American Masters – Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future

Production Bios

Air date: 12/27/2016

American Masters – Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future

Premieres nationwide Tuesday, December 27 at 8 p.m. on PBS

(check local listings)

Production Bios

Peter Rosen

Producer and Director

Peter Rosen has produced and directed over 100 full-length films and television programs which have been distributed worldwide and have won awards at all the major film festivals. He has worked directly with some of the most important figures in the arts such as Leonard Bernstein, Yo-Yo Ma, Beverly Sills, Sherrill Milnes, Stephen Sondheim, Alexander Godunov, Midori, Martha Graham, Plácido Domingo, Van Cliburn, Claudio Arrau, Byron Janis, I. M. Pei, Nobuyuki Tsujii, and Garrison Keillor.

He won the prestigious Directors Guild of America (DGA) Award in 1990 for his production Here to Make Music: The Eighth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. The show also won a Primetime Emmy Award in 1990, and was called “enriching and inspiring” by New York Daily News. He was again nominated for the DGA Award in 1998 for his film, First Person Singular: I. M. Pei. The Cliburn: Playing on the Edge, with KERA/PBS, sponsored by ExxonMobil, won the prestigious Peabody Award in 2001.

Recent international primetime broadcasts of Rosen’s films include Touching the Sound on blind pianist Nobuyuki Tsujii; There Will Be Music on composer and oil man Gordon Getty; 50 Years of Gold, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Van Cliburn Piano Competition; American Masters – Jascha Heifetz: God’s Fiddler, which won the Echo Klassik Award, Japanese Record Academy Award, and the Audience Award at the San Diego Film Festival; A Surprise in Texas, on the 13th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, which won the Gramophone Magazine Award and Best Documentary at the Beverly Hills Film Festival, amongst other honors; The Byron Janis Story, on the pianist’s battle against crippling arthritis; American Masters — Garrison Keillor: The Man on the Radio in the Red Shoes; Shadows in Paradise, on Europe’s musical exiles who fled Hitler for Southern California; In the Key of G: The Gilmore International Keyboard Festival for PBS; Master of the House, a film broadcast on PBS as part of the Metropolitan Opera’s tribute to Joseph Volpe; A Workshop for Peace, an hour-long documentary commissioned by the United Nations on its 60th anniversary; Great Conversations in Music, commissioned by the Library of Congress; and Who Gets to Call it Art?, a feature-length documentary on curator Henry Geldzahler.

In the 2003-2004 television season, Rosen produced and directed the feature-length documentary Khachaturian about the Russian-Armenian composer on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his birth. Shown in theatres and on television worldwide, the film won the Best Documentary Award at the Hollywood Film Festival. Other films for PBS include The Hollywood Bowl: Music Under the Stars, a co-production with WDR German Television; A Thousand Years of Music and Spirit, taped in Krakow; and Once Upon a Sleigh Ride, a documentary on American composer Leroy Anderson.

Highlights of previous television seasons include Enrico Caruso: Voice of the Century and The Museum on the Mountain, on I. M. Pei’s new Miho Museum in Kyoto. This program won the Gold Medal at the 1998 New York Film and Television Festival. Midori Live at Carnegie Hall; If I Were A Rich Man, a portrait of Jan Peerce; and Playing for Peace, a 60-minute documentary about Middle East peace, which aired nationally on PBS. Rosen’s earlier productions include Carnegie Hall at 100: A Place of Dreams (PBS), Reflections: Leonard Bernstein (BBC) and Omnibus (ABC, 1986). In 1985, he produced and directed American Masters – Rubinstein Remembered and Toscanini: The Maestro (1988) for Great Performances, both of which were broadcast on PBS and internationally.

Rosen earned a B.Arch. from Cornell University and B.F.A. and M.F.A. from Yale University. He served at Yale University as a fellow at Trumbull College and an instructor in the art department. Rosen lives in New York City, where he was born and raised.


