Susan Lacy, who created “American Masters” in 1985 and has served as executive producer of the respected PBS biography series, is headed to HBO to produce and direct documentaries as part of a multi-year deal. Lacy’s been the guiding voice of the WNET series as it’s built up a library of more than 190 titles over the years, looking into the lives of writers, musicians, artists, filmmakers and, recently, its first sports star in tennis player Billie Jean King.
“It has been my honor to be part of the PBS and WNET family for so many years, and to have had the opportunity to amass a body of work which I hope demonstrates the depth of our unique cultural history and the value of quality documentaries in contributing to understanding our world,” Lacy said. “I have had the great privilege of working with some of the most talented filmmakers in the field, as well as the extraordinary individuals who have allowed us to tell their stories. I am now thrilled to become part of the HBO family. To work with the amazing Sheila Nevins and her team is the dream of most documentary filmmakers, and to be able to focus solely on producing and directing documentary films at a place which is creating some of the best television in history is an opportunity I couldn’t resist.”
“Susan has left an indelible mark recording our nation’s collective history,” added PBS CEO and president Paula Kerger. “She recognized long ago that the history of our country isn’t told only in the stories of our political leaders, but must also be seen through the eyes of our artists, musicians and dancers. We’re very sad to lose her leadership and vision at ‘American Masters,’ but will continue to build on her legacy with an ongoing commitment to ‘American Masters’ on PBS.”
Lacy, a former head of the Sundance Institute’s East Coast office, has seen “American Masters” nominated for 67 Emmys to date, with 14 wins, as it has focused on everyone from Charlie Chaplin to Lou Reed to James Baldwin to Annie Leibovitz. Shane Salerno’s “Salinger,” currently in theatrical release, will be the series’ 200th film, to air early in 2014. Lacy has directed several films in the series herself, including 2012’s “Inventing David Geffen,” 1998’s “Leonard Bernstein: Reaching for the Note” and 1993’s “Paul Simon: Born at the Right Time.”