/, Films & Videos, Yoko watches/John Lennon documentary LENNONYC wins the EMMY for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series 2011

John Lennon documentary LENNONYC wins the EMMY for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series 2011

John Lennon NYC T-Shirt NYC ©1974 Bob Gruen www.bobgruen.com

LENNONYC wins the EMMY for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series 2011


Congratulations to:

Susan Lacy, Executive Producer
Stanley Buchthal, Executive Producer
Michael Cohl, Executive Producer
Prudence Glass, Series Producer
Julie Sacks, Supervising Producer
Michael Epstein, Producer & Director
Jessica Levin, Producer.



Susan Lacy and Yoko Ono (R) attend the 70th Annual Peabody Awards at The Waldorf-Astoria on May 23, 2011 in New York City. (May 22, 2011 – Photo by Andy Kropa/Getty Images North America

LENNONYC wins a PEABODY AWARD

A record 38 recipients of the 70th Annual Peabody Awards were announced today by the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. The winners, chosen by the Peabody board as the best in electronic media for the year 2010, were named in a ceremony in the Peabody Gallery on the University of Georgia campus.

In the realm of the arts, two American Masters documentaries won Peabodys: LennoNYC, a poignant, revelatory documentary about John Lennon’s life and work in his adopted home city, and Elia Kazan: A Letter to Elia, an homage to the theatrical and film director by Martin Scorsese.

The Peabodys, the oldest awards in broadcasting, are considered among the most prestigious and selective prizes in electronic media. The Peabody Awards recognize excellence and meritorious work by radio and television stations, networks, webcasters, producing organizations and individuals. The 16-member Peabody Board is a distinguished panel of television critics, industry practitioners and experts in culture and the arts. Selection is made by the Board following review by special screening committees of UGA faculty, students, and staff.

COMPLETE LIST OF RECIPIENTS OF THE 70th ANNUAL PEABODY AWARDS

All entries become a permanent part of the Peabody Archive in the University of Georgia Libraries. The collection is one of the nation’s oldest, largest and most respected moving-image archives. For more information about the Peabody Archive or the Peabody Awards, visit www.peabody.uga.edu.



New documentary of Lennon in USA: LENNONYC – TV premiere: PBS Monday 22 November 9/8c

LENNONYC

About the Film

This fall, as the world remembers John Lennon on what would have been his 70th birthday, and the 30th anniversary of his death, American Masters airs LENNONYC, a new film that takes an intimate look at the time Lennon, Yoko Ono and their son, Sean, spent living in New York City during the 1970s.  The film premieres nationally Monday, November 22 at 9pm on PBS (check local listings).

“New York became a part of who John and I were,” said Ms. Ono. “We couldn’t have existed the same way anywhere else.  We had a very special relationship with the city, which is why I continue to make this my home, and I think this film captures what that time was like for us very movingly.”

“The period that Lennon lived with his family in New York is perhaps the most tender and affecting phase of his life as a public figure,” said Susan Lacy, series creator and executive producer of American Masters as well as a producer of the Lennon film.  “Just as the generation that had grown up with the Beatles was getting a little older and approaching a transitional time in their lives as they started families, they saw this reflected in Lennon as he grew from being a rock star icon into a real flesh and blood person.”

“I have long been moved by the honesty and directness of John’s music,” said Michael Epstein, LENNONYC director, producer and writer.  “And, by using never-before heard studio talkback of John from this period, I think I was able to give the viewer a window into John Lennon that had not been put to film before.”

Following the breakup of the Beatles, Lennon and Ono moved to New York City in 1971, where Lennon sought to escape the mayhem of the Beatles era and focus on his family and private life.  At the same time, he created some of the most acclaimed songs and albums of his career, most of them written at his apartment at The Dakota on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, including Mind Games, Whatever Gets You Thru the NightI’m Losing You, and Woman. He also remained highly active in the anti-war movement as well as numerous other progressive political causes.

