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PIONEERS OF TELEVISION: Miniseries

Airs Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Fiddler (Louis Gossett Jr.) offers sage advice to Kunta Kinte (LeVar Burton) in the 1977 miniseries "Roots."

Emmy-award winning radio personality, television host and producer Ryan Seacrest has signed on to narrate the third season of PIONEERS OF TELEVISION, PBS’ Emmy-nominated series that brings to life the stories of television’s most beloved stars. PIONEERS OF TELEVISION returns to PBS Tuesday, January 15, 2013, and runs through February 5. The new season’s four episodes are “Funny Ladies” (January 15), “Primetime Soaps” (January 22), “Superheroes” (January 29) and “Miniseries” (February 5).

TV Trivia

Which pioneer of television are you? Answer all 10 questions to find out which icon of television has a lot in common with you!

Courtesy of PBS PIONEERS OF TELEVISION

Louis Gossett Jr. (as Fiddler) plays the fiddle in the 1977 miniseries “Roots.”

Courtesy of PBS PIONEERS OF TELEVISION

Rachel Ward and Bryan Brown on “The Thorn Birds.”

Courtesy of PBS PIONEERS OF TELEVISION

Even before “The Thorn Birds” and “Shogun,” Richard Chamberlain was well known on television for his work on “Dr. Kildare.”

Stars featured in PIONEERS include Carol Burnett, Lynda Carter, Joan Collins, Diahann Carroll, Richard Chamberlain, Patrick Duffy, Lou Ferrigno, Tina Fey, Louis Gossett Jr., Larry Hagman, Cloris Leachman, Joan Rivers, Leslie Uggams, Rachel Ward, Adam West and Betty White, among many others.

In PIONEERS OF TELEVISION more than 100 stars bring their stories to life, telling backstage tales of America’s favorite shows. Each episode melds compelling new interviews with iconic clips and never-before-seen photos to offer an insider’s look at television’s biggest celebrities.

“We are thrilled to bring another season of PIONEERS OF TELEVISION to PBS,” said executive producer Steve Boettcher, who, along with producing partner Mike Trinklein, has helmed numerous acclaimed specials and series about television’s breakthrough performers. “It’s doubly exciting to have our show led by one of contemporary television’s most ubiquitous stars, as well as one of its most ardent fans and talented creators.”

"Miniseries" - Miniseries still rank among the top-rated programs in television history; they were major events that captured the nation’s imagination. “Roots” was the biggest — interviewed about that groundbreaking series are stars 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 players from the landmark miniseries “The Thorn Birds” appear, providing surprising commentary about the romance seen by more viewers than any other in TV history. New interviews with Richard Chamberlain, Rachel Ward and Bryan Brown mark the 30th anniversary of one of television’s biggest events.

Video

Preview: Pioneers Of Television: Miniseries

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Above: Join the stars of landmark miniseries who kept America — and the world — riveted to the epic sagas they portrayed in a new television format. Featuring “Roots,” “Rich Man, Poor Man” and “The Thorn Birds.”

Video

A Transcendent Moment in "Roots"

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Above: “Roots” co-stars Louis Gossett Jr. and LeVar Burton describe a special scene they shared and all that it implied. Gossett Jr., who played the character Fiddler, spontaneously added a line of his own when comforting the young Kunta Kinte, played by Burton. “Roots” author Alex Haley, who was also on the set, let the unscripted line remain. Burton calls Gossett Jr.’s acting at that moment, “transcendent.” The miniseries “Roots” is featured on the PIONEERS OF TELEVISION "Miniseries" episode.

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John Amos on Ancestors and "Roots"

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Above: One day while on the set of “Roots,” actor John Amos felt “taken by the spirit” of his ancestors. Amos played the adult Kunta Kinte in the ground-breaking miniseries about the African-American experience of slavery. “Roots” is featured in the PIONEERS OF TELEVISION "Miniseries" episode.

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"Roots" as Untold History

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Above: “Roots” actors Leslie Uggams (Kizzy) and LeVar Burton (the young Kunta Kinte) talk about how the miniseries brought untold African-American history to light, making “Roots” a lesson for everyone. The miniseries “Roots” is featured on the PIONEERS OF TELEVISION "Miniseries" episode.

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