THIRTEEN’s American Masters and Latino Public Broadcasting’s VOCES Present the First Documentary on Legendary and Influential Puerto Rican Actor
Raúl Juliá September 13, 2019 on PBS
Features new interviews with Rita Moreno, Edward James Olmos, John Leguizamo, Anjelica Huston, Jimmy Smits, Esai Morales, James Earl Jones, Andy Garcia and many others
THIRTEEN’s American Masters and Latino Public Broadcasting’s VOCES join forces to present the first documentary about Raúl Juliá, the versatile Puerto Rican actor whose work on stage and screen took the world by storm. American Masters — Raúl Juliá: The World’s a Stage premieres Friday, September 13, 2019 at 9 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/americanmasters and the PBS Video App in honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month.
From award-winning director Ben DeJesus (Great Performances: John Leguizamo’s Road to Broadway, John Leguizamo: Tales from a Ghetto Klown), Raúl Juliá: The World’s a Stage is a warm and revealing portrait of the charismatic, groundbreaking actor’s journey from his native Puerto Rico to the creative hotbed of 1960s New York City, to prominence on Broadway and in Hollywood. Filled with passion, determination and joy, Juliá’s brilliant and daring career was tragically cut short by his untimely death 25 years ago, at age 54.
Told in his own voice through archival interviews and in the words of those who knew him best, the film traces Juliá’s personal and professional life while showcasing performances from his collaboration with Joseph Papp’s The Public Theater to his successful cinematic career. His best-known roles include the history-making productions of Titus Andronicus, Two Gentlemen of Verona with Clifton Davis, The Taming of the Shrew with Meryl Streep and The Threepenny Opera, the Broadway musical Nine, and films such as Kiss of the Spider Woman, Moon Over Parador, Romero, Presumed Innocent and The Addams Family.
Interviews with some of the most respected actors who worked alongside Juliá, including Anjelica Huston, Edward James Olmos, Rita Moreno, James Earl Jones, Sonia Braga, Rubén Blades and Esai Morales, illuminate his impact as an artist. In addition, actors John Leguizamo, Jimmy Smits, Andy Garcia and others share how they were profoundly influenced by Juliá and carry the torch of his legacy. Juliá’s personal side comes to life through never-before-seen family photos and home videos, along with reminiscences from his wife, Merel, his sons, relatives and friends, who share candid insights about his life away from the spotlight.
The son of a prominent San Juan family, Juliá was discovered by Broadway actor Orson Bean, who heard Juliá’s powerful singing at a popular nightclub while vacationing in Puerto Rico. Encouraged by Bean, and despite the concern of his family, he moved to New York City in 1964. Although struggling at first to make ends meet, Juliá quickly earned roles with travelling troupes that played in neighborhoods throughout the city, and was soon performing with the acclaimed New York Shakespeare Festival.
Ever-present throughout Juliá’s story is the cultural landscape of the entertainment world and the boundaries he broke. Before diversity and inclusion efforts were part of the national conversation, the big man with the engaging personality and accent was able to amass a varied body of timeless work that helped pave the way for Latino actors today. He was also a passionate and pioneering advocate of social causes, including ending hunger. In Juliá’s words, “It’s all done within a context of love. That’s the beauty of it, you see?”
American Masters — Raúl Juliá: The World’s a Stage is special presentation of American Masters and VOCES. The film is a co-production of ITVS, NGL Studios, Diamante Content, and LATINO PUBLIC BROADCASTING in association with American Masters Pictures. Director/Producer: Ben DeJesus. Producer: Jill Krikorian. Executive Producers: Sandie Viquez Pedlow, Donald Thoms, John Leguizamo, Michael Kantor and Sally Jo Fifer. Michael Kantor is executive producer for American Masters. Sandie Viquez Pedlowis executive producer for VOCES.
Major support for American Masters – Raúl Juliá: The World’s a Stageis provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Additional support has been provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Major support for American Masters is provided by AARP. Additional support is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Rosalind P. Walter, Seton Melvin, Vital Projects Fund, Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, Lillian Goldman Programming Endowment, Judith and Burton Resnick, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, Ellen & James S. Marcus and public television viewers.
