Pioneers of Televison
(Rochester, New York) – Standup comedians who landed sitcoms, TV doctors and nurses, standout comedy actors, and the people who broke the color barrier on television, are the subjects explored when Pioneers of Television returns to WXXI-TV Tuesdays at 8 p.m. beginning April 15, 2014. The fourth season of the Emmy-nominated series reveals intriguing behind-the-scenes stories and fascinating facts about television’s most well-known and influential celebrities.
New interviews with legendary stars, including Robin Williams, Roseanne Barr, and Dick Van Dyke, and never-before-seen images mix with timeless footage that continues to entertain TV viewers decades later. Pioneers of Television’s first-hand look at the medium is guided by the stories of television icons who appear in memorable footage and reminisce about the iconic genres they helped popularize.
“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 specials and series on television’s breakthrough performers. “From stars that had Americans howling with laughter in front of their television screens, to the ones who broke barriers – and maybe even some who saved lives – this season’s line-up features legends who paved the way for contemporary television.”
The genres highlighted in this season of four one-hour Pioneers of Television episodes include:
STANDUP TO SITCOM, airing April 15 at 8 p.m.
This star-packed episode features fresh interviews with Jerry Seinfeld, Roseanne Barr, Tim Allen, Ray Romano, and Bob Newhart. The program reveals how America’s top standup comics made the transition to the sitcom form; and includes dozens of clips from “Seinfeld,” “Home Improvement,” “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Roseanne,” and more.
DOCTORS AND NURSES, airing April 22 at 8 p.m.
From George Clooney on “ER” to Richard Chamberlain on “Dr. Kildare,” television’s long love affair with doctors and nurses shows no signs of letting up. Noah Wyle, Anthony Edwards, Gloria Reuben and Eriq LaSalle open up about the secrets of “ER”; Howie Mandel, Ed Begley Jr. and Christina Pickles revisit “St. Elsewhere.” The episode also features the final interview with Chad Everett of “Medical Center” before his recent death.
BREAKING BARRIERS, airing April 29 at 8 p.m.
This episode traces the story of people of color on American television — including the mid-1960s breakthroughs of African Americans Diahann Carroll (“Julia”) and Bill Cosby (“I Spy”). Latino landmarks range from “I Love Lucy” with Desi Arnaz to “Miami Vice” with Edward James Olmos. Also featured are Asian Americans like George Takei (“Star Trek”), who details his youth spent in a Japanese American internment camp.
ACTING FUNNY, airing May 6 at 8 p.m.
This episode peeks behind the curtain to reveal the backstage techniques of America’s favorite comedic actors. The program features the manic improvisational style of Robin Williams, along with his comic predecessor Jonathan Winters. They're a fascinating contrast to Tina Fey, who explains her measured, highly prepared approach. The episode also highlights the all-time #1 Emmy winner for comedy acting: Cloris Leachman.
Pictured: John Goodman and Roseanne Barr
Courtesy of Pioneers Television archives
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