American Masters – Janis: Little Girl Blue
Premieres nationwide Tuesday, May 3 at 8 p.m. on PBS (check local listings)
Director, Writer and Producer
Amy Berg is a critically acclaimed, Emmy Award-winning and Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker. She was nominated for an Academy Award and a DGA Award (Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary) for her documentary Deliver Us From Evil (2006). She went on to direct West of Memphis, a documentary about the failure of the justice system in the West Memphis Three case. She worked in collaboration with producers Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh. The film premiered to rave reviews at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, was BAFTA- nominated and won the WGA Documentary Screenplay Award. Sony Pictures Classics released the film in fall 2012.
Berg completed her first narrative feature, Every Secret Thing, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2014 and was released theatrically in May 2015. Her doc, Prophet’s Prey, which was made in association with Showtime and Imagine Entertainment, was released fall 2015. She is currently in production on several films at her company Disarming Films, and premiered American Masters – Janis: Little Girl Blue at the Venice and Toronto Film Festivals in September. Disarming Films writes and produces long-form documentaries focusing on social justice.
Chan Marshall (also known as Cat Power)
Cat Power is a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist whose music fuses folk, country and blues, as heard on albums like Moon Pix and The Greatest.
Born on January 21, 1972, in Atlanta, Georgia, Cat Power was part of the indie scene of her home city and New York before releasing her debut Dear Sir. With work that has an acoustic feel, she’s released several lauded albums over the years, including You Are Free and The Greatest, while also struggling publicly with alcoholism and depression. She released the empowering, electronic Sun in 2012.
Power’s smoky, subterranean vocals and fusion of sounds—her music blends folk, country, blues, punk and avant-garde pop—have earned her a devoted following.
Alex Gibney has been called “the most important documentarian of our time” by Esquire magazine and “one of America’s most successful and prolific documentary filmmakers” by The New York Times’ T magazine.
Gibney’s signature cinematic style lends itself to his penetrating, gripping and deeply insightful documentaries, which have been the recipients of the Academy Award®, multiple Emmy Awards, the Grammy Award, several Peabody Awards, the DuPont-Columbia Award, The Independent Spirit Award, and The Writers Guild Award. In 2013, Gibney was honored with the International Documentary Association’s (IDA) Career Achievement Award.
Gibney’s recent films include: the controversial Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, which opened in theaters in March 2015, and premiered on HBO, becoming the most watched HBO documentary in a decade; Sinatra: All or Nothing At All, a two-part special on the life, music and career of legendary entertainer Frank Sinatra, which premiered on HBO in April 2015; and Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, an evocative portrait of the life and work of Steve Jobs that re-examines his legacy and our relationship with the computer, which made its world premiere at SXSW in March 2015 and was selected as the opening film for the 58th San Francisco International Film Festival in April 2015. The film made its theatrical debut in September 2015.
Highlights from his career include the Oscar-winning Taxi to the Dark Side, a film that examines torture at a U.S. military base in Afghanistan, which exposed and sparked discussion about the Bush administration’s worldwide policy of detention and torture; an Academy Award® nomination for Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, a film that chronicles one of the greatest corporate scandals in American history; the multiple Emmy Award-winning Mea Maxima Culpa, which exposes a sex abuse scandal in U.S. that winds its way all the way to the highest office of the Vatican; and Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream, a film that investigates growing economic inequality in the U.S., which ignited a huge media controversy as written about in Jane Mayer’s New Yorker article, “A Word From Our Sponsor.”
In 2015, Gibney was awarded a Peabody Award for Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown, a popular HBO documentary which chronicles the musical ascension of the “hardest working man in show business.” Gibney took home three Emmy Awards in 2013 for Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, an Emmy in 2013 for Showtime’s The History of The Eagles, and a Peabody Award in 2012 for Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream, which was part of a series produced by the BBC and PBS.
His Sony documentary about Lance Armstrong’s spectacular fall from grace, The Armstrong Lie, was short-listed for the 2014 Academy Award®. It was also nominated for the 2014 BAFTA Award, along with his Universal film We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks.
