John Lennon tribute Lennonyc coming to American Masters

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This fall, as the world remembers John Lennon on what would have been his 70th birthday, and the 30th anniversary of his death, American Masters airs LENNONYC – John Lennon in New York, a new film that takes an intimate look at the time Lennon, Yoko Ono and their son, Sean, spent living in New York City during the 1970s. The film premieres on Monday, November 22, 2010 at 9pm on PBS.

Currently in its 24th season, American Masters is a production of Thirteen in association with wnet.org – one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers.

“New York became a part of who John and I were,” said Yoko. “We couldn’t have existed the same way anywhere else. We had a very special relationship with the city, which is why I continue to make this my home, and I think this film captures what that time was like for us very movingly.”

“I have long been moved by the honesty and directness of John’s music,” said Michael Epstein, LENNONYC director, producer and writer. “And, by using never-before heard studio talkback of John from this period, I think I was able to give the viewer a window into John Lennon that had not been put to film before.”

Following the breakup of the Beatles, Lennon and Ono moved to New York City in 1971, where Lennon sought to escape the mayhem of the Beatles era and focus on his family and private life. At the same time, he created some of the most acclaimed songs and albums of his career, most of them written at his apartment at The Dakota on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, including Mind Games, Whatever Gets You Thru the Night, I’m Losing You, and Woman. He also remained highly active in the anti-war movement as well as numerous other progressive political causes.

As much as New York made an impact on Lennon and Ono by offering them an oasis of personal and creative freedom, so too did they shape the city. At a time when New York faced record high crime, economic fallout and seemed to be on the verge of collapse, Lennon and Ono became a beloved fixture in neighborhood restaurants, at Central Park, at sports events and at political demonstrations.

Lennon and Ono also bonded with millions of their fellow New Yorkers in their experience as immigrants. The film traces their struggle to remain in the U.S. when the Nixon administration sought to deport them, supposedly based on a narcotics violation, but which Lennon insisted was in response to his anti-war activities.

LENNONYC features never-before heard studio recordings from the Double Fantasy sessions and never-before-seen outtakes from Lennon in concert and home movies that have only recently been transferred to video. It also features exclusive interviews with Yoko Ono, who cooperated extensively with the production and offers an unprecedented level of access, as well as with artists who worked closely with Lennon during this period, including Elton John and photographer Bob Gruen – who took the iconic photograph of Lennon in front of the skyline wearing a “New York City” t-shirt.

American Masters: LENNONYC is a co-production of Two Lefts Don’t Make A Right Productions, Dakota Group and Thirteen’s American Masters in association with wnet.org for PBS. The writer and director of American Masters: LENNONYC is Michael Epstein, with executive producers Stanley Buchthal, Michael Cohl and Susan Lacy.

Find out more about American Masters: LENNONYC at pbs.org/americanmasters.