Woody Allen: A Documentary: American Masters on WXXI-TV

Woody Allen: A Documentary: American Masters on WXXI-TV

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 9:00pm

Photo: Woody Allen

Courtesy of Brian Hamill/©MGM

Gaining unprecedented access to the notoriously private film legend, Robert Weide delves into Woody Allen’s life and creative process.

Iconic writer, director, actor, comedian, and musician Woody Allen allowed his life and creative process to be documented on-camera for the first time. Emmy®-winning, Oscar®-nominated filmmaker Robert Weide followed the film legend over a year and a half to create the ultimate film biography. Woody Allen: A Documentary: American Masters premieres Sunday, November 20 at 9 p.m. on WXXI-TV/HD (DT21.1/cable 1011 and 11).

“Woody Allen was always the big ‘get’ for me,” says Robert Weide, best known for his long-term directing/producing stint on Curb Your Enthusiasm, which earned him Emmy® and Golden Globe® Awards. “The prolific nature of Woody’s output has provided me with an embarrassment of riches. In fact, Woody will have made three features just in the time it’s taken me to make this one documentary.”

Beginning with Allen’s childhood and his first professional gigs as a teen — furnishing jokes for comics and publicists — Woody Allen: A Documentary: American Masters chronicles the trajectory and longevity of Allen’s career: from his work in the 1950s-60s as a TV scribe for Sid Caesar, standup comedian, and frequent TV talk show guest, to a writer-director averaging one film-per-year for more than 40 years. Weide covers Allen’s earliest film work in Take the Money and Run, Bananas, Sleeper, and Love and Death; frequent Oscar® favorites such as Annie Hall, Manhattan, Zelig, Broadway Danny Rose, Purple Rose of Cairo, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Husbands & Wives, Bullets Over Broadway, and Mighty Aphrodite; and his recent globetrotting phase with Match Point, Vicky Christina Barcelona, and this year’s box office smash Midnight in Paris.

Exploring the ultimate “independent filmmaker’s” writing habits, casting, directing, and relationship with his actors, Weide traveled with Allen from the London set of You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger — a major coup“considering Woody has never allowed so much as an EPK [Electronic Press Kit] crew on his sets,” claims Weide — to the Cannes premiere of Midnight in Paris this May. He also filmed Allen at home, in the editing room and touring his childhood haunts in the Midwood section of Brooklyn. New interviews provide insight and backstory: actors Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin, Penelope Cruz, John Cusack, Larry David, Mariel Hemingway, Scarlett Johansson, Julie Kavner, Diane Keaton, Martin Landau, Louise Lasser, Sean Penn, Tony Roberts, Chris Rock, Mira Sorvino, Naomi Watts, Dianne Wiest, and Owen Wilson; writing collaborators Marshall Brickman, Mickey Rose and Doug McGrath; cinematographers Gordon Willis and Vilmos Zsigmond; Allen’s sister Letty Aronson; longtime manager Jack Rollins; casting director Juliet Taylor; pals Dick Cavett and Martin Scorsese; and others.

Woody Allen: American Masters also touches on Allen’s contributions as a writer for the theater and his casual pieces for The New Yorker, as well as his frequent moonlighting gig as a clarinet player with a New Orleans-style jazz band. “He never refused a request, and he never declined to answer a question,” says Weide.

share