American Masters (2012 Season) – Harper Lee: Hey, Boo

Film Synopsis & Interviewees

Air date: 09/18/2018

One of the biggest bestsellers of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) is the first and only novel by a young woman named Nelle Harper Lee, who once said that she wanted to be South Alabama’s Jane Austen. Lee won the Pulitzer Prize and became a mystery when she stopped speaking to press in 1964. Harper Lee: Hey, Boo explores the history and impact of the novel and offers an unprecedented look at the life of the novelist.

More than 50 years after its publication, To Kill a Mockingbird has been translated into more than 40 languages worldwide, still sells nearly one million copies each year and is required reading in most American classrooms, making it quite possibly the most influential American novel of the 20th century. The 1962 film version, starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, won a trio of Academy Awards.

Harper Lee: Hey, Boo chronicles how this beloved novel came to be written, provides the context and history of the Deep South where it is set, and documents the many ways the novel has changed minds and shaped history. For teachers, students or fans of the classic, Hey, Boo enhances the experience of reading To Kill a Mockingbird.

Containing never-before-seen photos and letters, Hey, Boo features insightful interviews with friends and an exclusive interview with Lee’s sister, Alice Finch Lee (age 99 at filming), who share intimate recollections, anecdotes and biographical details for the first time, offering new insight into the life and mind of Harper Lee, including why she never published again. Oprah Winfrey; Tom Brokaw; Pulitzer Prize-winners Rick Bragg, Anna Quindlen, Richard Russo, Jon Meacham, and Diane McWhorter; and civil rights leader Andrew Young address the novel’s power, influence, and popularity, and the many ways it has shaped their lives.

Interviewees (in alphabetical order)

Mary Badham – actress, played Scout Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

Boaty Boatwright – casting director, (1962)

Rick Bragg – author

Tom Brokaw – news anchor, journalist and author

Joy Brown – Lee’s friend

Michael Brown – Lee’s friend

Reverend Thomas Lane Butts – Pastor Emeritus of Lee’s church

Rosanne Cash – musician and author

Mark Childress – author

Jane Ellen Clark – former director, The Monroe County Heritage Museum

Allan Gurganus – author

David Kipen – former director of literature, National Endowment for the Arts

Wally Lamb – author

Alice Finch Lee – Lee’s sister

James McBride – author and musician

Diane McWhorter – historian

Jon Meacham – historian

James Patterson – author

Anna Quindlen – author

Richard Russo – author

Lizzie Skurnick – author

Lee Smith – author

Adriana Trigiani – author

Mary Tucker – educator and Monroeville, Alabama resident

Scott Turow – author

Oprah Winfrey – TV and film producer, founder of O, The Oprah magazine, radio programmer, actress, philanthropist, and chairman of Harpo Inc.

Andrew Young – civil rights leader