As much as New York made an impact on Lennon and Ono by offering them an oasis of personal and creative freedom, so too did they shape the city.  At a time when New York faced record high crime, economic fallout and seemed to be on the verge of collapse, Lennon and Ono became a beloved fixture in neighborhood restaurants, at Central Park, at sports events and at political demonstrations.

Lennon and Ono also bonded with millions of their fellow New Yorkers in their experience as immigrants.  The film traces their struggle to remain in the U.S. when the Nixon administration sought to deport them, supposedly based on a narcotics violation, but which Lennon insisted was in response to his anti-war activities.

LENNONYC features never-before heard studio recordings from the Double Fantasy sessions and never-before-seen outtakes from Lennon in concert and home movies that have only recently been transferred to video.  It also features exclusive interviews with Ms. Ono, who cooperated extensively with the production and offers an unprecedented level of access, as well as with artists who worked closely with Lennon during this period, including Elton John and photographer Bob Gruen (who took the iconic photograph of Lennon in front of the skyline wearing a “New York City” t-shirt).

American Masters: LENNONYC is a co-production of Two Lefts Don’t Make A Right Productions, Dakota Group, Ltd and THIRTEEN’s American Masters in association with WNET.ORG for PBS.   Director/writer is Michael Epstein.  Executive producers are Stanley Buchthal, Michael Cohl and Susan Lacy.  Producers are Susan Lacy, Jessica Levin and Michael Epstein.  Susan Lacy is the series creator and executive producer ofAmerican Masters.

American Masters is made possible by the support of the National Endowment for the Arts and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  Additional funding for American Masters is provided by Rosalind P. Walter, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Jack Rudin, Rolf and Elizabeth Rosenthal, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, and public television viewers.

Watch new film about John Lennon in New York @LennoNYC on @pbs 22Nov & share your John Lennon stories http://www.pbs.org/arts


FREE Screening of LENNONYC film

Summerstage (at 69th & 5th), Central Park, NYC.
7pm Oct 9th 2010, John Lennon’s 70th Birthday

NYC MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG AND YOKO ONO
ANNOUNCE PUBLIC SCREENING OF

LENNONYC

IN CENTRAL PARK
TO CELEBRATE JOHN LENNON’S LIFE

 

• October 9th 2010 Screening on Lennon’s 70th Birthday

• Film explores Lennon’s life in New York City during the 1970s as a father, husband, activist and artist

• Features never-before-heard studio recordings and never-before-seen concert film outtakes and home movies

Join the Facebook group for the Central Park event!






STRAWBERRY FIELDS

by Yoko Ono

So now we are gathered here in Strawberry Fields, where 123 countries have donated trees and stones to make a peace garden in tribute to my husband John Lennon. This year he would have been 70 years old. And I am getting from all corners of the world, how they will be celebrating his birthday. Well, New York, will be celebrating it, too, in the way that is very new york. We will be showing an incredible, daring film of John’s life in New York City called LENNONYC here in Central Park for all of you to see on October 9th.

LENNONYC is gritty and real like New York City itself. It shows how John was enticed by this magical city, and enjoyed the freedom it offered. I remember once we were trying to get a cab on Central Park West, and John saying to a guy next to us “You wanna split a cab with us?” Well, that was something John could never have said in London then at the height of his band’s fame. In New york, he was having fun acting the regular guy that he was way back in Liverpool, his home town. He said New York reminded him of Liverpool: cold in winter, hot in summer. And people talking rough to hide their soft hearts.

Making this film was a really incredible experience and I am pleased to have been a part of it. I want to thank American Masters and the whole filmmaking team (Susan Lacy, Michael Epstein, Jessica Levin) who I believe have made a beautiful tribute to John.

The film depicts the city John fell in love with, and the man who was inspired to create many beautiful songs here. It would also be the last city of his life. And New York became part of history of the life of this rennaisance man who gave so much to the world.

On October 9th, I will be in Iceland lighting IMAGINE PEACE TOWER as I do every October 9th, and giving a benefit concert with our son Sean, but I will also be here in spirit- watching the film with you!

