Emmy-award winning radio personality, television host and producer Ryan Seacrest narrates the third season of Pioneers of Television, PBS’ Emmy-nominated series that brings to life the stories of television’s most-beloved stars. The four-part series premieres Tuesday, Jan. 15 at 8/7 p.m. on KET2 and Monday, Jan. 21 at 10/9 p.m. on KET. The new season’s four episodes include “Funny Ladies,” “Primetime Soaps,” “Superheroes” and “Miniseries.”
This episode begins with the first standup comediennes to appear on television, including Joan Rivers and the late Phyllis Diller, whose final interview was for this episode. “Funny Ladies” also looks at Lucille Ball’s breakthrough on I Love Lucy and the sitcom stars that followed, including Mary Tyler Moore, Betty White and Marla Gibbs. Variety star Carol Burnett reveals the behind-the-scenes stories of her long-running show. The episode also includes interviews with contemporary actresses Tina Fey and Margaret Cho.
Dallas and Dynasty kicked off the nighttime soap frenzy in the late 1970s, a phenomenon that continued through the last season of Knots Landing in 1993. “Primetime Soaps” offers surprising new details about the legendary “Who Shot J.R.” episode of Dallas and reveals the backstage personalities that shaped Dynasty and Knots Landing. Interviewees in the episode include the late Larry Hagman, Joan Collins, Linda Evans, Diahann Carroll, Linda Gray, Patrick Duffy, Michele Lee, Joan Van Ark and Donna Mills.
“Superheroes” crosses many eras: Superman in the 1950s, Batman in the ’60s, Wonder Woman and The Incredible Hulk in the ’70s, and The Greatest American Hero in the ’80s. The episode features in-depth interviews with Adam West, Burt Ward, Julie Newmar, Lynda Carter, Lou Ferrigno, William Katt and others. It also includes comments from Robert Culp about his show The Greatest American Hero, recorded just days before he passed away.
Miniseries still rank among the top-rated programs in television history. Roots was the biggest, and interviewees commenting on that groundbreaking series include LeVar Burton, Louis Gossett Jr., Leslie Uggams, Ben Vereen, John Amos, Georg Stanford Brown and Ed Asner. This episode also considers the very first miniseries, Rich Man, Poor Man, as stars Peter Strauss and Susan Blakely offer fresh insights. All of the key stars from the landmark miniseries The Thorn Birds also provide commentary.
More information about KET programming and education services, as well as how to support KET, can be found at ket.org.