The ITVS film Sam Cooke: Crossing Over recently premiered on American Masters on PBS. The film looks at the musical and political significance of composer, performer, and pioneering pop music entrepreneur Sam Cooke and the circumstances that led to his murder. Beyond the Box recently caught up with producer John Antonelli to discuss his interest in the topic, why he approached ITVS for funding, and what he hopes viewers took away from the film.
What do you hope viewers will get out of the film? I want viewers to see how rich and complicated a character Sam Cooke was. He is often remembered as having a beautiful voice and for having died in sordid circumstances. Not very many people realize what a prolific songwriter, producer, entrepreneur and activist he was. Those are the points that I tried to bring home in the film.
Can you tell us about other related work you've done? My Jack Kerouac documentary is the most pertinent piece of work that I've done. I also produce short documentaries about environmental heroes around the world for a program called Global Focus: The New Environmentalists, which is broadcast on PBS stations and on the Sundance Channel. It's narrated by Robert Redford.
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Remembering the life and impact of longtime ITVS Controller Michael Shiro, who died age 59 on October 22, 2021.