I know you will enjoy LENNONYC- it is a gift to this amazing city and everyone here who shares in keeping John’s spirit alive. He was one of us- he believed in what this city represents- incredible wisdom, high energy, and intense love of life. That was John. And he believed that one day, we will all be on this planet “living life in peace.”

Last but not least, I am honoured that Mayor Bloomberg has made it possible for this film to be shown in Central Park on the day of John’s birthday, October 9th.

Thank you.

Yoko Ono
September 24th, 2010
Strawberry Fields, New York City

FREE Screening of LENNONYC film in Central Park, NYC

at 7pm, Oct 9th 2010 – John Lennon’s 70th Birthday

September 24, 2010

New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today joined Yoko Ono, Neal Shapiro, CEO of WNET.ORG, Drew Katz, founder, Infinite Possibilities Foundation, and Rio Caraeff, President and CEO of VEVO, to announce a free, public screening in Central Park of the American Masters film “LENNONYC” on October 9th, 2010, which would have been John Lennon’s 70th birthday.
View Larger Map

The screening, which will be first-come, first served, will take place at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park (best reached by entering the park at 69th Street and Fifth Avenue). The screening, which will take place rain or shine, will include picnic style seating so viewers are encouraged to bring blankets.

People interested in attending should visit www.thirteen.org/lennon for more information.

The screening will start at 7:00 p.m. and doors open at 6:00 p.m. People are encouraged to line up early given there will be limited seating.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono in New York during the 70s. © Ben Ross

“John Lennon and Yoko Ono made New York their spiritual and artistic home. They fed off of the energy and creativity of our neighborhoods, and they added to it immeasurably. Today they are both an integral part of our city’s cultural landscape, and also its physical landscape through this beautiful part of Central Park, Strawberry Fields. I’d like to thank and congratulate the many people who brought this incredible film into existence and who organized this special, free screening for New Yorkers.”
– Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

“New York became a part of who John and I were. We couldn’t have existed the same way anywhere else.  We had a very special relationship with the city, which is why I continue to make this my home, and I think this film captures what that time was like for us very movingly. While I will not be able to attend the screening on John’s birthday, I’m thrilled that there will be a screening in Central Park, a park he loved in the city he loved to call home.”
– Yoko Ono Lennon

“We are extremely honored to celebrate the life and vision of John Lennon, a man whose groundbreaking promotion of social justice is very much alive today in the work of organizations around the city and the country that try to make the world he imagined—one of peace and unity—a reality.”
– Drew Katz, founder of Infinite Possibilities Foundation, a sponsor of the public screening

“We are honored to bring this important documentary to John Lennon’s fans in New York City. At VEVO, we not only embrace today’s music icons but also celebrate those that came first, the pioneers. John Lennon was an early believer in music video and the power of film to tell a story and communicate his messages through music. We look forward to celebrating John’s 70th birthday with all of New York City. ”
– Rio Caraeff, President and CEO of VEVO, the Web’s leading premium music video and entertainment service

“John Lennon was truly an American Master in every sense of the word, as the film portrays his longing to stay in the city that provided him with the inspiration to do what he did best: create music for all generations. As a producer of American Masters, we are proud to share this film with his fans in such an iconic setting.”
– Neal Shapiro, President and CEO of WNET.ORG.

LENNONYC,” which was written and directed by Michael Epstein, and executive produced by Susan Lacy, will premiere at the New York Film Festival on Saturday, Sept 25th and will air nationally on PBS (check local listings) on Nov 22 at 9:00 p.m.

More information about the film, along with photographs and clips, is at: www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono in New York during the 70s. © Ben Ross

Following the breakup of the Beatles, Lennon and Ono moved to New York City in 1971, where Lennon sought to escape the mayhem of the Beatles era and focus on his family and private life.  At the same time, he created some of the most acclaimed songs and albums of his career, most of them written at his apartment at The Dakota on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, including Mind Games, Whatever Gets You Thru the Night, I’m Losing You, and Woman. He also remained highly active in the anti-war movement as well as numerous other progressive political causes.