Eric Saarinen, ASC

Director of Photography and Co-producer

Eric Saarinen, ASC, is one of America’s most admired commercial directors and cinematographers. His work as a director of photography encompasses 15 theatrical features, including Albert Brooks’ Lost in America, The Hills Have Eyes, and Exploratorium, Oscar nominee for Best Documentary, Short Subject. His commercial work directing and shooting hundreds of television commercials garnered 13 Clios, six AICP Awards, two Gold Hugos, and virtually every major advertising award, including the Grand Prix at Cannes for the World’s Best Commercial of the Year for Jeep’s “Snowcovered” (1994) spot. This marked the first time an automobile commercial won the prestigious award and the spot was later voted one of the Top 10 Best Automotive Commercials in the past 25 years by the Art Directors Guild One Show.

Saarinen is the son of architect and designer Eero Saarinen. His mother, Lily Saarinen, was a sculptor, artist and educator. She was also a member of the first women’s Olympic Ski Team. His grandfather was the acclaimed Finnish architect and designer, Eliel Saarinen. Charles and Ray Eames were his godparents.

Saarinen’s early life was spent at the Cranbrook Art Institute (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.). Every day he was surrounded with the beauty and inspiration of this rarified world while his grandfather and father helped to create the campus, along with their collaborators and friends: the Eames, Harry Bertoia, Carl Milles, Florence Knoll, Harry Weese, Ralph Rapson, Marianne Strengell and many more. He earned his B.A. at Goddard College and M.A. in filmmaking at UCLA.

Saarinen started his career directing and producing films focused on art. Projects included those for the Museum of Modern Art, Gemini G.E.L. and Pepsi’s Expo ’70 Pavilion in Japan. Music videos were also a mainstay: Joni Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix, George Benson, Al Jarreau, the Bee Gees, Pat Metheny, Neil Young and Peter Tosh, to name a few.

An overarching theme to Saarinen’s life has been his love of the road less traveled. Drawn to the unexpected, the unfamiliar, and the unknown, he selects projects for the quotient of adventure they promised. Saarinen has an uncanny ability to pick a moment. His natural curiosity and yearning for the new landed him in the midst of some of the most significant historical events in modern American history: traveling with Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland in the midst of American political turmoil to U.S. barracks across Asia; the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago during the riots; filming the Altamont concert with the Rolling Stones for Gimme Shelter (1970); and documenting a frightened Robert Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel right before he was shot.

His remarkable adventures, and his powerful footage documenting them, continued. He spent three months on board Jacques Cousteau’s seaplane in the Sea of Cortez, and another three months living on the ocean floor with the Glomar Challenger deep sea drilling project. Saarinen’s early career culminated with the film Symbiosis for The Land pavilion at Epcot at the Walt Disney World Resort. Natural and ancient man-made wonders of the world were filmed in 70 mm, revealing the history of man’s relationship with the environment. The last time these lenses were used, and then carefully preserved, was for Lawrence of Arabia. Although only 16 minutes long, Saarinen circumnavigated the globe two-and-a-half times during the 13-month shoot. The film was seen by approximately 28 million people during its 13-year run.

After seeing the evocative piece and realizing what Saarinen’s vision could bring to the world of broadcast commercials, a friend proposed a new breed of commercial production company, and together they formed Plum Productions. During Plum’s successful 27-year run, Saarinen traveled the world as a director and cameraman and became one of the most highly-awarded advertising director/cinematographers with hundreds of television commercials to his credit.

Saarinen is a director/cameraman in the Directors Guild of America (DGA) and was the first director of photography ever to be inducted into the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) for “Extraordinary Achievement in the Field of Television Commercials.” He has also been inducted into the Finnish Society of Cinematographers (AFC).

He lives in Los Angeles, California.


Michael Kantor

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 in April 2014 during its 28th season on PBS, and founded its theatrical imprint American Masters Pictures in January 2016. American Masters Pictures was represented by three films at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival: Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You, Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise and Richard Linklater – dream is destiny.

Prior to joining American Masters, his PBS documentary series Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle (2013), hosted by Liev Schreiber, was nominated for an Emmy Award. Random House published the companion book. Kantor’s Peabody Award-winning film Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy (2013) 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 (2009), the critically acclaimed six-part documentary series hosted by Billy Crystal. 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 of Visual Arts in New York City. He was born in New Haven, Conn., and lives in Scarsdale, N.Y.