MICHAEL FEINSTEIN’S AMERICAN SONGBOOK
Fridays, April 5, 2013, 9:00-11:00 p.m. ET and April 12, 2013, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET on PBS.
PBS’ Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook S3 boasts Sondheim, Minnelli, Lansbury and more…
PBS’ Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook season three promises to be the best yet.
Show Tunes, Song and Dance, and Radio’s Star-Making Past Are Among the Topics in a Three-Episode Arc
Stephen Sondheim, Liza Minnelli, Angela Lansbury, Christine Ebersole and other great stars of American music and musical theatre share the spotlight with the country’s most passionate music preservationist as Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook returns to PBS for a new star-studded, three-part season Friday, April 5, 2013, 9:00 p.m. ET.
Season Three finds Feinstein exploring the enduring popularity of show tunes, the pas de deux between music and choreography on stage and the big screen, and the indelible impact that radio – in its star-making heyday – had on the American musical canon.
While crisscrossing the country on a seemingly endless stream of concert dates, Feinstein conducts candid interviews with revered composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim (Sweeney Todd, West Side Story, Follies) and the multiple Award-winning Broadway and television legend Angela Lansbury. He sings with Tony Award-winning actress Christine Ebersole, reminisces with Liza Minnelli about the great dance stars Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire, hosts superstar violinist Joshua Bell on his public radio show, and visits with some of the country’s most well-versed and colorful collectors of musical recordings and music ephemera.
The acclaimed Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook airs as part of PBS ARTS, one of broadcast television’s only programming blocks dedicated to the best in performing arts, on Fridays, April 5, 2013, 9:00-11:00 p.m. ET and April 12, 2013, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET on PBS.
“We’re thrilled to have Michael Feinstein back on PBS for his entertaining and insightful perspectives on American musical history,” said Donald Thoms, Vice President of Programming for PBS. “Programs like AMERICAN SONGBOOK are possible only on public television. PBS continues to be the home for the arts on TV, bringing viewers a front-row seat to the best artists and performances in the world.”
Season Three of Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook features:
“Show Tunes” – Friday, April 5, 2013 at 9 pm. Stars in the Broadway universe don’t shine much brighter than Stephen Sondheim, Angela Lansbury and Christine Ebersole, all of whom appear in this episode about great American musicals. Sondheim reveals the composers he most admires and shows Feinstein some rare home movie footage of the original Broadway production of the classic Follies. Tony Award-winner Ebersole gives a tour de force performance of some of the greatest show tunes of all time, and Lansbury reflects on her Broadway career, from Mame to Sweeney Todd and Gypsy. (Feinstein has a surprise for Angela.) Feinstein discusses his personal relationship with Ira Gershwin (also the topic of his recent book) and performs the classic “Lullaby of Broadway,” “Let Me Entertain You” and “No One Is Alone.”
“Let’s Dance” – Friday, April 5, 2013 at 10 pm. Fred Astaire is Michael Feinstein’s favorite singer — but he also was the favorite singer of Irving Berlin, Cole Porter and George and Ira Gershwin. Why was this dancer, first-and-foremost, so beloved by America’s great composers? With that question, Feinstein launches into an exploration of the marriage between music and choreography, unearthing rare home movies of Astaire rehearsing on set, and remarkable memorabilia from that other screen-dance icon, Gene Kelly. Kelly stuns in never-before-seen footage of his Broadway debut in the original Pal Joey, as does the iconic Cyd Charisse, seen in her first television performance.
Liza Minnelli, who knew Kelly and Astaire, discusses their unique styles and techniques. She also is seen in vintage television clips dancing with Kelly and performing some memorably steamy choreography. Feinstein indulges his inner Astaire with private dance lessons, learning differences between the fox trot and the turkey trot, among others. Finally he explores the endless popularity of ballroom dance and performs the classics “Change Partners,” “Singin’ in the Rain,” “Shall We Dance” and “Let’s Face the Music and Dance.”
