American Masters: LENNONYC (PBS)
A former Beatle born and raised in England might seem unqualified for an American Masters profile, but LENNONYC justifies the choice. Michael Epstein’s documentary quickly establishes John Lennon as an eager, if unconventional, immigrant who in 1971 chose to take up residence in New York City, America’s quintessential port of entry, for classic reasons: He was yearning to be free; free of a British press hounding and insulting him and his artist wife, Yoko Ono, in the wake of his group’s break-up; free to re-invent himself. It wasn’t easy. LENNONYC doesn’t shy away from the demons Lennon had to exorcise, his self-destructive binges or the blunderbuss political activities that preceded his embrace of domesticity and the beautiful music of “Double Fantasy,” the album he and Ono finished shortly before he was murdered in 1980. It’s an unusually rich and thorough portrait of a complicated artist, with candid interviews with Ono and musician friends, charming home-movie clips with their son, Sean, excerpts from TV talk-show appearances and archival film of the sessions for recordings such as “Mind Games” and “Rock ‘N’ Roll,” his oldies album produced by Phil Spector. For illuminating the turbulent, triumphant, ultimately tragic American life of a legendary artist and pop star, a Peabody Award goes to American Masters: LENNONYC.
Executive producers: Stanley Buchthal, Michael Cohl, Susan Lacy. Producers: Susan Lacy, Jessica Levin, Michael Epstein. Director and writer: Michael Epstein. Editors: Ed Barteski, Deborah Peretz. Director of photography: Michael Chin. Web designer: Colin Fitzpatrick.
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