About American Masters
American Masters, THIRTEEN’s award-winning biography series, celebrates our arts and culture. Launched in 1986, the series set the standard for documentary film profiles, accruing widespread critical acclaim and earning 28 Emmy Awards — including 10 for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series and five for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special — 14 Peabodys, an Oscar, three Grammys, two Producers Guild Awards and many other honors. To further explore the lives and works of masters past and present, American Masters offers streaming video of select films, outtakes, filmmaker interviews, the American Masters Podcast, educational resources and more. The series is a production of THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET and also seen on the WORLD channel. American Masters is available for streaming simultaneously on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video app, which is available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Chromecast. PBS station members can view episodes via Passport (contact your local PBS station for details).
Produced by Latino Public Broadcasting, the acclaimed PBS documentary series VOCES features the best of Latino arts, culture and history and shines a light on current issues that impact Latino Americans. Devoted to exploring the rich diversity of the Latino experience, VOCES presents new and established filmmakers and brings their powerful and illuminating stories to a national audience — on TV, online and on the PBS app. VOCES is presented by PBS SoCal and supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
ITVS is a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization that has, for over 25 years, funded and partnered with a diverse range of documentary filmmakers to produce and distribute untold stories. ITVS incubates and co-produces these award-winning films and then airs them for free on PBS via our weekly series, Independent Lens, as well as other series, and Indie Lens Storycast and our digital platform, OVEE. ITVS is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. For more information, visit itvs.org.
About Latino Public Broadcasting
Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB) is the leader in the development, production, acquisition and distribution of non-commercial educational and cultural media that is representative of Latino people, or addresses issues of particular interest to Latino Americans. These programs are produced for dissemination to public broadcasting stations and other public telecommunication entities. Latino Public Broadcasting provides a voice to the diverse Latino community throughout the United States and is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Latino Public Broadcasting produces VOCES, the signature Latino arts and culture documentary series on PBS devoted to exploring the rich diversity of the Latino cultural experience. Between 2009 and 2019, LPB programs won over 125 awards, including two prestigious George Foster Peabody Awards as well as Emmys, Imagen Awards and the Sundance Film Festival Award for Best Director, Documentary. In addition, LPB has been the recipient of the Norman Lear Legacy Award and the NCLR Alma Award for Special Achievement – Year in Documentaries. Sandie Viquez Pedlow is Executive Director of LPB; Edward James Olmos is Co-founder and Chairman.
About NGL Studios
NGL Studios is a full service digital and broadcast production company specialized in creating original and branded content that engage multicultural and mainstream audiences across any platforms where they consume video. Co-founded by director/producer Ben DeJesus, actor/writer John Leguizamo, and David Chitel (the CEO of parent company, NGL Collective), NGL Studios is an award-winning in-house team of multimedia storytellers who speak the language of now, whether it’s English, Spanish or both. With offices in New York, Miami, and Los Angeles, NGL Studios produces a growing slate of documentary, non-fiction, scripted, and branded content for top distributors and Fortune 100 companies. Their authentic approach to creating content for multicultural millennials is rooted in Ben DeJesus’ and John Leguizamo’s life experiences growing up as Latinos in the U.S. – the American multicultural experience is in their DNA, and is reflected in the work they create.
WNET is America’s flagship PBS station: parent company of New York’s THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, the statewide public media network in New Jersey. Through its new ALL ARTS multi-platform initiative, its broadcast channels, three cable services (THIRTEEN PBSKids, Create and World) and online streaming sites, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to more than five million viewers each month. WNET produces and presents a wide range of acclaimed PBS series, including Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, PBS NewsHour Weekend, and the nightly interview program Amanpour and Company. In addition, WNET produces numerous documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings, as well as multi-platform initiatives addressing poverty and climate. Through THIRTEEN Passport and WLIW Passport, station members can stream new and archival THIRTEEN, WLIW and PBS programming anytime, anywhere.