American Masters (2016 Season) — Janis: Little Girl Blue

TCA Bios

Air date: 05/03/2016

American Masters – Janis: Little Girl Blue

Premieres nationwide Tuesday, May 3 at 8 p.m. on PBS (check local listings)


TCA Biographies


Amy Berg

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.


Dave Getz

Film Interviewee

Dave Getz is best known as the drummer and one of the original members of Big Brother and the Holding Company, the band that launched the career of Janis Joplin.

Getz was born in 1940 and grew up in Brooklyn in a working-class, Jewish-American family. Starting in his early teens, he showed exceptional abilities in both music and art. At the age of 15, he was playing the drums professionally in numerous bands and was a member of the N.Y. Musicians Union, local 802. Getz graduated from The Cooper Union Art School in 1960, but during the time he was an art student, he also toured Europe with the Dixieland jazz group Rick Lundy and The Saints.

After Cooper Union, Getz went to San Francisco to study painting at the San Francisco Art Institute, where he received an M.F.A. in 1964. In 1964, he received a Fulbright Fellowship in painting and lived for one year in Krakow, Poland, where he painted and also played drums in numerous jazz groups.

Getz returned to San Francisco in 1965 and was hired by the San Francisco Art institute to teach painting. In March 1966, he met Peter Albin, who a few months earlier had started the band Big Brother and the Holding Company. Getz joined the band, which was just a quartet: Albin on bass, Getz on drums and James Gurley and Sam Andrew on guitars. They were already one of the leading new psychedelic bands, playing events like the Trips Festival and other dance-concerts in San Francisco.

In June 1966, their manager Chet Helms brought his friend, a singer from Texas named Janis Joplin, to join the band. Getz played, toured and recorded with Joplin and Big Brother until the end of 1968 when Joplin left the band.

From 1969 to the present, Getz has lived in New England, Los Angeles and Marin County, and continued working as a drummer with Big Brother and the Holding Company, Country Joe McDonald and dozens of other bands and individual artists.

Since 1979, he has been active as a visual artist, musician and teacher. His art has been shown in galleries and museums nationally and in Europe.

In 2010, he released a CD featuring his own musical compositions. The title song “Can’t Be the Only One” was a song Joplin had written lyrics for but never been recorded.

Getz lives in Fairfax, CA, with his wife, singer and actress Joan Payne Getz. He has two daughters: Alzara Getz, a singer/songwriter (Alzara and Brother Spellbinder) living in San Francisco, and Elizabeth (a.k.a. Dezi Paige), a singer and songwriter (“Tall Tails”) living in Los Angeles.


Laura Joplin

Film Interviewee

Laura Joplin is Janis Joplin’s younger sister by six years. Both girls took after their parents in their love of reading. While Janis ventured into music and performing, Laura focused on higher education, earning a Master’s in psychology and a Ph.D. in education. She has conducted college faculty training programs and developed curriculum materials in experiential education. When her daughter was born, Laura began work on a biography of her sister, which was published in 1992 and later inspired the play by the same name, Love, Janis. Laura has continued working to share her sister’s legacy since that time.


Michael Kantor

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, that 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.