'American Masters' looks at Joni Mitchell

Friday, March 28, 2003

You don't have to like Joni Mitchell's music -- though how could you resist?

Either way, it's hard to argue that she isn't an artistic giant. An original. A nearly inescapable musical influence for more than three decades. (And a painter, to boot.)

Plus, she was there at the revolution (though, to be fair, she didn't make the Woodstock music festival, despite composing the song that helped make it immortal).

Now in Mitchell's 60th year, "American Masters" presents what it is calling the first full-scale portrait of her life and music. "Joni Mitchell: Woman of Heart and Mind" airs Wednesday at 8 p.m. CST on PBS (check local listings).

The 90-minute film interweaves 35 of her songs throughout a biography and an appreciation of her music. There are decades-old archives including home movies shot by Graham Nash, with whom she had a storied love affair.

Nash and fellow musicians Herbie Hancock, Tom Rush and James Taylor are among those heard from in the film, along with David Crosby, who recalls first encountering her: "I walked into a coffeehouse, and she was singing. ... I stood there just transfixed. I couldn't believe that there was anybody that good."

Watching this film, you may still find it hard to believe.

Other shows to look out for:

Take a trip with the Travel Channel's sneak preview of three new prime-time series, all airing Sunday. At 6 p.m.: the first two-hour episode of "World Poker Tour," which takes viewers to high-stakes tournaments in exotic casinos around the world (regular time slot: Wednesdays at 8 p.m.). At 8 p.m.: "The Jim Rose Twisted Tour," which captures the escapades of life on the road with the Jim Rose Circus (regular slot: Mondays at 9 p.m.). And at 9 p.m.: "TV Road Trip," a series following up on last year's special by charting nostalgic tours for TV fans, movie buffs, sports enthusiasts, magic mavens, ghost busters and much more.

Welcome the tough-luck but happy-go-lucky Pitts brood, celebrated (at least by the Fox network) as the unluckiest family in the world. A lightning bolt while flying a kite ... an alien abduction ... satanic possession -- there's definitely a pattern here. Whether there's an enduring joke remains less certain as "The Pitts" premieres Sunday at 8:30 p.m. It stars Dylan Baker and Kellie Waymire.

  • For many viewers, the premise for "Lost at Home" will hit close to home. Michael, a successful career man, is advised by his stay-at-home wife, Rachel, that if he doesn't change into a family man, and pronto, she's going to leave him. So Michael resolves to try. Jordan, Michael's boss at the advertising agency, agrees to cut him some slack. But despite his best intentions, can Michael be domesticated? Mitch Rouse and Connie Britton star along with Gregory Hines as Jordan in this latest sitcom version of a stranger in a strange land: in this case, his own home. "Lost at Home" premieres on ABC Tuesday at 8:30 p.m.

  • A week or so later than originally scheduled, Barbara Walters' not-the-Oscar-night special brings her face-to-face with Nicolas Cage, Julianne Moore and Renee Zellweger -- each of whom lost on Academy Award night. The hourlong chatfest airs on ABC Tuesday at 9 p.m.

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