American Masters John Muir in the New World
Premieres nationwide Monday, April 18, 2011, 9-10:30 p.m. on PBS
(check local listings)
Producer, Director and Writer
Catherine Tatge has extensive experience as a documentarian, and is a partner with her husband, executive producer Dominique Lasseur, in Tatge/Lasseur Productions and the not-for-profit, Global Village Media. For over 25 years, her work has encompassed many genres, from public affairs, performance and dance, to biographies and the world of ideas.
In 1988, she influenced American television as producer/director of Joseph Campbell and The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers, for which she received an Emmy Award. Her most recent work, Dancing Across Borders, a feature-length documentary that follows Cambodian folk dancer Sy Sar’s transformation to classical Western dance at the NY School of American Ballet was released in March 2010. In 2008 she produced Bill Moyers Journal: Beyond Our Differences, which explored the positive role of faith in the world today and the fundamental unity of world religions. She recently completed work on Imagining the Infinity Small: A Journey Through the Nano-World, a film for Columbia University on the science and application of Nanotechnology. She also produced and directed American Masters Walter Cronkite: Witness to History, which aired in July 2006.
For the last six years, Ms. Tatge has directed two hours of the four-hour PBS series, Art of the 21st Century. Her documentary films about creative genius include biographical portraits of Stella Adler, Martha Graham, Barbara Hendricks, Robert Motherwell, Dawn Upshaw, Tennessee Williams, and William Wyler for American Masters. She directed The 10th Van Cliburn Piano Competition and the Encore Piano Series with Maestro James Conlon.
In her career, she has tackled important, controversial public affairs issues, as she did in two documentaries on the subject of domestic violence, Breaking the Silence: Journeys of Hope and Breaking the Silence: Children’s Stories, which premiered on PBS in 2004 and 2005. Her talent for translating intellectual material to the screen includes numerous works about the human condition – including her series, The Question of God: Sigmund Freud & C.S. Lewis, which premiered on PBS in September 2004.
Ms. Tatge’s close working relationship with Bill Moyers led to many projects: the ten-hour Genesis: A Living Conversation; the two-hour special Fooling with Words and the series Sounds of Poetry, both documenting the largest poetry event in the United States; the special What Can We Do About Violence? Beyond Hate, Facing Hate with Elie Wiesel, and Hate on Trial; and numerous programs of Moyers: A World of Ideas featuring among others, Nadine Gordimer, Derek Walcott, and Louise Erdrich.
Ms. Tatge has been honored with numerous awards including an Emmy Award, a number of CINE Gold Eagle Awards and Chicago International Film Festival Gold Hugo Awards, as well as the Gracie Award, The DuPont Columbia Award, The ACE Award, The Humanitas Prize, The San Francisco International Film Festival Golden Gate Award, and the Silver Screen
Producer and Writer
Leslie Clark is an award-winning producer and writer with over 30 years of experience in television production. Most recently she produced, with Catherine Tatge, Walter Cronkite: Witness to History for American Masters. While working for Bill Moyers, she produced The Prime Time President, Leading Questions (winner of a Peabody award), Secret Government: The Constitution in Crisis (winner of a National Emmy and a Peabody Award), and environmental stories from South Africa, Brazil and Kansas for Earth on Edge. She was a producer/writer on America in the Forties for PBS, and Emerging Markets: Mexico for Wall Street Journal Television, among many others. Her writing credits include The Question of God, Breaking the Silence: Women Speak Out on Domestic Violence and Islam vs. Islam, all for PBS. Her writing has also appeared in The New Yorker magazine.
Director of Photography (recreations)
Bob Elfstrom creates images noted by their confident, clear focus on the essence of the situation or story he is filming. His work commands attention with its visceral beauty, fluid grace and basic human compassion. Among the best in his field, Elfstrom’s work includes notable documentaries on nature and the environment: Running Fence and Wrapped Island, both documentaries about Christo by the Maysles Brothers; Voices in an Ancient Forest about the Tongas National Forest of Alaska; Sheer Courage about rock climber Hugh Herr; four specials on the environment for the World of Audubon series; and Tales of Wind and Water about wooden boat builders in Maine.
Tom Haneke is one of the most respected documentary editors working today. He has edited films directed by Alexandra Pelosi, Nanette Burstein, David Grubin, Barbara Kopple, and Peter Davis, among others. His very first feature documentary, From Mao to Mozart, won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 1980. Two other films he edited also won the Academy Award: He Makes Me Feel Like Dancing in 1983 and American Dream in 1990. He has received three Emmys for Outstanding Editing for his work on He Makes Me Feel Like Dancing, the CBS special Jack, and Mother Teresa. His films, Ghosts of Attica and LBJ, each won the Alfred I. Dupont-Columbia Award for Excellence in Journalism. Other PBS documentaries include Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln for American Experience and The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow, which was awarded a Peabody. His recent project, American Teen, is currently in theatrical release around the country.
Dominique Lasseur is a producer of film and television. In addition to American Masters John Muir in the New World, he is currently coordinating the Civic Life Project launched by Global Village Media in 2008. Working with universities, colleges and high schools, Lasseur and his partner, producer/director/writer Catherine Tatge, are promoting the use of documentary filmmaking as a tool to increase civic engagement.
