P.O.V.’s "Wrestling With Angels: Playwright Tony Kushner" 12/12 p.m. on PBS
P.O.V.’s “Wrestling With Angels: Playwright Tony Kushner”
Special Broadcast Wednesday, Dec. 12 at 9 PM on PBS
“You leave [Sundance] wishing that more of the movies … shared [Tony Kushner’s] humor, ambition, vision and dazzling braininess.”
” David Ansen, Newsweek.com
Airdate: A special broadcast presentation of P.O.V.’s Wrestling With Angels: Playwright Tony Kushner airs nationally on Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2007 at 9 p.m. on PBS. (Check local listings.)
Description: Tony Kushner, whose epochal “Angels in America” won a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award, has emerged as one of the country’s leading playwrights”and one of its fiercest moral critics.
In the film Wrestling With Angels: Playwright Tony Kushner, Oscar-winning director Freida Lee Mock (P.O.V.’s “Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision”) followed Kushner for three tumultuous years, from Sept. 11, 2001 to the 2004 presidential election, to delve into the passions that keep him reaching for the great American play.
Actresses Marcia Gay Harden, Meryl Streep, Tonya Pinkins and Emma Thompson, directors Mike Nichols and George C. Wolfe, and writer/artist Maurice Sendak are seen collaborating with Kushner on such landmark works as “Angels in America,” “Caroline, or Change” and “Homebody/Kabul.” In addition, Kushner goes home to Lake Charles, La., where he grew up, and discusses the painful process of “coming out” to his family.
P.O.V.: The P.O.V. series (a cinema term for “point of view”) celebrates its 20th year on PBS in 2007 and was recently honored with a Special Emmy Award for Excellence in Television Documentary Filmmaking. It is American television’s longest-running independent documentary series. P.O.V. is broadcast Tuesdays on PBS from June through September, with primetime specials in the fall and winter.
Filmmaker’s Statement: “The time frame of “Wrestling With Angels,” during which I essentially stalked him all over the country, were immensely active for Kushner with the production of new plays, books, master classes and community work,” says Mock.
“These activities are the building-blocks through which the audience will come, I hope, to understand not only Kushner’s artistry, but the creative process in general, and the difference one artist can make in inspiring us to engage the moral and political issues of our times.”
Filmmaker’s bio: Freida Lee Mock (director/writer/producer) is an Academy and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker who received the Oscar for the feature documentary “Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision,” which premiered on P.O.V. in 1996.
She followed this with the feature documentary “Return With Honor,” about American fighter pilots surviving as POWs in North Vietnam for almost nine years. The film was presented theatrically by Tom Hanks and Playtone after its Sundance premiere. She has been nominated for an Oscar for the short documentaries “Sing!,” “Rose Kennedy: A Life to Remember,” “Never Give Up,” and “To Live or Let Die.” She graduated in history from University of California at Berkeley and attended U.C. Berkeley’s Hastings College of Law. Mock, who was born in San Francisco and raised in Ojai, Calif., lives in Santa Monica.
Mock is currently developing three documentaries on music: “Manzanar and Maestro Kent Nagano” recalls the internment of the renowned conductor’s parents at the Manzanar War Relocation Center in California during World War II and explores the challenges to our civil liberties post-9/11 through music, spoken words and an original symphonic score. “Sing Opera!” looks at how children learn and love to sing opera, based on the new family opera “Keepers of the Night” that premiered in Los Angeles this summer. “Food for Love ” China and the Music of the West” spotlights China’s breakthrough in the classical music world and the renaissance of western music in that country over the last 20 years.
Tony Kushner: Tony Kushner was born in New York in 1956. When he was 2 his parents, both professional musicians, moved to Lake Charles, La., where his father took charge of the family lumber business while continuing to work as a musician. Kushner studied medieval history at Columbia and received a master’s degree in theater directing from New York University.
His first play, “A Bright Room Called Day” is set in the Weimar Republic right before the rise of Hitler. His plays include “Hydriotaphia, or the Death of Dr. Browne”; “Angels in America, Parts One and Two”; “Slavs!”; “Homebody/Kabul” and “Caroline, or Change.” His series of five short plays include “East Coast Ode to Howard Jarvis” and “G. David Schine in Hell.” He was recently commissioned by the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis to write a new play. Tentatively titled “The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures,” it will premiere at the Guthrie in 2009.
His adaptations include Corneille’s “The Illusion”; Ansky’s “The Dybbuk”; Brecht’s “The Good Person of Szechuan”; Goethe’s “Stella”; and the English-language libretti for two operas: Krasa’s “Brundibar” and Martinu’s “Comedy on the Bridge.”
Besides the Pulitzer, Kushner has received numerous awards including the Spirit of Justice Award from the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAAD) and the Award of Courage from AMFAR, and a Cultural Achievement Award from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture.