Picks and Pans Review: American Masters
updated 06/30/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 06/30/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT
PBS launches a 15-week summer series about U.S. genius in art, architecture, theater, music and writing. Each episode is made by somebody different, so you can't—thank goodness—judge the series by its first documentary, Private Conversations, about the making of Dustin Hoffman's TV rendition of Death of a Salesman. There's more stroking going on here than in a petting zoo; the director, the co-stars, even author Arthur Miller play up to Dustin as he whines, clowns, exercises and acts. Insufferable. The next show worships architect Philip Johnson, but at least he admits that he worships himself. He also does have fascinating things to say about his buildings. American Masters, it seems, wants to celebrate genius, not dissect it. So instead of getting well-rounded portraits, you get ego in anarchy.