As much as New York made an impact on Lennon and Ono by offering them an oasis of personal and creative freedom, so too did they shape the city.  At a time when New York faced record high crime, economic fallout and seemed to be on the verge of collapse, Lennon and Ono became a beloved fixture in neighborhood restaurants, at Central Park, at sports events and at political demonstrations.

Lennon and Ono also bonded with millions of their fellow New Yorkers in their experience as immigrants.  The film traces their struggle to remain in the U.S. when the Nixon administration sought to deport them, supposedly based on a narcotics violation, but which Lennon insisted was in response to his anti-war activities.

John Lennon on rooftop in New York City. August, 29 1974. © Bob Gruen / www.bobgruen.com

“LENNONYC” features never-before heard studio recordings from the Double Fantasy sessions and never-before-seen outtakes from Lennon in concert and home movies that have only recently been transferred to video.

It also features exclusive interviews with Ms. Ono, who cooperated extensively with the production and offers an unprecedented level of access, as well as with artists who worked closely with Lennon during this period, including Elton John and photographer Bob Gruen (who took the iconic photograph of Lennon in front of the skyline wearing a “New York City” t-shirt).

To take American Masters beyond the television broadcast and further explore the themes, stories, and personalities of masters past and present, the companion Web site  (pbs.org/americanmasters) offers interviews, essays, photographs, outtakes, and other resources.

American Masters is made possible by the support of the National Endowment for the Arts and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  Additional funding for American Masters is provided by Rosalind P. Walter, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Jack Rudin, Rolf and Elizabeth Rosenthal, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, and public television viewers.

American Masters: LENNONYC is a co-production of Two Lefts Don’t Make A Right Productions, Dakota Group, Ltd and THIRTEEN’s American Masters in association with WNET.ORG for PBS.   Director/writer is Michael Epstein.  Executive producers are Stanley Buchthal, Michael Cohl and Susan Lacy.  Producers are Susan Lacy, Jessica Levin and Michael Epstein.  Susan Lacy is the series creator and executive producer of American Masters.

About Infinite Possibilities Foundation

Drew Katz created Infinite Possibilities Foundation as a vehicle to support causes near to his heart.  His mission: to support the creation of infinite possibilities for those in need while serving to make the world a happier, more peaceful, healthy and loving place.  Since its inception in 2003, Infinite Possibilities has supported over 225 non-profit organizations. Infinite possibilities Foundation is dedicated to supporting programs and organizations that provide a direct and measurable benefit in many challenging areas including but not limited to organizations addressing medical, educational, social, emotional, and cultural needs of those less fortunate. http://infinite-possibilities.org/

About VEVO

VEVO is the web’s leading premium music video and entertainment service with over one billion worldwide streams and nearly 60 million unique visitors in the U.S. and Canada each month. VEVO’s programming is made available across the VEVO Network, which includes VEVO.com (the service’s marquee destination site), VEVO Mobile, VEVO on YouTube, and a VEVO-branded embedded player. The service also serves as a syndication platform for additional internet destination sites, including AOL and CBS Interactive Music Group, expanding the reach of the VEVO Network across the worldwide web.

VEVO was created in partnership by Universal Music Group (UMG), Sony Music Entertainment (SME) and the Abu Dhabi Media Company. It is operated independently by a dedicated management team with offices in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit and San Francisco.

Explore VEVO at http://vevo.com. Journalists/Bloggers can stay updated on VEVO news at http://twitter.com/VEVO_Media

About WNET.ORG

 

New York public media company WNET.ORG is a pioneering provider of television and web content.  The parent of THIRTEEN, WLIW21 and Creative News Group, WNET.ORG brings such acclaimed broadcast series and websites as Need To Know, Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, Charlie Rose, Secrets of the DeadReligion & Ethics Newsweekly, Visions, Consuelo Mack WealthTrack, Miffy and Friends, Angelina Ballerina: The Next Steps and Cyberchase to national and international audiences.  Through its wide range of channels and platforms, WNET.ORG serves the entire New York City metro area with unique local productions, broadcasts and innovative educational and cultural projects.  In all that it does, WNET.ORG pursues a single, overarching goal – to create media experiences of lasting significance for New York, America and the world.  For more information, visit www.wnet.org.


