality of Florida to his work, and the importance of building a sense of community above all else. McCraney’s recent work includes the TV series “David Makes Man” on the OWN Network, the Broadway play “Choir Boy,” and a run of shows as part of the prestigious Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago.
33 minutes | Nov 13, 2019
39. Poet Joy Harjo
In 2019, Joy Harjo became the first Native American Poet Laureate of the United States. She joins us from her hometown Tulsa, Oklahoma to talk about the responsibilities that come with this honor and the importance of representing rich Native American storytelling traditions. She talks about the transcendent nature of language, our human origins as storytellers, our innate connection to the Earth, and lessons she learned from one of her inspirations, writer N. Scott Momaday.
32 minutes | Nov 6, 2019
38. Author R.O. Kwon
Best-selling author R.O. Kwon writes with an empathy that can attract religious and non-religious readers alike. She talks about her debut novel, “The Incendiaries,” a fierce story that deals with faith, loss and fanaticism, and describes how her own loss of faith in high school, and the grief that followed, led to this bold new work.
29 minutes | Oct 30, 2019
37. Artist Mark Rothko
One of the most influential artists of the 20th century, Mark Rothko’s signature style helped define Abstract Expressionism. After a screening of the new American Masters documentary, Rothko: Pictures Must Be Miraculous at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Rothko’s daughter and son, Kate Rothko Prizel and Christopher Rothko, sat down with series executive producer Michael Kantor and director Eric Slade to discuss their father’s legacy. This is a bonus episode of the American Masters Podcast.
60 minutes | Oct 23, 2019
36. Comedian Chris Gethard
A confessional-style comic, Chris Gethard is unafraid to mine his past. He talks about cramming the entire set of his TV show, “The Chris Gethard Show,” into the back of his car’s trunk, and how he pulls off hour-long phone calls with strangers every week on his podcast, “Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People.” Amidst a tumultuous cultural change, Gethard also discusses the current state of comedy and his HBO special, “Career Suicide,” which chronicles his history with depression and anxiety.
63 minutes | Oct 9, 2019
35. Music duo Tegan and Sara
Pop icons and twins Tegan and Sara look back at their early days during the height of grunge and rave culture in a new memoir, “High School,” and companion album, “Hey, I’m Just Like You.” The duo discuss the book’s honest account of the drugs, music and relationships they each explored in their formative years, and how they crafted a new album from recently discovered high school demo tapes.
3 minutes | Oct 2, 2019
Sneak Peek – New season begins October 9th!
Listen to a preview of what’s to come on Season 4 of the American Masters Podcast, featuring new interviews with artists and cultural figures including musicians Tegan and Sara, playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney, Dr. Michio Kaku, actress Lee Grant, comedian Chris Gethard, author R.O. Kwon and more!
21 minutes | Jun 26, 2019
34. Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
What does it mean to stand on the shoulders of giants? Listen to stories from this season of the American Masters Podcast, and learn more about the people who are changing the way we think. Guests include filmmaker Bo Burnham, musician Boots Riley, artist Miranda July, activist DeRay Mckesson, chef David Chang, author Viet Thanh Nguyen and more. Also hear a preview of next season, featuring actress Lee Grant.
37 minutes | Jun 12, 2019
33. Author Viet Thanh Nguyen
Viet Thanh Nguyen discusses growing up in the U.S. as a refugee from Vietnam, and how writing and reading helped him cope with this difficult experience. He explains how his Pulitzer Prize-winning debut novel “The Sympathizer” (2015) and short story collection “The Refugees” (2017) were partly inspired by problems with cultural representation in American pop culture and literature.
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