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AMERICAN MASTERS: Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive

Airs Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017 at 10:30 p.m. on KPBS TV

Tony Award-winning and Emmy-nominated actor Denis O'Hare stars as Edgar Allan...

Credit: Courtesy of Liane Brandon

Above: Tony Award-winning and Emmy-nominated actor Denis O'Hare stars as Edgar Allan Poe in AMERICAN MASTERS "Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive."

AMERICAN MASTERS Presents the Exclusive U.S. Broadcast Premiere of "Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive" Starring Denis O’Hare, October 30 on PBS for Halloween

Narrated by Kathleen Turner with readings by Chris Sarandon and Ben Schnetzer

After his death, writer Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) became a global icon of modern literature and a pop culture brand.

Best known for his Gothic horror tales and narrative poem “The Raven,” Poe’s stories are the basis of countless films and TV episodes, and have inspired even more, as has his name and image.

S31 Ep8: Experience Poe's dramatic readings of "The Raven"

After the extremely successful release of Poe's "The Raven," he became famous for his dramatic readings of the poem. Tony Award-winning and Emmy-nominated actor Denis O’Hare ("This Is Us," "American Horror Story," "Take Me Out," "True Blood") stars as Poe in this documentary.

At least four American cities claim this literary legend as their own – Baltimore, Richmond, Philadelphia and New York: an NFL football team is named after one of his poems, and his image appears on everything from the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album cover to lunchboxes, bobbleheads and socks.

Creating the detective fiction genre with “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” (1841), Poe wrote over 100 short stories and poems altogether, beginning with "Tamerlane and Other Poems" (1827), his first published work.

Written and directed by Eric Stange ("The War That Made America," AMERICAN EXPERIENCE "Murder at Harvard"), the new documentary AMERICAN MASTERS “Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive” draws on the rich palette of Poe’s evocative imagery and sharply drawn plots to tell the real story of the notorious author.

S31 Ep8: Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive - Trailer

Best known for his Gothic horror tales and narrative poem “The Raven,” Poe’s stories are the basis of countless films and TV episodes, and have inspired even more, as has his name and image. Determined to re-invent American literature, Poe was an influential – and brutally honest – literary critic and magazine editor, who also invented the detective protagonist with his character C. Auguste Dupin.

Starring Tony Award-winning and Emmy-nominated actor Denis O'Hare (THIS IS US, AMERICAN HORROR STORY, "Take Me Out") and narrated by Oscar- and Tony-nominated, two-time Golden Globe-winner Kathleen Turner, AMERICAN MASTERS “Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive” explores the misrepresentations of Poe as a drug-addled madman akin to the narrators of his horror stories.

S31 Ep8: Denis O'Hare on Becoming Poe

Actor Denis O'Hare (American Horror Story, This Is Us) discusses the "tough" job of preparing for the role of Edgar Allan Poe: "There's so much information about him, and in a way you have to filter out all of the biases you have about who you think he is and get to who the man really was." The man he discovered was emotionally intense, brilliant and creative.

This caricature is thanks, in large part, to a high-profile obituary filled with falsehoods, written by his literary rival Rufus W. Griswold.

The fake news behind Edgar Allan Poe's reputation

When Edgar Allan Poe died under mysterious circumstances, his literary rival, Rufus W. Griswold, wrote a high-profile obituary filled with falsehoods that cast him as a lunatic and a madman.

Determined to re-invent American literature, Poe was an influential – and brutally honest – literary critic and magazine editor, who also invented the detective protagonist with his character C. Auguste Dupin, refined the science fiction genre and popularized short stories, actually writing more comedies than horror.

An orphan in search of family, love and literary fame, Poe struggled with alcoholism and was also a product of early 19th century American urban life: depressed from the era’s culture of death due to the high mortality rate and the struggles of living in poverty.

Poe famously died under mysterious circumstances and his cause of death remains unknown.

“The mystery around Poe’s death is the least of it,” said filmmaker Eric Stange. “The real question at the heart of this film is why Edgar Allan Poe continues to be one of the most popular writers in the history of Western literature – and one of the most misunderstood.”

S31 Ep8: Behind the scenes of "Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive

Actor Denis O'Hare and American Masters Executive Producer Michael Kantor discuss the making of the film "Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive."

Filmed in Boston Harbor’s historic Fort Independence at Castle Island, “Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive” combines dramatized re-enactments with O’Hare of key moments in Poe’s life, readings from Poe’s works by O’Hare, Oscar-nominated actor Chris Sarandon (“The Nightmare Before Christmas,” “The Princess Bride,” “Dog Day Afternoon”) and actor Ben Schnetzer ("Snowden," "Goat," "Pride").

S31 Ep8: Denis O'Hare brings to life "The Man of the Crowd"

"There are some secrets which do not permit themselves to be told..." Follow Edgar Allan Poe (portrayed by Denis O'Hare) as he traces the steps of a solitary man through a crowded street.

It features interviews with authors including Marilynne Robinson ("Gilead"), Matthew Pearl ("The Poe Shadow"), Jeffrey Meyers ("Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and Legacy") and Zach Dundas ("The Great Detective"), director Roger Corman (Poe film cycle including "House of Usher") and others to reveal how Poe tapped into what it means to be human in a modern and sometimes frightening world.

Mash-up: Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven"

Listen to a compilation of Edgar Allan Poe's famous poem "The Raven," read by Megan Marshall, Marilynne Robinson, Paul Lewis, Matthew Pearl, Jeffrey Meyers, Jerome McGann, Stuart Gordon, James Hutchisson, Harry Lee Poe, Scott Peeples, Ben Schnetzer, Chris Sarandon, Chris Semtner, Garrison Keillor and Roger Corman.

“America loves creepy horror stories, and there is a good reason why Poe is still taught in every high school – he is just the all-time master. Best of all, now the series has its own spooky Halloween episode,” said Michael Kantor, AMERICAN MASTERS series executive producer.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Liane Brandon

Tony Award-winning and Emmy-nominated actor Denis O'Hare stars as Edgar Allan Poe in AMERICAN MASTERS "Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive."

WATCH ON YOUR SCHEDULE:

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Photo credit: Courtesy of Liane Brandon

AMERICAN MASTERS "Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive" writer/director Eric Stange, Tony Award-winning and Emmy-nominated actor Denis O'Hare (who stars as Edgar Allan Poe), and pre-production coordinator Barbara Costa on the set.

CREDITS:

A production of Spy Pond Productions in association with the Center for Independent Documentary and THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET. Eric Stange is writer and director. Jennifer Pearce is producer and Leigh Lanocha is associate producer. Susan Jaffe Tane is executive producer. Denis O’Hare is Edgar Allan Poe. Kathleen Turner is narrator with staged readings by Chris Sarandon and Ben Schnetzer. Peter Rhodes is editor. Boyd Estus is director of photography with music by John Kusiak. Michael Kantor is AMERICAN MASTERS series executive producer.

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