Additional projects from Gibney’s extraordinary career include Finding Fela, the story of Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s life, his music, his social and political importance; My Trip to Al-Qaeda, based on the one-man play by Pulitzer-winning author Lawrence Wright, which marked the first of many collaborations with Wright, including one currently in the works; Casino Jack and the United States of Money, detailing the lies, greed and corruption surrounding D.C. super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff; Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer, a close examination of the rapid rise and dramatic fall of New York Governor Eliot Spitzer; The Last Gladiators, a look at the National Hockey League’s most feared enforcers; Magic Trip: Ken Kesey’s Search for a Kool Place, a time travel immersion experience about the famous 1964 bus trip taken by Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters; and Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. Gibney also directed the Sports-Emmy-nominated Catching Hell and Ceasefire Massacre for ESPN’s “30 for 30” summer screen series, and executive produced Academy Award®-nominated No End In Sight.
Recently, Gibney’s Jigsaw Productions has expanded into television series with its first project Death Row Stories, executive produced by Gibney and Robert Redford for CNN. Exploring a different capital murder case each episode, Death Row Stories quickly became a popular CNN Original Series with season two premiering in July 2015. The company also produced Edge of Eighteen, a groundbreaking series for Al Jazeera America, where Jigsaw mentored high school seniors as they filmed their lives on the brink of adulthood.
Currently, Jigsaw is in production on three new series: The New Yorker Presents, an Amazon series which brings to life the award-winning The New Yorker by animating a variety of mediums found in the magazine – documentary shorts, fiction stories, comics, performance poetry – with the help of talent such as Alan Cumming, Jonathan Demme, Marina Abramović and others (all featured in the pilot episode). Additional projects in production include a four-part docu-series for Netflix and a new docu-noir series for A&E.
Gibney is represented by UTA and Chelsea Pictures.
Musician and composer Joel Shearer has worn various hats in the music industry over the past 25 years. While recording his band’s debut album in the mid-90’s, Shearer stumbled into the session world by being invited to play guitar on Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill. It was a turning point for Shearer’s career as he went onto to record and tour with the likes of Morissette, Dido, Annie Lennox, Joe Cocker, Damien Rice, Michael Buble, Sarah McLachlan and A.R. Rahman, to name a few. The latter offered Shearer the opportunity to collaborate with Rahman on the score for the Academy Award-nominated 127 Hours. Shearer continues down the composing path by scoring television commercials as well as documentaries. You can check out his various projects and collaborations here at: www.joelshearer.com
Executive Producer; Creator of American Masters
In 2013, Susan Lacy began a new chapter in her long and celebrated documentary filmmaking career. After over thirty years as Executive Producer of the acclaimed American Masters series (which she created in 1983 and launched on PBS in 1986), Susan decided to form her own company, Pentimento Productions.
Now, Susan is focused solely on directing and producing. Her first film with Pentimento is already underway – set to premiere on HBO in 2016. It’s the first project in Pentimento’s exclusive multi-picture deal with HBO.
Susan’s previous films were all part of the American Masters collection. Most recently she directed and produced Inventing David Geffen, earning the series the 2013 Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series as the representative episode. She wrote, produced, and directed Judy Garland: By Myself (Emmy award for writing, Emmy nomination for directing, representative episode for the series’ Primetime Emmy win in 2004 for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series), Joni Mitchell: Woman of Heart and Mind (IDA nomination for Outstanding Documentary), Leonard Bernstein: Reaching for the Note (DGA nomination, representative episode for the series’ Primetime Emmy win in 1999 for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series), Rod Serling: Submitted for Your Approval, and Lena Horne: In Her Own Voice. She produced the Peabody award-winning films Paul Simon: Born at the Right Time, LennoNYC, and No Direction Home: Bob Dylan — all American Masters films.
As the Series Creator and Executive Producer of American Masters, Susan was responsible for the production and national broadcast of 214 documentary films about our country’s artistic and cultural giants — those who have made an indelible impact on the American landscape. Since 1986, American Masters garnered unprecedented awards and was consistently recognized by television critics as “the best biographical series ever to appear on American television.”
