Special encore presentation Friday, October 9, 2020 at 9 p.m. (check local listings) on PBS, pbs.org/americanmasters and the PBS Video app in honor of what would have been John Lennon’s 80th birthday and the 40th anniversary of his death.
Original November 2010 broadcast press release below:
THIRTEEN’s American Masters premieres LENNONYC on PBS November 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.
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.
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 Dead, Religion & 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.