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 atpbs.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 documentaryHarper 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 with “THIRTEEN Days of Harper Lee,” a 13-day, multi-platform event on-air, online and in the community from Sunday, July 5 – Friday, July 17. Highlights include an online book club in partnership with the New York Public Library (July 6-13); new, multimedia To Kill a Mockingbird classroom resources for teachers on PBS LearningMedia (July 7); the premiere of a MetroFocus interview with Murphy (July 9 at 7 p.m. on WLIW21, 8:30 p.m. on THIRTEEN and 10:30 p.m. on NJTV); a free screening of Harper Lee: American Masters and a Q&A with Murphy at the Tisch WNET Studios at Lincoln Center streamed live online (July 13); web exclusive content; broadcast interstitials and more.
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 Mastersoffers 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 withTo 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 ofAmerican 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 Mastersbeyond 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.