Susan earned the series 71 Emmy nominations and 28 wins, including a remarkable 10 for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series. 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 Kazan, and Charles & Ray Eames: The Architect and the Painter, she received Grammy Awards for Lou Reed: Rock and Roll Heart and No Direction Home: Bob Dylan, an Academy Award and four nominations.
Susan’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 American Playhouse, where she was a founding member. Susan 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. Susan also led programs at both the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Susan 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 received a Pioneer Award from the Full Frame Festival. She has served on the board of governors of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and the Film Forum, and was a trustee of the Independent Documentary Association. Susan is a member of the Directors Guild of America, the Writers Guild of America, and New York Women in Film & Television.
Susan 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.
American Masters Series Executive Producer
For more than two decades, award-winning filmmaker Michael Kantor has created outstanding arts programs for television. He joined American Masters as the series’ executive producer April 2014.
His most recent PBS documentary series, Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle, hosted by Liev Schreiber, premiered in fall 2013 and was nominated for an Emmy Award. Random House published the companion book. In January 2013, Kantor’s Peabody Award-winning film, Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy, aired as part of the Great Performances series on PBS. Narrated by Joel Grey, it included performances by Matthew Broderick, Kelli O’Hara, David Hyde Pierce, Marc Shaiman and many other Broadway talents. In 2012, Kantor produced The Thomashefskys: Music and Memories of a Life in the Yiddish Theater with Michael Tilson Thomas, which aired on PBS and was nominated for a Primetime Emmy. Kantor served as executive producer of the special Give Me the Banjo, hosted by Steve Martin, and created Make ’Em Laugh: The Funny Business of America, the critically acclaimed six-part documentary series hosted by Billy Crystal, which debuted in January 2009. His script for episode four, When I’m Bad, I’m Better: The Groundbreakers, co-authored with Laurence Maslon, was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award. His landmark six-part series Broadway: The American Musical was hosted by Julie Andrews and honored with the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Nonfiction Series in 2005. That same year, he created three hours of DVD extras for 20th Century Fox’s 40th anniversary release of The Sound of Music.
Kantor wrote, directed and produced the award-winning profile American Masters: Quincy Jones: In the Pocket. With Stephen Ives, he co-directed Cornerstone: An Interstate Adventure for HBO, and produced The West (executive producer Ken Burns). His 20 years of work in documentaries include projects as varied as EGG: the arts show, Coney Island, The Donner Party, Margaret Sanger and Ric Burns’ New York series. As a writer, Kantor created Lullaby of Broadway: Opening Night on 42nd Street, co-authored the companion books to Broadway (Bulfinch) and Make ’Em Laugh (Grand Central Publishing) and has published numerous essays and articles. He is president of Almo Inc., a company that distributes The American Film Theatre series, which includes Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance (starring Katharine Hepburn), Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh (Lee Marvin) and Chekhov’s Three Sisters (Laurence Olivier) among its titles. Kantor has served as a Tony nominator and taught documentary filmmaking at the School for Visual Arts in New York City.
Stacey Offman joined Jigsaw in 2012 and works as SVP of Production and Development, alongside Jigsaw founder Alex Gibney, to oversee and develop a dynamic slate of documentaries (Mea Maxima Culpa, Mr. Dynamite, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief) and fiction and non-fiction episodic television (Death Row Stories for CNN, and The New Yorker Presents for Amazon). With nearly 20 years in the business, Offman has worked across both film and TV, producing numerous high profile documentaries and non-fiction series across major networks: IFC, Comedy Central, FX, History, OLN, Alliance Atlantis, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Prior to joining Jigsaw, Offman was Morgan Spurlock’s producing partner (Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden, What Would Jesus Buy? and 30 Days for FX). She previously served as supervising producer for Emmy-nominated Borderline TV and Head of Production & Development at Academy Award®- nominated Paperny Entertainment.
Katherine LeBlond is a producer with an artistic aesthetic, having originally started in the business as a set decorator. A native of the Northwest, she has lived in Los Angeles for over 10 years. She has worked with a broad list of award-winning and talented directors and producers, including Tony and Ridley Scott, Paul Reiser and Barbara Hall. LeBlond currently has several other projects in production with Disarming Films.
