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PIONEERS OF TELEVISION: Standup To Sitcom

Airs Friday, July 11, 2014 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: John Goodman and Roseanne Barr in a scene from ROSEANNE.

More than 200 breakthrough stars bring their stories to life in season four of this Emmy-nominated documentary series. Each episode melds compelling new interviews with irresistible clips to offer a fresh take on TV’s biggest celebrities.

Courtesy of PIONEERS OF TELEVISION archives

Jerry Seinfeld doing standup in the years before SEINFELD.

Courtesy of PIONEERS OF TELEVISION archives

Ray Romano does standup in the era before EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND.

Courtesy of PIONEERS OF TELEVISION archives

Bob Newhart, shortly after he made the transition from accountant to comedian.

Featured stars in this season’s four new episodes: “Standup to Sitcom” (July 11) “Doctors and Nurses” (July 18) “Breaking Barriers” (July 25) and “Acting Funny” (August 1), include Jerry Seinfeld, Robin Williams, Roseanne Barr, Bill Cosby, Tim Allen, Ray Romano, Noah Wyle, Anthony Edwards, Diahann Carroll, Howie Mandel, Bob Newhart and many more.

"Standup To Sitcom" - This star-packed episode features fresh interviews with Jerry Seinfeld, Roseanne Barr, Tim Allen, Ray Romano and Bob Newhart.

The program reveals how America's top standup comics made the transition to the sitcom format and includes dozens of clips from SEINFELD, HOME IMPROVEMENT, EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND, ROSEANNE and more.

“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 specials and series on television’s breakthrough performers. “From stars that had Americans howling with laughter in front of their television screens, to the ones who broke barriers — and maybe even some who saved lives — this season’s line-up features legends who paved the way for contemporary television.”

“The fourth season of PIONEERS OF TELEVISION continues the series’ winning formula of bringing television’s most well-known stars and their lesser-known stories to PBS,” says Donald Thoms, PBS Vice President of General Audience Programming. “The show does a masterful job of serving us the history of the medium while telling us the backstage tales of America’s favorite shows.”

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PIONEERS OF TELEVISION: Season Four Preview

Above: More than 200 breakthrough stars bring their stories to life in season four of this Emmy-nominated documentary series. Each episode melds compelling new interviews with irresistible clips to offer a fresh take on TV’s biggest celebrities.

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Standup To Sitcom Preview

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Roseanne Barr, Working Class Feminist

Above: An extension of Roseanne Barr’s unapologetically feminist standup persona, ROSEANNE made waves by fearlessly tackling difficult social, political and economic issues with humor and homespun grace. With nine successful seasons on the air, ROSEANNE redefined the concept of the American family and deeply influenced a generation of viewers.

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Creating SEINFELD

Above: When Jerry Seinfeld sat down with friend and fellow comedian Larry David in 1989 to discuss plans for a sitcom, they knew they wanted to create a scenario that wasn’t too far from Jerry’s real life experience: a New York standup comedian who hung out with his friends doing a whole lot of nothing. SEINFELD was born.

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Tim Allen's Transition to TV

Above: When Disney chief Jeffrey Katzenberg first approached Tim Allen about doing a sitcom, Allen outright refused, only relenting when Katzenberg guaranteed him complete editorial freedom – the ability to create a show from scratch based on his standup persona.