American Masters Turns up the Volume on the Life and Legacy of a Jazz Music Legend with Never Too Late: The Doc Severinsen Story, Premiering April 2 on PBS
Features new conversations with Doc Severinsen as well as original interviews with Questlove, Chris Botti, Arturo Sandoval, Bob Saget and Martin Mull
After more than 30 years as the colorful bandleader of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, master trumpeter Doc Severinsen continues to defy nature well into his 90s with a grueling schedule of touring, performing and teaching. An engaging new documentary, American Masters – Never Too Late: The Doc Severinsen Story, traces the life and groundbreaking career of the unstoppable musical icon, revealing his personal trials and underscoring a remarkable journey of inspiration and obsession. American Masters – Never Too Late: The Doc Severinsen Story premieres nationwide Friday, April 2 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/americanmasters and the PBS Video app.
The film features original interviews with friends, colleagues and famous fans inspired by the music icon, including Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon bandleader Questlove, master trumpeters Chris Botti and Arturo Sandoval and comedians Bob Saget and Martin Mull, as well as intimate conversations with the irreverent, irrepressible Severinsen and his family members. Archival and vibrant new concert footage along with hilarious clips from The Tonight Show showcase Severinsen’s unparalleled musical virtuosity and comedic flair.
The son of a dentist, Carl H “Little Doc” Severinsen was born in 1927 in rural Oregon and quickly became obsessed with the trumpet, wining the Music Educator’s National Contest at the age of 12. The film traces the musician’s childhood, early marriages and fledgling career in big band, leading to his incredible, decades-long tenure on The Tonight Show where he became beloved by millions of American viewers for his unforgettably flashy wardrobe, fearless leadership of the band and camaraderie with host Johnny Carson.
In 1992, when Carson retired from The Tonight Show, Severinsen moved to Mexico with his third wife. However, the band leader couldn’t give up performing; he even formed a new band, The San Miguel Five. The nonstop touring ultimately ended his marriage. Severinsen shares a glimpse into his new life with trumpet player Cathy Leach, someone who loves the trumpet as much as he does and understands his passion to play.
Now in its 35th season on PBS, American Masters illuminates the lives and creative journeys of our nation’s most enduring artistic giants — those who have left an indelible impression on our cultural landscape. Setting the standard for documentary film profiles, the series has earned widespread critical acclaim and 28 Emmy Awards — including 10 for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series and five for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special — 14 Peabodys, an Oscar, three Grammys, two Producers Guild Awards and many other honors. To further explore the lives and works of more than 250 masters past and present, the American Masters website offers streaming video of select films, outtakes, filmmaker interviews, the American Masters Podcast, educational resources and more. The series is a production of THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET.
American Masters – Never Too Late: The Doc Severinsen Story is a production of Just Bright Productions in association with American Masters Pictures. Kevin S. Bright and Jeff Consiglio are directors. Kevin S. Bright is executive producer. Ariana Garfinkel and Jeff Consiglio are producers, Nancy Severinsen is co-producer, and Brad Allgood is editor. Michael Kantor is executive producer of American Masters.
Major funding for American Masters – Never Too Late: The Doc Severinsen Story is provided by National Endowment for the Arts.
Support for American Masters is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, AARP, The Cheryl & Philip Milstein family, Judith & Burton Resnick, Seton Melvin Charitable Trust, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, The Ambrose Monell Foundation, Vital Projects Fund, Lillian Goldman Programming Endowment, Philip & Janice Levin Foundation, Ellen & James S. Marcus, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, and public television viewers.
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