“On the Air” – Friday, April 12 at 10 pm – Today, “American Idol” is the country’s biggest music star-maker, but decades ago, the Golden Age of Radio fulfilled the idol-making role in the U.S. Feinstein traces the phenomenon with archival clips of Bing Crosby, Cab Calloway, Kate Smith and many others. He visits with TV and stage star Rose Marie (best known as “Sally Rogers” on “The Dick Van Dyke Show”) and learns about her career as a highly paid child radio star named “Baby” Rose Marie. On his own syndicated public radio program, Feinstein showcases the virtuoso talents of classical superstars, including violinist Joshua Bell and pianist Jeremy Denk, who perform together and discuss intersections of classical and popular music. This episode includes visits to collectors of vintage radios and radio programs. Finally, he discovers a lost radio program that featured Rosemary Clooney, and recalls his own memorable duet with her.
Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook is part of the ongoing, multi-platform “PBS Arts” initiative, which highlights PBS’ commitment to the performing and visual arts, and gives millions of viewers a front-row seat and a backstage pass for the best music, theater, dance, art and cultural history programs on-air and online. For more information: www.pbs.org/arts.
The Season 3 DVD set is available at shopPBS.org or 1-800-Play-PBS. The set includes three one-hour episodes and more than 90 minutes of bonus material.
Funding for Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook is provided by Sara P. Carruthers, The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, The Lizzie and Jonathan M. Tisch Foundation, Hank and Susan Scherer, and William E. Curran.
Just got word that Season Three of my PBS series, American Songbook, will begin Winter -2013. Details coming soon…
MICHAEL FEINSTEIN’S AMERICAN SONGBOOK, SEASON 2 ON PBS
Fridays, February 3, 10, and 17 at 9 PM
Miss the broadcast???? Own the DVD and Blu-Ray
The 2-disc set features three brand new episodes and over 100 minutes of
bonus material including Michael Feinstein in concert and rare footage of
Frank Sinatra, Bobby Short, Peggy Lee, Liberace, Rosemary Clooney, Billy
Daniels and more.
And wait, there’s more….
SEASON ONE now available on Blu-ray. Says Michael, “You haven’t really lived
until you’ve seen Joe Franklin‘s office in super high definition.”
Click here to order:
Michael Feinstein Sings An American Tune
The popular vocalist discusses the DVD release of his American Songbook series and his career.
Michael Feinstein has become one of the country’s leading proponents of the Great American Songbook, not only through his busy concert career — which includes upcoming gigs in Las Vegas, New York, and St. Louis — but through his PBS series Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook, the first two seasons of which are now available on DVD. TheaterMania recently spoke with Feinstein about the show and his career.
THEATERMANIA: How did American Songbook come about?
MICHAEL FEINSTEIN: Our producer, Amber Edwards, first conceived the idea and approached PBS about it. When she asked me, how could I not say yes? It is a great deal of work. And since it’s a highbrow reality show on one level, it’s a little invasive regarding my private life. That was my biggest consideration in actually agreeing to do it, and I am still not comfortable with that aspect of it. Now, I just don’t think about it..
TM: You could have done just one season, but you did two, and are even planning a third — which will include Stephen Sondheim. Why do you keep doing it?
MF: The subject is infinite, and I am grateful to Amber for finding a way to dramatize my peculiar interest and bringing attention to our musical heritage. It’s really been a fantastic experience!
TM: How early in life were you exposed to this kind of music?
MF: As a kid, I listened to a lot of the music my parents listened to, and we watched a lot of variety TV shows like The Laurence Welk Show and Sing Along With Mitch. And I grew up in that transitional time when you heard pop music on the radio, but there were stations that still played standards, so you could hear Frank Sinatra, Jack Jones, or Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme. And the soundtracks of movies were still popular. Louis Armstrong’s rendition of Hello, Dolly was a huge hit.
TM: Why should someone who has seen the series buy the DVD, other than for the joy of watching it all over again?
MF: The DVDs contain a lot of extraordinary archival footage we couldn’t get into the show — like performances of Rosemary Clooney, Frank Sinatra, and Bobby Short. And to have access to that, especially in HD, is worth it for that reason alone. It’s a little treasure trove. You know, Hugh Hefner personally supplied footage from his television shows because he wanted to see it preserved, and now these DVDs are the only place to see those performances.
TM: I loved the last segment of season 2, which focused on Las Vegas. What was your first experience there?
