American Masters Johnny Carson: King of Late Night
Premieres nationally Monday, May 14 at 9 p.m. (ET) on PBS
(check local listings)
Writer, Director and Producer
Two-time Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Peter Jones began his career as a broadcast journalist. A graduate of Stanford University with a Master’s Degree in Journalism from Northwestern, Jones served as an assignment editor, feature reporter and news anchor at television stations across the country, winning numerous honors from United Press International and The Associated Press.
In 1987, he formed Peter Jones Productions (PJP), originally focusing on documentaries related to the history of the Hollywood film industry. The company produced 85 profiles for the A&E series Biography over a 10-year period. Jones became well-known for securing previously unattainable rights without relinquishing editorial control, including those for such subjects as Charlie Chaplin, Dr. Seuss and Georgia O’Keeffe. Music artists were a specialty. In addition to features on Sam Phillips, Brian Wilson and Nat King Cole, PJP produced a week of profiles on musical talent from the famed Brill Building, culminating in a two-hour special entitled Hitmakers: The Teens Who Stole Pop Music.
Jones wrote and directed a two-hour Biography special on Judy Garland that won a 1997 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Informational Series, the first for the network. His two-hour special Ozzie and Harriet: The Adventures of America’s Favorite Family became the highest-rated documentary in the network’s history, earning a 1999 Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Nonfiction Series. In 2001, his film American Masters: Goldwyn premiered on PBS. In 2002, he received the Producer of the Year Award from the Producers Guild of America for Biography.
In 2003, Jones produced and directed Sunset Junction, a feature-length vérité documentary about a Beverly Hills hairdresser who becomes an unlikely father figure to gang members and the neglected children of illegal immigrants.
In 2006, Stardust: The Bette Davis Story had its U.S. premiere on Turner Classic Movies, garnering Jones and his team the best reviews in the company’s history, an Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for Nonfiction Programming and an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Nonfiction Special.
In 2009, Inventing LA: The Chandlers and Their Times, a documentary on the single-family reign of four publishers of the Los Angeles Times newspaper, premiered as a national primetime special on PBS, a first for a documentary on Los Angeles. The film received the prestigious Peabody Award, America’s highest honor in electronic media.
Director, Editor and Producer
A native Texan, Mark Catalena graduated summa cum laude from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Radio/Television/Film (1994). After receiving his Master of Fine Arts Degree in Film Editing (1997) from the American Film Institute, where he cut a Student Academy Award-winning short film, My Body, he worked as a freelance editor at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and The Learning Channel.
Catalena joined Peter Jones Productions in 1997 and has edited 25 films for the Emmy Award-winning A&E series, Biography, including six, two-hour specials on such icons as Charlie Chaplin, Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, Brian Wilson, and Dr. Seuss. In addition to editing, he co-directed American Masters: Goldwyn and directed the two-hour Biography special on the life and career of artist Georgia O’Keeffe, which included an unprecedented collection of 110 works. He then co-directed and edited the vérité documentary Sunset Junction and the authoritative character study Stardust: The Bette Davis Story for TCM.
Still responsible for his usual roles, the sweeping American saga Inventing LA: The Chandlers and Their Times also marked Catalena’s debut as a director of photography. His longtime creative partnership with Jones yielded what Variety called “a definitive look at the paper and the Chandler family with an encyclopedic gravitas… so rich, complex and contentious.”
Further evidence of Mark’s strength as a graphic artist and designer can be found in all of the company’s printed materials as well as the Peter Jones Productions website.
Brian Tessier joined Peter Jones Productions in 1998 after graduating from UCLA with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. As an Associate Producer, his credits include Biography episodes on Ann Miller, Spencer Tracy, Glen Campbell, Roman Polanksi, and Dionne Warwick.
Known for his ability to unearth previously undiscovered material and manage tight production schedules and budgets, Tessier became a producer of profiles on Marvin Gaye, Neil Sedaka, Peter Fonda, and Eva Braun, and a Biography special on Las Vegas. In 2003, he produced and co-wrote the two-hour A&E Biography special on the life and career of Dr. Seuss.
Tessier took on the role of supervising producer for Stardust: The Bette Davis Story, for which he received a 2006 Primetime Emmy nomination and praise from critic Tom Shales, who called the film “one of the most personal, intimate and shocking biographical documentaries ever made on a movie star.” For Inventing LA: The Chandlers and Their Times, Tessier amassed a striking collection of archival material that Variety hailed as “absolute aces.”
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 180 documentary films about our country’s artistic and cultural giants, those who have made an indelible impact on the American landscape. Now celebrating its 26th 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 films LENNONYC, a film exploring John Lennon’s life in New York City, No Direction Home: Bob Dylan and 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 is currently producing, writing and directing a film about David Geffen.
Under her leadership, American Masters received the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Nonfiction Series in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2008, 2009, and 2011 as well as 15 other Primetime Emmy Awards – 5 for Outstanding Nonfiction Specials and the other 10 in various craft categories. The series received the 2012 Producers Guild of America (PGA) Award for Outstanding Producer of Non-Fiction Television, in addition to 12 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, Jerome Robbins: Something to Dance About, LENNONYC, A Letter to Elia, and Charles & Ray Eames: The Architect and the Painter. American Masters also received Grammy Awards for Lou Reed: Rock and Roll Heart, No Direction Home: Bob Dylan and When You’re Strange: A Film About The Doors, 40 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 honored again in Washington, DC, in 2010 as the recipient of the Cine Golden Eagle Lifetime Achievement Award. She presently serves on the board of the Film Forum in New York City. She served on the board of governors of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for two terms and was a trustee of the Independent Documentary Association. Lacy is a member of the Directors Guild of America, the Writers Guild of America, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the Independent Features Project and New York Women in Film & Television.
Lacy holds 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.