Making Masterpiece: 25 Years Behind the Scenes at Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery! on PBS

Making Masterpiece: 25 Years Behind the Scenes at Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery! on PBS

3.8 8
by Rebecca Eaton, To Be Announced
     
 

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The Emmy Award-winning producer of PBS’s Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery! reveals the secrets to Downton Abbey, Sherlock, and its other hit programs

For more than twenty-five years and counting, Rebecca Eaton has presided over PBS’s Masterpiece Theatre, the longest running weekly prime time drama series in

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Overview

The Emmy Award-winning producer of PBS’s Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery! reveals the secrets to Downton Abbey, Sherlock, and its other hit programs

For more than twenty-five years and counting, Rebecca Eaton has presided over PBS’s Masterpiece Theatre, the longest running weekly prime time drama series in American history. From the runaway hits
Upstairs, Downstairs  and The Buccaneers, to the hugely popular Inspector Morse, Prime Suspect, and Poirot, Masterpiece Theatre and its sibling series Mystery! have been required viewing for fans of quality drama.

Eaton interviews many of the writers, directors, producers, and other contributors and shares personal anecdotes—including photos taken with her own camera—about her decades-spanning career. She reveals what went on behind the scenes during such triumphs as Cranford and the multiple, highly-rated programs made from Jane Austen’s novels, as well as her aggressive campaign to attract younger viewers via social media and online streaming. Along the way she shares stories about actors and other luminaries such as Alistair Cooke, Maggie Smith, Diana Rigg, Benedict Cumberbatch and Daniel Radcliffe, whose first TV role was as the title character in David Copperfield.

Readers will also get to know Eaton on a personal level. With a childhood steeped in theater, an affinity for nineteenth century novels and culture, and an  “accidental apprenticeship” with the BBC, Eaton was practically born to  lead the Masterpiece and Mystery! franchises. Making Masterpiece marks the first time  the driving force behind the enduring flagship show reveals all.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“[An] anecdote-filled memoir…Rebecca Eaton looks back on 25 fascinating years at Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery! at PBS.”—USA Today

“Eaton weaves an absorbing tale of what began as just a young girl’s Anglophilia but would eventually change the viewing habits of Americans…Though the book’s most compelling moments are culled from the battles Eaton waged as producer, she manages to put everything in perspective as a highly successful working mother who had plenty to fight for at home as well…. In the end, Eaton looks back with unflagging fondness at her life’s work and the spectrum of experiences it has brought her.”—Hollywood Reporter

“ Eaton recounts these tales with zest.”—McClatchy Tribune

“[An] engaging new memoir.”—Bay Area Newsgroup

“A treasure house of anecdote and insight, observation and object lessons, Making Masterpiece is quietly electrifying.”—Shelf Awareness

“In addition to these sometimes charming, sometimes bawdy anecdotes, Eaton brings a strong personal element to the narrative…she is able to humanize what is sometimes seen as an impersonal area of the showbiz world…A pleasing blend of memoir and retrospective with a wide audience appeal. Recommended for readers interested in the history of television and the business aspects of the creative process and, of course, PBS devotees.”—Library Journal

“A delightful trek into the world of TV production and a substantive treat for the truly addicted PBS fan.”—Kirkus

“In the world of TV drama, names and faces appear and disappear with bewildering speed; Rebecca Eaton is immortal and immutable…She has made an enormous contribution to the cultural life of America, and, more than that, she is one of the most fun people I know.”
—Andrew Davies, Vanity Fair

“Rebecca has been the executive producer of Masterpiece for 25 of its 40 years. We Americans are fortunate to have Rebecca at the helm: someone committed to bringing great television drama to the widest possible audience, week after week.”—Gillian Anderson, The 2011 Time 100

Library Journal
11/01/2013
From its breakout hit Upstairs, Downstairs (1971) to the current phenomenon that is Downton Abbey, Masterpiece (both with and without the "Theatre") has maintained an iconic standing among viewers and has served as the first step for countless Americans on the road to full-blown Anglophilia. Executive producer Eaton tells the series' story with the help of dozens of the men and women who contributed, both in front of the camera and behind the scenes, to its success. In addition to these sometimes charming, sometimes bawdy anecdotes, Eaton brings a strong personal element to the narrative. Whether responding to the sudden loss of corporate sponsorship, facing the challenge of replacing the one-and-only Alistair Cooke as host, or reflecting on the demands her career placed upon her family life, she is able to humanize what is sometimes seen as an impersonal area of the showbiz world. VERDICT A pleasing blend of memoir and retrospective with a wide audience appeal. Recommended for readers interested in the history of television and the business aspects of the creative process and, of course, PBS devotees.—Neil Derksen, Pierce Cty. Lib. Syst., Tacoma
Kirkus Reviews
2013-10-01
Chronicling her 25-year career with PBS, Eaton provides a behind-the-camera look into the creative process involved in producing Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery! As a self-described Anglophile ("Anglophilia is not a dirty word--it's an "honorable and manageable condition"), the author's career path to executive producer of Masterpiece seems to have been predestined. Eaton's mother was an actress on Broadway in the 1930s and a Hollywood contract player in the 1950s; her father taught Shakespeare and other literature at MIT and elsewhere. "Brought up on a steady diet of classic British literature," writes the author, "I'm amazed at the inevitability that my life's work has turned out to be as a purveyor of this particular opiate." The author combines personal anecdotes with interviews of writers, directors, hosts and numerous stars who contributed to her projects over the course of her career, including Alistair Cooke, Maggie Smith, Diana Rigg and Gillian Anderson. For those interested in the technical aspects of producing a TV show, Eaton lays out the process, beginning with the project's initial stages through completion, including the delicate dance involved in fundraising. Eaton uses the Masterpiece program Cranford, starring Judi Dench, as her case study, and she also recounts her quest to rebrand Masterpiece for a younger demographic using marketing and social media as promotional tools. "Our social media presence for Downton [Abbey] season three created the highest-ever Twitter buzz for a PBS program," she writes. Eaton explores the possible explanations for the remarkable success of Downton, which "has catapulted Masterpiece into a whole new orbit of publicity, visibility, and popularity." A delightful trek into the world of TV production and a substantive treat for the truly addicted PBS fan.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781482930191
Publisher:
Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Publication date:
10/28/2013
Edition description:
Unabridged
Pages:
8
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author

Rebecca Eaton regards her decades-long stewardship of Masterpiece as the ideal job for the daughter of an English professor and an actress. She has been the executive producer of the show for twenty-eight of its forty-two years on the air. Awards on her watch include forty-three prime-time Emmy awards, fifteen Peabody awards, two Golden Globes, and two Academy Award nominations.

At Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery! she extended the programs' reach with contemporary dramas; initiated co-productions with the BBC (Middlemarch, The Buccaneers); co-produced feature films such as Jane Austen's Persuasion and Mrs. Brown starring Dame Judi Dench; and oversaw the rebranding of the series in 2008. Queen Elizabeth II awarded her an honorary OBE (Officer, Order of the British Empire) in 2003.

She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and spends time at the family house in Kennebunkport, Maine.

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