LENNONYC – Premieres at the 48th NY Film Festival on 25 Sept 2010 & PBS on 22 Nov.

In 1971, John Lennon arrived in New York City and felt reborn: at last living in the country that had dominated his artistic imagination, Lennon and his new bride Yoko Ono found in the city the perfect blend of music, politics, culture, and lifestyle.

But those heady first years eventually gave way to a dark period in which both Lennon’s musical career and his personal life almost ran aground—until once again New York City came to his rescue. Using remarkable, rarely seen footage and interviews with many who were close to John, filmmaker Michael Epstein has created a moving, revealing portrait of the music legend’s New York years, detailing not only his triumphs but also some hard times over which he so beautifully recovered in the final years of his tragically curtailed life. World Premiere.

Michael Epstein, 2010, USA, 115m

Sat Sep 25: 9:00pm (ATH) Ticket Info >>
Sat Sep 25: 10:30pm (WRT) Ticket Info >>



American Masters: John Lennon in New York “LENNONYC” – 22 November 2010 on PBS

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – AUGUST 05: Producer Susan Lacy (L) and Yoko Ono of television show ‘Lennon NYC’ speak during the PBS portion of the 2010 Summer TCA Press Tour at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 5, 2010 in Beverly Hills, California.

TCA Press Tour: Yoko Ono promises that we don’t know everything about John Lennon…yet

by Joy Press, LA Times

August 5, 2010 | 8:05 pm

Looking striking and tiny in her rakish fedora and trademark sunglasses, Yoko Ono spoke to journalists at the television critics press tour about the upcoming “American Masters” film “LennonNYC,” which will premiere Nov. 22 on PBS.

“Yes, it seems like you know everything about us. I thought so too,” Ono said. But when she saw the footage being pulled together by the producers of the movie, she was shocked by how much she hadn’t seen before — or even known was being filmed at the time. Ono cooperated fully with the production, which executive producer Susan Lacy said will feature music and images that have never been public before before, such as recordings from four or five unheard sessions and home movies only recently transferred to video.

As the title makes clear, “LennonNYC” focuses on the years the couple spent in Manhattan. He loved the city, Ono explained, because people treated him like a human being there — unlike in London, where “everyone hated John for being with me.” She recalled coming in or out a police station in London with her very long hair “and some girl was pulling it. That’s how it was there.”

Asked why she hadn’t released all of Lennon’s unfinished songs, she said, “Some of the songs could not be out there because John just played it on the piano at home, and I thought if I just put it out there it would be slashed by the critics…. Many people say we want anything. And I say, maybe you want anything but John didn’t want you to have anything. He was a very astute artist and perfectionist.”

Ono noted that “American Masters” has a reputation for thoroughness and intense research, and she seemed delighted with the film’s determination to show Lennon as a three-dimensional person rather than a cliched icon. (“He was actually screamingly funny,” executive producer Lacy said.) Ono also sounded satisfied with the narrow focus on the New York years, when Lennon was raising their son Sean and finding his way back into the recording studio to make “Double Fantasy” with Ono.

It was a “city he loved so much, but it killed him,” she said. “I can see that would happen to people, but I didn’t know that it would happen and he didn’t either. It was his love and it was his death.”

In response to the obligatory question about what Lennon would make of the Internet and Twitter, Ono responded earnestly: “I’m sure he would have used his computer to send his message to the world.”



