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N.Y. Screen: What's Up, Docs?

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For every documentarian save Michael Moore, a television deal—not a theatrical run or a festival award—has become the ultimate prize. (And even Moore passed up his shot at a Fahrenheit 9/11 Oscar for a run on TV.) So from April 11 to 22, The Museum of Television & Radio’s Television Documentary Festival, which last year debuted the sensational Oscar winner Born Into Brothels, will reassert television’s documentary dominance with premieres examining both masters of the universe (The Last Mogul: The Life and Times of Lew Wasserman) and, well, masters of stupid human tricks (Pucker Up: The Fine Art of Whistling). Most important, the series introduces two new New York stories: Ring of Fire: The Emile Griffith Story is a terrific documentary about a gay boxing legend, packed with good-ol’-days appreciations by the likes of Pete Hamill and Norman Mailer, and Meema Spadola’s Red Hook Justice examines misdemeanor offenders at the Red Hook Community Justice Center. In a savvy nod to the rise of political docs, the festival’s pitting legend Robert Drew (Primary) against Alexandra Pelosi (Journeys With George), Michael Moore basher Ted Steinberg (Celsius 41.11), and others in an opening panel that’s sure to provoke heat, light, or both.


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