The documentary, titled "Leonard Bernstein, Reaching for the Note," will air in New York 9 PM on Channel 13. (Check listings for local times elsewhere.)
The program coincides with the preview period of the Broadway revival of Bernstein's On the Town, his debut Broadway score first presented in 1944. Official Broadway opening of the revival, produced by the Public Theater, is Nov. 19.
The PBS documentary features interviews with such Bernstein collaborators as composer Stephen Sondheim, lyricists Adolph Green and Betty Comden, and choreographer-director Jerome Robbins, who died in July 1998.
Bernstein, who died in 1990 at the age of 72, rose to fame at the age of 25 when he was called upon to fill in for the New York Philharmonic's guest conductor Bruno Walter, who had fallen ill. He proved an instant sensation and was named director of the New York City Symphony only two years later. For many Americans, however, the composer and conductor was best known for his work in the musical theatre, which, aside from the beloved West Side Story and On the Town, included Wonderful Town, a 1950 Peter Pan and 1976's 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., his last musical.
The "American Masters" program is a co-production of Thirteen/WNET in New York, Unitel (KirchGroup), NHK, Channel Four and Deutsche Grammophon. The show is written and directed by Susan Lacy.