From the WETA team that created the Peabody Award-winning series Latino Americans and the film The Jewish Americans comes a new four-hour documentary series about the Italian experience in America. Seven years in the making, the WETA film The Italian Americans premieres this month on public television nationwide, exploring the evolution of Italian Americans – from the late 19th century to the present – from “outsiders” to some of the most prominent leaders of business, politics and the arts today. Written and produced by John Maggio and narrated by Academy Award-nominated actor Stanley Tucci, the series is a production of WETA and Ark Media, in association with John Maggio Productions.
Now streaming so you can watch it online: http://video.pbs.org/program/
The Italian Americans explores a universal aspect of the immigrant story – the struggle of a group to adapt to a new environment and become participants in American life – while illuminating the distinct experience and unique, engaging culture of Italian Americans. Through extensive archival materials, and interviews with historians and journalists, and Italian Americans such as Tony Bennett, David Chase, Dion DiMucci, Gay Talese, Adriana Trigiani and John Turturro, the WETA series spotlights those who played vital roles in shaping the relationship between Italians and mainstream American society. The film includes the stories of Amadeo Giannini, who founded Bank of America; early 20th-century union activist and poet Arturo Giovannitti; Rudolph Valentino, the 1920s film star and sex symbol; Joe DiMaggio, one of the most celebrated baseball players of his generation; and U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi, former New York Governor Mario Cuomo and U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, who each broke new ground for Italian Americans in public service.
“The first waves of Italian immigrants in this country weren’t embraced very warmly by mainstream society,” said John Maggio. “They were basically held at arm’s length and looked upon with a certain amount of disdain and suspicion. But eventually, the children of those first immigrants, and their children, began to gain a foothold in positions of power and would become some of the most influential and important leaders of American life in the 20th century.”