MF: I didn’t go to Vegas until 1981, when I was asked to accompany Rose Marie. We had became friends through Rosemary Clooney, and she had asked me to be her conductor on this show at the Sands, in which she and Jonathan Winters, Carl Ballantine, Scatman Crothers all did improv sketches. The show always went into overtime, because Jonathan did all these sketches that went on and on, and they had to pay the band extra. It was a disaster and our producer went bankrupt very quickly. In fact, Rose Marie personally paid for my flight back to Los Angeles.
TM: That segment also included a section on Liberace. What did you think of him?
MF: I got to see Liberace live quite a bit — I even saw his very last show at Radio City — and it was always kind of strange and exciting to watch him bring all these ladies to a fever pitch. I also got to know him well over the years — we had the same agent — and he was a very kind man. I never heard one unkind thing about him.
TM: You’re going to play Las Vegas yourself this month at the brand new Smith Center for the Performing Arts. Are you excited about that?
MF: Yes. I have done Las Vegas before, sometime at the casinos, but there is definitely a cultural life outside the Strip. They’re really building a beautiful center and I am really looking forward to being one of their opening acts. I am going to do one of my Sinatra tributes, and I promise that it will be a very different look at the man than all those “legends in concert” type of shows.
To order the American Songbook DVD, visit www.shoppbs.org.
Season Two of MICHAEL FEINSTEIN’S AMERICAN SONGBOOK
Premieres this February on PBS
More Cultural History, Intimate Biography,
and a Front Row Seat at Great Live Performances
Friday, February 3rd at 9 PM – “Time Machines”
Friday, February 10th at 9 PM – “Lost and Found”
Friday, February 17th at 10 PM – “Saloon Singers”
Look for three new episodes of MICHAEL FEINSTEIN’S AMERICAN SONGBOOK on PBS airing Fridays at 9pm, February 3, 10 & 17, 2012. In Season Two, Michael’s musical road trip takes some new twists, including a private tour of the now-closed Liberace Museum in Las Vegas, and a visit to the Playboy Mansion where he goes through Hugh Hefner’s record collection.
PHOTO CREDIT: Copyright Hudson West Productions
created by Hudson West Productions www.hudsonwest.org
Check out Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook.
A documentary-style expedition through 20th century American popular music, led by its foremost explorer, Michael Feinstein –historian, collector, raconteur, and showman. We go on the road with Feinstein as he criss-crosses the country doing performances, collecting recordings, sheet music, and memorabilia; unearthing new treasures in archives and attics; and telling first hand stories of the composers, lyricists, performers, and impresarios who made the American songbook this country’s greatest export.
To learn more about this multi-media project and how to support it, contact Amber Edwards at Hudson West. You can also check out the website.
MICHAEL FEINSTEINS AMERICAN SONGBOOK
PREMIERES THIS FALL ON PBS!
Tune in to PBS Wednesdays October 6, 13 and 20 at 8:00 PM (Check local listings)
Three-Part Series Explores the History of American Popular Music Through
the Performances and Adventures of Its Most Passionate Preservationist
CULTURAL HISTORY, INTIMATE BIOGRAPHY,
AND A FRONT ROW SEAT AT GREAT LIVE PERFORMANCES
This three part documentary series follows Michael Feinstein, performer, historian, and passionate collector, on a journey across the country and through time in a celebration and exploration of the classic American popular music of the 20th century. The expedition takes viewers on stage and backstage, into personal archives, attics and flea markets, and inside the private world of a gifted and hard-working artist. Rare archival audio and film footage combine to reveal the social and historical forces behind the music that helped shape the style, attitude, and self-image of America for more than a century.
Producer/Director: Amber Edwards
Co-Producer/Director of Photography: Dave Davidson
Executive Producer: Ken Bloom
FUNDING PROVIDED BY
Sara P. Carruthers
The Lizzie and Jonathan M. Tisch Foundation
Peter O. Hanson
The Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation
The Ted Snowdon Foundation
The Thomas and Agnes Carvel Foundation
The Scherer Foundation
The Ruder Bever Family
Diane P. Kranz
Jamie deRoy Charitable Trust
Copyright 2010 Hudson West Productions