Yoko Ono Discusses New John Lennon documentary

‘LENNONYC’ explores the Beatle’s last decade in New York

by Steve Appleford, Rolling Stone

John Lennon spent the last decade of his life in New York City, finding freedom, inspiration and tragedy there before his death in 1980. Those years and his relationship with what his widow Yoko Ono calls “the city that he loved so much” are explored in LENNONYC, a new PBS documentary set to premiere November 22nd on American Masters. “It is a very strange city,” Ono said Thursday. “It was his love and it was his death.”

See photos of John Lennon from his New York years.

Ono appeared at a press conference in Beverly Hills to discuss the two-hour film and preview scenes from the work-in-progress, stepping onstage entirely in black, a fedora titled to the side, Sinatra-style. “I was so impressed with how good John was,” she said of watching the film’s previously unseen footage and recording outtakes. “I knew him as a husband. I wish I could tell him, ‘Hey, you’re so good.’ But he is not there . . . I still think John’s songs are giving power to the people.”

In one clip, the raw demo of a song called “Make Love, Not War” is shown evolving into a dreamy final track called “Mind Games.” And longtime friend and sideman Klaus Voorman explains on-camera the lasting impact of Lennon’s songs: “John talks of his problems, of the fighting with himself. And that’s what’s makes it so strong and what people can relate to.”

There are first-hand remembrances from label chief David Geffen and Double Fantasy producer Jack Douglas, who describes how Lennon tuned his guitar to always flatten the D-string, a habit dating back to his Beatles days so his Aunt Mimi could tell which guitar was his. And during a 1974 radio interview on WNEW-FM, Lennon reads the weather report before discussing his ongoing immigration battle: “Maybe they could just ban me from Ohio or something.”

Some of Lennon’s happiest years were spent living at the Dakota apartments in Manhattan after the birth of their son, Sean. “I always knew John Lennon had a very gentle side, otherwise I couldn’t live with him,” Ono said with a smile. “He was always very nice to me. But when Sean was born, he was a totally different person, not just nice. He was so much into bringing Sean up.”

Ono said the upcoming October 4th reissues of Lennon’s post-Beatles albums would focus on his best-known solo music, and not include the experimental works Two Virgins and Life With the Lions. “I want it to be known exactly what he was — he was a brilliant singer-songwriter and a rocker,” she said, “and I don’t want something like the avant-garde sneaking in there.”


THIRTEEN’S American Masters premieres “LENNONYC” on PBS Nov 22

Film explores Lennon’s life in New York City during the 1970s as a father, husband, activist and artist.

Features never-before heard studio recordings and never-before-seen concert film outtakes and home movies.

Connect with other music legends at pbs.org/americanmasters

NEW YORK –This fall, as the world remembers John Lennon on what would have been his 70th birthday, and the 30th anniversary of his death, American Masters airs LENNONYC, a new film that takes an intimate look at the time Lennon, Yoko Ono and their son, Sean, spent living in New York City during the 1970s. The film premieres nationally Monday, November 22 at 9pm on PBS (check local listings).

Currently in its 24th season, American Masters is a production of THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG – one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers.

“New York became a part of who John and I were,” said Ms. Ono. “We couldn’t have existed the same way anywhere else. We had a very special relationship with the city, which is why I continue to make this my home, and I think this film captures what that time was like for us very movingly.”

“The period that Lennon lived with his family in New York is perhaps the most tender and affecting phase of his life as a public figure,” said Susan Lacy, series creator and executive producer of American Masters as well as a producer of the Lennon film. “Just as the generation that had grown up with the Beatles was getting a little older and approaching a transitional time in their lives as they started families, they saw this reflected in Lennon as he grew from being a rock star icon into a real flesh and blood person.”

“I have long been moved by the honesty and directness of John’s music,” said Michael Epstein, LENNONYC director, producer and writer. “And, by using never-before heard studio talkback of John from this period, I think I was able to give the viewer a window into John Lennon that had not been put to film before.”

Following the breakup of the Beatles, Lennon and Ono moved to New York City in 1971, where Lennon sought to escape the mayhem of the Beatles era and focus on his family and private life. At the same time, he created some of the most acclaimed songs and albums of his career, most of them written at his apartment at The Dakota on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, including Mind Games, Whatever Gets You Thru the Night, I’m Losing You, and Woman. He also remained highly active in the anti-war movement as well as numerous other progressive political causes.

