PBS' PIONEERS OF TELEVISION Will Feature Primetime Soaps

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 on Tuesday, January 15, 2013, 8:00 p.m. ET 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).

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 and the American public,” said executive producer Steve Boettcher. “It’s doubly exciting to have our show led by Ryan Seacrest, who’s both a major television star, and an ardent fan of television’s pioneers.”

Below are descriptions of PIONEERS OF TELEVISION’S THIRD season episodes.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET
This episode offers surprising new insights about television's most-beloved variety star Carol Burnett. “Funny Ladies" also looks at the backstory behind Lucille Ball’s breakthrough, I LOVE LUCY and the sitcom stars who followed, including Mary Tyler Moore, Betty White and Marla Gibbs. Featured television stand-ups include Joan Rivers and the late Phyllis Diller—whose final interview was for this episode. The episode also includes interviews with contemporary actresses Tina Fey and Margaret Cho.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET
DALLAS and DYNASTY kicked off the nighttime soap frenzy in the late 1970s, a phenomenon that continued through the last season of KNOTS LANDING in 1993. The episode offers surprising new details about the legendary “Who Shot J.R.” episode of Dallas, and reveals the backstage personalities that shaped DYNASTY and KNOTS LANDING. Interviewees in this episode include Larry Hagman, Joan Collins, Linda Evans, Diahann Carroll, Linda Gray, Patrick Duffy, Michele Lee, Joan Van Ark and Donna Mills.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET
“Superheroes” crosses many eras: SUPERMAN in the 1950s, BATMAN in the ’60s, WONDER WOMAN and THE INCREDIBLE HULK in the ’70s and THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO in the ’80s. The episode features in-depth interviews with Adam West, Burt Ward, Julie Newmar, Lynda Carter, Lou Ferrigno, William Katt and others. It also includes comments from Robert Culp about his show THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO, recorded just days before he passed away.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET
Miniseries still rank among the top-rated programs in television history. ROOTS was the biggest — interviewees about that groundbreaking series include 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 stars from the landmark miniseries THE THORN BIRDS (the most-watched romance) provide surprising commentary about the romance seen by more viewers than any other in TV history. These new interviews with Richard Chamberlain, Rachel Ward and Bryan Brown mark the 30th anniversary of one of television’s biggest events.

- DALLAS Update On The Return Gary, Val, Lucy & Afton; Plus, No Plans For Pam
- INTERVIEW: From Theater to TV to the Web - Joan Van Ark
- DALLAS Starts Production on Second Season - A Look At What Lies Ahead
- DALLAS Returns January 28, 2013 For Season 2
- Judith Light Joins DALLAS
- Annie Wersching Joins DALLAS


  1. How are they doing primetime soaps before DAYTIME? Hello??!!??

  2. And how can do "Primetime Soaps" without the one that started it all, PEYTON PLACE??

  3. And how can do "Primetime Soaps" without the one that started it all, PEYTON PLACE??

  4. Just because the synopsis doesn't mention PEYTON PLACE doesn't mean they are going to ignore it. Hopefully FORSYTE SAGA and UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS will be included as well - even though they are from the UK. This is a well-done series and I'm glad they are including serialized drama. The other three installments sound terrific too. Long live PBS!

  5. I agree with Doug about these being well done. I think it will cover them all, well, the important ones through the past 50 years.