From WPBT-Channel 2:
Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook returns to PBS for a star-studded, three-part third season premiering April 5, 2013. This time America’s most passionate music preservationist explores the enduring popularity of Broadway show tunes, the pas de deux between music and choreography, and the indelible impact radio in its heyday had on the American musical canon. Again the biggest stars in music (and dance, too) journey with him. Offering an intimate look at the performer on stage, behind the scenes, and on the road, Michael Feinstein's American Songbook airs as part of PBS ARTS on Friday nights.
Episode 1 of Season 3: Show Tunes
Stars in the Broadway universe don’t shine much brighter than Stephen Sondheim, Angela Lansbury and Christine Ebersole, all of whom appear in this episode about great American musicals. Sondheim reveals the composers he most admires and shows Feinstein some rare home movie footage of the original Broadway production of the classic Follies. Tony Award-winner Ebersole gives a tour de force performance of a showstopper from the stage musical Funny Girl, and Lansbury reflects on her Broadway career, from Mame to Sweeney Todd and Gypsy. (Michael also has a surprise for Angela.) Feinstein discusses his personal relationship with the lyricist Ira Gershwin and performs the classics “Lullaby of Broadway,” “Let Me Entertain You” and “No One Is Alone.”
Episode 2 of Season 3:
Fred Astaire is Michael Feinstein’s favorite singer—but he also was the favorite singer of Irving Berlin, Cole Porter and the Gershwins. Why was this dancer, first-and-foremost, so beloved by the America’s great composers? With that question Feinstein launches into an exploration of the marriage between music and choreography, unearthing rare home movies of Astaire rehearsing on set, and some remarkable memorabilia from that other screen-dance icon, Gene Kelly. Kelly stuns in never-before-seen footage of his Broadway debut in the original Pal Joey. Liza Minnelli struts her stuff in two rare vintage clips—including a duet with Gene Kelly. Feinstein indulges his inner Astaire with private dance lessons, explores the endless popularity of ballroom dance in America and performs the classics “Change Partners”, “Singin’ in the Rain,” “Shall We Dance” and “Let’s Face the Music and Dance.”
Episode 3 of Season 3: On the Air
Today, “American Idol” is the country’s biggest music star-maker, but decades ago, the Golden Age of Radio fulfilled the idol-making role in the U.S. Feinstein traces the phenomenon with archival clips of Bing Crosby, Cab Calloway, Kate Smith and many others. He visits with TV and stage star Rose Marie (best known as “Sally Rogers” on “The Dick Van Dyke Show”) and learns about her career as a highly paid child radio star named “Baby” Rose Marie. On his own NPR program, Feinstein showcases the virtuoso talents of classical superstars, including violinist Joshua Bell and pianist Jeremy Denk. Finally, he discovers a lost radio program that featured Rosemary Clooney, and recalls his own memorable duet with her.
by Amber Edwards