As much as New York made an impact on Lennon and Ono by offering them an oasis of personal and creative freedom, so too did they shape the city. At a time when New York faced record high crime, economic fallout and seemed to be on the verge of collapse, Lennon and Ono became a beloved fixture in neighborhood restaurants, at Central Park, at sports events and at political demonstrations.

Lennon and Ono also bonded with millions of their fellow New Yorkers in their experience as immigrants. The film traces their struggle to remain in the U.S. when the Nixon administration sought to deport them, supposedly based on a narcotics violation, but which Lennon insisted was in response to his anti-war activities.

LENNONYC features never-before heard studio recordings from the Double Fantasy sessions and never-before-seen outtakes from Lennon in concert and home movies that have only recently been transferred to video. It also features exclusive interviews with Ms. Ono, who cooperated extensively with the production and offers an unprecedented level of access, as well as with artists who worked closely with Lennon during this period, including Elton John and photographer Bob Gruen (who took the iconic photograph of Lennon in front of the skyline wearing a “New York City” t-shirt).

American Masters: LENNONYC is a co-production of Two Lefts Don’t Make A Right Productions, Dakota Group, Ltd and THIRTEEN’s American Masters in association with WNET.ORG for PBS. Director/writer is Michael Epstein. Executive producers are Stanley Buchthal, Michael Cohl and Susan Lacy. Producers are Susan Lacy, Jessica Levin and Michael Epstein. Susan Lacy is the series creator and executive producer of American Masters.

To take American Masters beyond the television broadcast and further explore the themes, stories, and personalities of masters past and present, the companion Web site (pbs.org/americanmasters) offers interviews, essays, photographs, outtakes, and other resources. American Masters is made possible by the support of the National Endowment for the Arts and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Additional funding for American Masters is provided by Rosalind P. Walter, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Jack Rudin, Rolf and Elizabeth Rosenthal, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, and public television viewers.

About WNET.ORG
New York public media company WNET.ORG is a pioneering provider of television and web content. The parent of THIRTEEN, WLIW21 and Creative News Group, WNET.ORG brings such acclaimed broadcast series and websites as Need To KnowNatureGreat PerformancesAmerican MastersCharlie RoseSecrets of the DeadReligion & Ethics NewsweeklyVisionsConsuelo Mack WealthTrackMiffy and FriendsAngelina Ballerina: The Next Steps and Cyberchase to national and international audiences. Through its wide range of channels and platforms, WNET.ORG serves the entire New York City metro area with unique local productions, broadcasts and innovative educational and cultural projects. In all that it does, WNET.ORG pursues a single, overarching goal – to create media experiences of lasting significance for New York, America and the world. For more information, visit www.wnet.org.



Reviews

LENNONYC
Reviewed by Randee Dawn, Moving Pictures magazine
(from the 2010 New York Film Festival)

Directed/Written by: Michael Epstein
Starring: John Lennon, Yoko Ono and Dick Cavett

Toward the start of “LENNONYC” — which will be broadcast on public television in November as part of PBS’ “American Masters” series — there’s a story about John Lennon. He was showing off a silver-and-fur-trimmed coat, calling it the best he’d ever bought. Why? Because while in New York he was able to walk into a store, browse, try the item on, pull out his American Express card and buy it himself — no Beatlemania in sight.

Undoubtedly, some will see the title of Michael Epstein’s look at John Lennon’s New York years (1971 until his untimely death in 1980) and wonder at yet another Beatle examination. Just how long do filmmakers plan on mining this particular treasure trove?

The thing is, if every Beatle-related documentary could be done as well as “LENNONYC,” they’d all be worth seeing. New York City was the place John and Yoko Ono could escape to and be just ordinary human beings. “We were New Yorkers in our heads,” she says in the film. And in Michael Epstein’s riveting, insightful, well-made film, audiences can get to see what that meant: Lennon the immigrant, Lennon the dad, Lennon the regular man.

