PIONEERS OF TELEVISION

Standup comedians who landed sitcoms, TV doctors and nurses, standout comedy actors, Jerry Seinfieldand the people who broke the color barrier on television, are the subjects explored when Pioneers of Television, offering inside stories from some of America’s most beloved television stars.

The Emmy-nominated series reveals intriguing behind-the-scenes stories and fascinating facts about television’s most well-known and influential celebrities.

Interviews with legendary stars, including Robin Williams, Roseanne Barr and Dick Van Dyke, and never-before-seen Dick Van Dykeimages mix with timeless footage that continues to entertain TV viewers decades later. Pioneers of Television’s first-hand look at the medium is guided by the stories of television icons who appear in memorable footage and reminisce about the iconic genres they helped popularize.

“We are thrilled to bring another season of Pioneers of Television to PBS,” said executive producer Steve Boettcher, who, along with producing partner Mike Trinklein, has helmed numerous specials and series on television’s breakthrough performers. “From stars that had Americans howling with laughter in front of their television screens, to the ones who broke barriers – and maybe even some who saved lives – this season’s line-up features legends who paved the way for contemporary television.”

The genres highlighted in this season of one-hour Pioneers of Television episodes include:


STANDUP TO SITCOM

pioneers of tv romanoThis star-packed episode features fresh interviews with Jerry Seinfeld, Roseanne Barr, Tim Allen, Ray Romano and Bob Newhart. The program reveals how America’s top standup comics made the transition to the sitcom format and includes dozens of clips from “Seinfeld,” “Home Improvement,” “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Roseanne” and more.


DOCTORS AND NURSES

george clooney

From George Clooney on “ER” to Richard Chamberlain on “Dr. Kildare,” television’s long love affair with doctors and nurses shows no signs of letting up. Noah Wyle, Anthony Edwards, Gloria Reuben and Eriq LaSalle open up about the secrets of “ER”; Howie Mandel, Ed Begley Jr. and Christina Pickles revisit “St. Elsewhere.” The episode also features the final interview with Chad Everett of “Medical Center” before his recent death.


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July 18

BREAKING BARRIERS

pt takeiThis episode traces the story of people of color on American television — including the mid-1960s breakthroughs of African Americans Diahann Carroll (“Julia”) and Bill Cosby (“I Spy”). Latino landmarks range from “I Love Lucy” with Desi Arnaz to “Miami Vice” with Edward James Olmos. Also featured are Asian-Americans like George Takei (“Star Trek”), who details his youth spent in a Japanese internment camp.

ACTING FUNNY

pt leachmanThis episode peeks behind the curtain to reveal the backstage techniques of America’s favorite comedic actors. The program features the manic improvisational style of Robin Williams, along with his comic predecessor Jonathan Winters. They’re a fascinating contrast to Tina Fey, who explains her measured, highly prepared approach. The episode also highlights the all-time #1 Emmy winner for comedy acting: Cloris Leachman.