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Arts & Culture


Lemon Andersen at the Himalaya ride, Coney Island.
Courtesy of Dandelion Films, Inc. / Matthew Akers
Lemon Andersen at the Himalaya ride, Coney Island.

Airs Friday, October 19, 2012 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV

"LEMON," a new documentary about the acclaimed New York poet/playwright Lemon Andersen, will have its broadcast premiere on PBS as part of Latino Public Broadcasting’s arts and culture series VOCES ON PBS, in conjunction with Hispanic Heritage Month. Produced and directed by Laura Brownson and Beth Levison, "LEMON" is a Russell Simmons presentation in association with Impact Partners.

A three-time felon and one-time Tony Award winner, Lemon Andersen’s deeply personal art reflects his raw upbringing on the streets of Brooklyn. The son of a Puerto Rican mother and Norwegian-American father, both of whom succumbed to drugs and AIDS, Lemon discovered poetry while serving time.

Through an unstoppable combination of talent and drive, in 2003 he miraculously found himself on Broadway, starring in Russell Simmons’ Tony Award-winning production of "Def Poetry Jam." But after six months, the show closed and the fame and money were gone as quickly as they had come.


As the film begins, Lemon has landed back in the projects, living with his wife, daughters and extended family, and desperate for a way out. He turns to the only things he has left — his pen and his story.

Filmed over the course of three years, we follow Lemon as he attempts to bring his life story to the stage in a new work entitled "County of Kings," while navigating the perilous world of the New York theatrical community and battling demons from his past.

Shot on location in the places that shaped the man and his art, including Coney Island, the Brooklyn projects and Rikers Island, and featuring a surprise turn by Spike Lee and music by hip-hop phenomena Kanye West, Mos Def, Talib Kweli and others, "LEMON" brings to life the anguish of a generation of men clinging to the margins but fighting for something more — as Lemon says, “chasing normalcy.”

"LEMON" the film is on Facebook, and you can follow @Lemonthemovie or @LemonAndersen on Twitter.

Lemon Trailer
Scene from LEMON: Coney Island, N.Y.
Q&A with Lemon Anderson and filmmakers Laura Brownson and Beth Levison