There are the expected milestones: The “bed-ins,” the activism, the battles with immigration (Lennon ignored deportation orders for years). But there are the less-known highlights (and lowlights), including his drunken Los Angeles exile when he and Ono separated; the Elton John concert that reunited them; and his break from music while raising his son, Sean.

Avoiding well-traveled roads, Epstein takes what could have been an overwhelming amount of information and makes judicious use of interviews (no other Beatles speak; instead, lesser-heard-from voices are Dick Cavett’s and Elton John’s, to name a few), deftly mixes still photos with home movies, and doesn’t go overboard (or literal) with his music selections. It all ties together nicely with Lennon-esque doodles sketched over interstitial scenes.

It is true that this is a story told repeatedly. But by separating Lennon from the folklore and making him the kind of person you could have had a fantastic time with, Epstein has achieved something few Beatle-based docs have in many years: made us feel the real loss of the talent and the man all over again. And that’s worth noting.

K & K Ulf Kruger OHG/Redferns

by Ellen Wulfhorst, Reuters/Billboard.com

So much has been told about the Beatles that director Michael Epstein knew he needed to say something different in his documentary of John Lennon, which premiered this past weekend at the New York Film Festival.

The film, “LENNONYC,” recounts the ex-Beatle’s decade in the United States as the tale of an immigrant coming to America and the importance of New York City to the musician and his wife, Yoko Ono.

Using previously unreleased audio tapes and outtakes made during studio recording sessions, the movie traces Lennon’s life from his move to Greenwich Village in 1971 to his murder outside his Upper West Side apartment building in 1980.

For Lennon, New York offered an escape from Britain, where he felt the media was harsh to him and to Ono, the movie recounts. New York gave him the freedom to live a more ordinary life, able to dine out or walk in his beloved Central Park without being hassled by fans or press.

“John’s is an immigrant story,” Epstein said at a press screening. It serves as a “reminder” of what coming to America means, especially amid the current public debate over illegal immigration, he said.

“We don’t share a common past,” Epstein said. “What we share is a common vision for the future, at our best.”

The documentary traces Lennon’s anti-war activism, efforts by the U.S. government to deport him, the release of his albums “Mind Games” and “Double Fantasy” and his famed “lost weekend” when he left home and fell into heavy, destructive drinking.

“HE FINDS HIS REDEMPTION”

The audio tapes provide some of the lightest and most moving moments in the film, with Lennon placing a takeout order for sushi and listening to his young son Sean singing lyrics from the Beatles’ hit “With a Little Help for My Friends.”

Lennon eventually found peace when he left the music scene to raise his son, Epstein said.

“It’s in that quiet, domestic place where he builds his own family, that he finds his redemption,” he said.

Sean Lennon was 5 years-old when his father was murdered by Mark David Chapman, whose name is not mentioned in the film.

“I didn’t think Chapman’s motivation colors John’s life or gives it meaning,” the director said. “It doesn’t bring me closer to his art.”

Chapman is serving 20 years to life in prison and was recently denied parole for a sixth time.

“LENNONYC” was produced in part by the public television series American Masters and is scheduled to be shown on PBS stations on November 22. It will be shown in Central Park as well, in a free public screening on October 9, which would have been Lennon’s 70th birthday.

Interviewed on film are Ono, members of the Elephant’s Memory band that played with Lennon and Ono, musician Elton John, talk show host Dick Cavett and photographer Bob Gruen, who took some of the most iconic pictures of Lennon.

There are no interviews with surviving Beatles Paul McCartney or Ringo Starr, nor with Lennon’s sons Julian or Sean. Interviews such as one with McCartney would have tilted the film toward the relationship between Lennon and McCartney, Epstein said, adding, “I wanted this to be about John.”



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2012-08-20T08:46:38+00:00 September 19th, 2011|Events & Exhibitions, Films & Videos, Yoko watches|