“This company develops, preserves, extends and enhances artist legacies,” says Jeff Jampol, president of Jampol Artist Management, Inc. (JAM, Inc.). “We’re dealing with very important art, creation, and artists, and our job is to maintain, build, market, promote and oversee these artists’ legacies or, if you will, their brands. However, we are very careful and judicious in employing the terms ‘brand’ and ‘branding,’ as a lot of damage can be done in the name of commerce, and applying business terms to art can often sully art’s purity. On the other hand, when you bring that pure art to the marketplace, branding is a fundamental part of the mix, and when that foundation, or ‘brand,’ is a legacy beloved by generations of fans, you have to be extremely thoughtful about every single move you make. These iconic artists embody fundamental worldwide significance, not just musically and artistically, but also culturally, politically, socially and historically.”
As the founder and head of JAM, Inc., which manages rock legends The Doors, Ramones, and the Estates of Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Tupac Shakur, Otis Redding, Peter Tosh and Rick James, Jampol has had ample opportunity to consider such issues. Indeed, he and his team are fond of citing the “Hippocratic Oath of Rock” as a guiding principle: First, do no harm to the artist’s legacy. But Jampol doesn’t view himself merely as a curator of classic catalogues. “The goal is to extend the reach of the artist and their work, using new distribution channels, new technology and other emerging resources, to place timeless art into a modern context.”
To that end, Jampol produced, with Dick Wolf, the 2009 Doors theatrical documentary film, When You’re Strange, narrated by Johnny Depp, for which Jampol and Wolf won the 2011 Grammy® Award, and were nominated for a 2010 Emmy® Award. Jampol also produced the hit Broadway Janis Joplin musical, A Night With Janis Joplin. Jampol has produced several other musical and theatrical works, overseen deluxe reissues of classic albums; overseen large-format art books (The Doors by The Doors and Jim Morrison: Treasures); enlisted cutting edge artists like Shepard Fairey (Obey Giant, the Obama “Hope” poster) to create new graphics; authorized remixes and new song creations by top EDM artists; vigorously pursued film, TV and game placements targeting young audiences; rebooted merchandising initiatives; developed content-rich web destinations designed to serve longtime fans and new seekers simultaneously; and considerably more.
Jampol began his music career as a DJ and Public Affairs Director at a college-radio station (as a supplement to his “official” coursework in media studies and communications) and moved into artist management, production and “DIY” marketing, managing and producing several key bands in San Francisco’s emerging punk scene.
After college, he served as a consultant for high-end audio firms and landed a radio-promotion post for CBS Records; this led to work as a promotion executive for Atlantic Records in San Francisco. Jampol’s background served him well in the ensuing years; moving back to his hometown of Los Angeles, he continued to work as a manager, marketer and consultant to entertainment companies and also became a partner in a chain of Los Angeles-area community newspapers. His production company, Polymedia, meanwhile, was the first to sign creative wizards David Was and Don Was as producers, and Jampol became a voting member of The Recording Academy® in 1985; he later sat on the Board Of Governors of NARAS’® Los Angeles chapter from 2007-09. Jampol was also eager to share what he’d learned about the entertainment industry, and 2015 marks his 17th year as part of UCLA’s entertainment-industry curriculum. As a professor at UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music, he currently teaches “The Music Business NOW,” which is a required course for the Mo Ostin music industry minor. He has also served as a panelist, moderator and featured speaker on artist management, deal negotiation, digital media strategy and entertainment marketing for The Darden School Of Business at the University Of Virginia, Marshall School Of Business at USC, California Lawyers for the Arts, South By Southwest Music Conference, NARAS®, The Learning Annex, Los Angeles Songwriter’s Academy, Nashville Music Conference, BMI, MusExpo, Web Summit and Loyola Marymount University, along with other institutions and conferences.
In addition to his management, consulting and teaching work, Jampol is an active counselor, speaker and volunteer in the drug and alcohol treatment and recovery field. He’s also an avid bodysurfer, boating enthusiast, racing sailor and hardcore audiophile. His website can be found at: www.wemanagelegends.com.