Pioneers of Television

(Rochester, New York) – Emmy-award winning radio personality, television host and producer Ryan Seacrest has signed on to narrate the third season of Pioneers of Television, PBS’ Emmy-nominated series that brings to life the stories of television’s most beloved stars. Pioneers of Television returns to WXXI-TV/HD (DT21.1/cable 1011 and 11) on Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 8:00 p.m. and runs through February 5. The new season’s four episodes are “Funny Ladies” (January 15), “Primetime Soaps” (January 22), “Superheroes” (January 29) and “Miniseries” (February 5).  

Stars featured in Pioneers include Carol Burnett, Lynda Carter, Joan Collins, Diahann Carroll, Richard Chamberlain, Patrick Duffy, Lou Ferrigno, Tina Fey, Louis Gossett Jr., Larry Hagman, Cloris Leachman, Joan Rivers, Leslie Uggams, Rachel Ward, Adam West and Betty White, among many others.

In Pioneers of Television more than 100 stars bring their stories to life, telling backstage tales of America’s favorite shows. Each episode melds compelling new interviews with iconic clips and never-before-seen photos to offer an insider’s look at television’s biggest celebrities.

“We are thrilled to bring another season of Pioneers of Television to PBS,” said executive producer Steve Boettcher, who, along with producing partner Mike Trinklein, has helmed numerous acclaimed specials and series about television’s breakthrough performers. “It’s doubly exciting to have our show led by one of contemporary television’s most ubiquitous stars, as well as one of its most ardent fans and talented creators.”

Below are descriptions of Pioneers of Television season three episodes. 

“Funny Ladies”
Tuesday, January 15, 2013, 8:00-9:00 p.m. 

This episode begins with the first standup comediennes to appear on television, including Joan Rivers and the late Phyllis Diller — whose final interview was for this episode. “Funny Ladies”also looks at Lucille Ball’s breakthrough on “I Love Lucy” and the sitcom stars who followed, including Mary Tyler Moore, Betty White and Marla Gibbs. Television’s most beloved variety star, Carol Burnett, reveals the behind-the-scenes stories of her long- running show. The episode also includes interviews with contemporary actresses Tina Fey and Margaret Cho.

“Primetime Soaps”
Tuesday, January 22, 2013, 8:00-9:00 p.m. 

“Dallas” and “Dynasty” kicked off the nighttime soap frenzy in the late 1970s, a phenomenon that continued through the last season of “Knots Landing” in 1993. “Primetime Soaps” offers surprising new details about the legendary “Who Shot J.R.” episode of Dallas, and reveals the backstage personalities that shaped “Dynasty” and “Knots Landing.” Interviewees in the episode include the late Larry Hagman, Joan Collins, Linda Evans, Diahann Carroll, Linda Gray, Patrick Duffy, Michele Lee, Joan Van Ark and Donna Mills.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET

Superheroes crosses many eras: “Superman” in the 1950s, “Batman” in the ’60s, “Wonder Woman” and “The Incredible Hulk” in the ’70s and “The Greatest American Hero” in the ’80s. The episode features in-depth interviews with Adam West, Burt Ward, Julie Newmar, Lynda Carter, Lou Ferrigno, William Katt and others. It also includes comments from Robert Culp about his show “The Greatest American Hero,” recorded just days before he passed away.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET

Miniseries still rank among the top-rated programs in television history. “Roots” was the biggest — interviewees who comment on that groundbreaking series include stars LeVar Burton, Louis Gossett Jr., Leslie Uggams, Ben Vereen, John Amos, Georg Stanford Brown and Ed Asner. This episode also considers the very first miniseries, “Rich Man, Poor Man,” as stars Peter Strauss and Susan Blakely offer fresh insights. All of the key stars from the landmark miniseries “The Thorn Birds” (the most-watched romance) provide surprising commentary about the romance seen by more viewers than any other in TV history. New interviews with Richard Chamberlain, Rachel Ward and Bryan Brown mark the 30th anniversary of one of television’s biggest events.

Pictured: Joan Rivers
Credit: Courtesy of SOFA Entertainment/TJL 



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