In his many years in cultural programming, he has overseen numerous productions both in the United States and abroad. His most recent productions include a series on Ethics in America for the Fred Friendly Seminars, featuring many notable participants, including Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Sandra Day O’Connor. In 2008 he produced segments filmed in Afghanistan, Jordan and in California prisons for Bill Moyers Journal: Beyond our Differences.
Lasseur was co-producer of the critically acclaimed The Question of God: C.S. Lewis & Sigmund Freud (September 2004). His work has embraced performance documentaries, biographical profiles, news and public affairs programming, including Breaking the Silence: Journeys of Hope and Breaking the Silence: Children’s Stories, two PBS specials on domestic violence, as well as special programming for the Pew Charitable Trust and the Harvard Business School.
Dominique Lasseur has a diverse background in French television, theater and film. He began his career as a stage and film actor in Marseilles and Paris. In 1979, he moved into television production, working as an associate producer for the major French television networks. Listed among his credits are: Gospel Caravan, Carmen with Mikhail Baryshnikov, Proust with Maya Plissetskaya, and Parisiana with Zizi Jeanmaire. From 1980-1981, he worked for Camera One Company on the post-production of Don Giovanni, the film/opera directed by Joseph Losey, and Houston, Texas, a documentary about the killing of a policeman in Houston, directed by François Reichenbach.
From 1981-1982, Mr. Lasseur worked on a series of documentaries on French overseas territories entitled Le Pays d’Ou Je Viens. During this time, he was also the associate producer on Images de Voyage a documentary on Marguerite Yourcenar produced for French Channel 3 and shot in England, Northern Europe, and France. Prior to coming to the United States in 1983, Mr. Lasseur was the associate manager of the Ballet National de Marseille Roland Petit where he was in charge of television productions and international tours.
Series Creator and Executive Producer
Susan Lacy has been an award-winning originator of primetime public television programs since 1979. As the creator and executive producer of American Masters, she has been responsible for the production and national broadcast of more than 160 documentary films about our country’s artistic and cultural giants, those who have made an indelible impact on the American landscape. Now celebrating its 25th season on PBS, American Masters has garnered unprecedented awards and is consistently recognized by television critics as “the best biographical series ever to appear on American television.”
In addition to her executive producing role, Lacy is an award-winning filmmaker. Her 2004 Judy Garland: By Myself earned her an Emmy award for writing and an Emmy nomination for directing. She wrote, directed and produced Joni Mitchell: Woman of Heart and Mind (IDA nomination for Outstanding Documentary) and Leonard Bernstein: Reaching for the Note (Emmy award and DGA nomination). She produced the Peabody award-winning Paul Simon: Born at the Right Time, directed and produced Rod Serling: Submitted for Your Approval, and directed and produced Lena Horne: In Her Own Voice – all for American Masters. She recently produced LENNONYC, a film exploring John Lennon’s life in New York City, and is currently directing a film on David Geffen.
Under her leadership, American Masters received the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2008 and 2009 as well as 14 other Primetime Emmy awards – five for Outstanding Nonfiction Specials and the other nine in various craft categories. In addition to nine Peabody awards for John Hammond: From Bessie Smith to Bruce Springsteen, Unknown Chaplin, Buster Keaton: A Hard Act to Follow, Paul Simon: Born at the Right Time, Alexander Calder, F. Scott Fitzgerald: Winter Dreams, No Direction Home: Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol: A Documentary Film, and Jerome Robbins: Something to Dance About, she received Grammy awards for Lou Reed: Rock and Roll Heart and No Direction Home: Bob Dylan, 28 additional Emmy nominations, an Academy Award and four nominations.
Lacy’s career in public television began in 1979, as deputy director of performance programs at Thirteen/WNET New York. She was senior program executive for Great Performances and worked as director of program development with The American Playhouse, where she was a founding member. Lacy then ran the East Coast office of Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute from 1984 to 1987. She was a consulting producer at Time-Life Video during the launch of Time-Warner’s new initiatives in long-form documentary production. Lacy also led programs at both the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Lacy was one of the select 2005 honorees at the Museum of Television & Radio’s “She Made It” event, which recognized 50 exceptional women who have created and informed the genre, and a 2008 Washington, DC Women of Vision Awards recipient, honoring those in film and video who inspire and mentor. She was again honored in Washington, DC in 2010 as the recipient of the Cine Golden Eagle Lifetime Achievement Award. She serves on the board of governors of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, on the board of the Film Forum and is a trustee of the Independent Documentary Association. Lacy is a member of the Directors Guild of America, the Writers Guild of America, the Independent Features Project and New York Women in Film & Television.
Lacy has a BA in American Studies from the University of Virginia, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and an MA in American Studies from George Washington University. She was a Graduate Teaching Fellow, a Smithsonian Fellow and completed a residency at the American Academy in Rome. In 1994, she was awarded an honorary doctorate from Long Island University and in 1996, she was named Distinguished Alumnus of the Year at Mary Washington College, the women’s college of the University of Virginia.