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Footage of Interviews with Broadway Legends Has Been Donated to the New York Library of Performing Arts

Broadway Film Project, Inc. and Thirteen/WNET New York, producers of the acclaimed PBS series Broadway: The American Musical, have donated more than 100 hours of exclusive interviews with dozens of Broadway legends to The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center.  The collection is a treasure trove of video footage and complete transcripts of first-hand accounts from 86 key figures in American musical theater history, including Al Hirschfeld, Carol Channing, Jerry Herman, Adolph Green, Frances Gershwin Godowsky, Arthur Laurents, Jerry Orbach, Joel Grey, Harold Prince, and two original Ziegfeld Follies showgirls, to name only a few. 

Broadway: The American Musical, which premiered in October 2004 and has been seen by more than 16 million viewers to date, is the most extensive history of the Broadway musical ever compiled for television.  Filmmaker Michael Kantor said that the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts was an unparalleled reference resource throughout the project.  Many of the images used in the series came from the vast riches of the library's Billy Rose Theatre Collection and its Theatre on Film and Tape Archive (TOFT), which has been filming and preserving performances and interviews by notable theatrical figures for 35 years. 

The six-hour broadcast version of Broadway: The American Musical could include only a fraction of the interview footage amassed during the 10 years it took to make the film.  Even the companion DVD, with five hours of bonus material, could accommodate only select portions of the interviews.  The archives to be housed at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts contain all 86 interviews in their entirety.  

Others featured in the collection are Idina Menzel, Harvey Fierstein, Julie Taymor, Stephen Sondheim, Betty Comden, June Havoc, Mel Brooks, Chita Rivera, Ben Vereen, Susan Stroman, John Kander, Jerome Chodorov, Nathan Lane, and many other performers, directors, producers, writers, choreographers, and scholars who made theater history.  Some of them, including lyricist Fred Ebb, book writer Peter Stone, and Ziegfeld Follies dancer Dana O'Connell, are no longer alive to tell their stories.

"If we're to continue learning from Broadway's greats and turning to them for inspiration, it's important to document their lives, in their own words, before it's too late to do so," stated Jac Venza, Thirteen's former director and executive producer of culture and arts programming.

Thirteen/WNET New York is one of the key program providers for public television, bringing such acclaimed series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, Charlie Rose, Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, Wide Angle, Stage on Screen, Secrets of the Dead, and Cyberchase – as well as the work of Bill Moyers – to audiences nationwide. For more information, visit www.thirteen.org

The Theatre on Film and Tape Archive at the New York Library of Performing Arts is the foremost collection of films and videotapes of live theatre, whose mission includes videotaping Broadway, Off-Broadway, and regional theatre productions, as well as collecting theatre-related items such as documentaries, television programs, films, interviews, lectures, and awards programs.  For more information, visit www.nypl.org/lpa.

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts is located at 40 Lincoln Center Plaza.


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