October’s PBS Fall Arts Festival, hosted by Gloria Estefan, brings even more visual arts, theatre, and music programs to NPT.

If you’ve been enjoying our Pioneers of TV series (which continues Thursdays at 9 p.m.), you’ll want to catch Mary Tyler Moore: A Celebration, airing Tuesday, October 13, at 7 p.m. The show includes clips from Moore’s long career and interviews with co-stars Dick Van Dyke, Ed Asner, Betty White, and Valerie Harper.


Ai Weiwei in The Fake Case

Ai Weiwei in The Fake Case

Ai Weiwei is known almost as much for his run-ins with the Chinese authorities as he is for covering gallery floors with ceramic sunflower seeds or incorporating ancient urns into his work. Ai Weiwei: The Fake Case, airing Friday, October 2, at 9 p.m. on the POV series, begins with Ai returning home after a lengthy detainment. The Fake Case—the title reflects Ai’s cleverness with double meanings—is not only a chronicle of Ai’s house arrest; it’s also commentary on modern surveillance culture as Ai documents himself being documented by the police, the media, and his own team. Viewers also get a glimpse of Ai’s six-part installation depicting scenes of his imprisonment, now on view at London’s Royal Academy of Arts.

Watch Ai WeiWei: Never Sorry, an earlier documentary about the artist, Tuesday, October 6, at 11 p.m. on Independent Lens.

See how Seattle glass artist Dale Chihuly’s school has grown from a couple of furnaces and a collection of tents to become a renowned art school in Pilchuck: A Dance with Fire, airing Thursday, October 15, at 8 p.m. Chihuly was the subject of exhibitions at Cheekwood and the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in 2010 and is one of many glass artists featured in the documentary.


Our music programming this month includes specials showcasing two icons. Unity: The Latin Tribute to Michael Jackson features Latin American artists performing their interpretations of the late star’s hits. Inspired by the best-selling Unity album, the show is hosted by percussionist Sheila E. and is part of NPT’s Hispanic Heritage Month programming. Watch Friday, October 9, at 8 p.m. Guitar legend Eric Clapton celebrated his 70th birthday this past spring with a concert at one of his favorite venues. Eric Clapton: Slowhand at 70 – Live at the Royal Albert Hall airs Saturday, October 17, at 9 p.m.

Closer to home, a new season of Music City Roots launches with a new format and a new venue. Season three was recorded live from the Factory at Franklin; watch it Fridays at 7 p.m. beginning October 23.


Vanessa Williams in Show Boat

Vanessa Williams in Show Boat

Show Boat explores racial issues through the lives of three generations of show people performing on Mississippi riverboats and in cities. On Friday, October 16, at 8 p.m., Live from Lincoln Center presents a concert version of Kern and Hammerstein’s Show Boat featuring a cast led by Vanessa Williams with Norm Lewis, Jane Alexander, Julian Ovenden (Downton Abbey) and Lauren Worsham performing with the New York Philharmonic.

Ruthie Henshall and Elliott Hanna in Billy Elliot the Musical Live on GREAT PERFORMANCES.

Ruthie Henshall and Elliott Hanna in Billy Elliot: The Musical Live on Great Performances.

The following Friday, October 23, at 8 p.m., Great Performances is off to London’s West End for Billy Elliot: The Musical Live. Based on the 2000 movie and written by Elton John and Lee Hall, it’s the story of a young boy from a coal mining town who discovers a passion for dance. In this production Liam Mower, who originated the stage role of Billy, returns as Older Billy, and 25 current and former Billys perform a mash-up finale.

We close out October with a Halloween treat: Danny Elfman’s Music from the Films of Tim Burton. Clips accompany Elfman, an orchestra and choir as they perform music from Batman, Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, and The Nightmare Before Christmas. This Live from Lincoln Center airs Friday, October 30, at 8 p.m. and incorporates Burton’s original sketches and storyboards.

If you enjoy arts programming on NPT, please show your support by going to our website, www.wnpt.org, and clicking the donate button. To watch encore presentations of many of our programs, tune in to NPT2, our secondary channel.

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