The Austin Chronicle

Better Than Book-Learnin'

'Master Class With John Pierson' premieres on KUT

By Kimberley Jones, June 27, 2008, Screens

Education has its perks, for sure – just ask the UT undergrads who attend John Pierson's Master Class in the Radio-Television-Film Department. Every semester, they get front-row seats to Pierson's lively discussions with some of the industry's best and brightest, like Spike Lee, Kevin Smith, and Gus Van Sant. But for the cost of something less than a four-year stint at a public university – the cost of nothing, in fact –you can check out abbreviated sessions on KUT's The Best of Public Radio program, starting this Sunday, June 29, at 11am (nestled, as Pierson puts it, in the "sweet spot between This American Life and Prairie Home Companion"). Pierson's own students take the original two-hour sessions, some of which were taped in the Austin City Limits soundstage, and whittle them down to half-hour highlight reels. Teeing up first are actor Steve Buscemi and David Simon (creator of The Wire); airing July 27 are interviews with Bravo reality-programming wizard Lauren Zalaznick and South Park's Matt Stone (always funny, especially when remembering his early days, when he and partner Trey Parker sold their first film to Troma for dirt cheap, or what he calls "a salad and a bag of peanuts"); followed by an Aug. 31 program featuring pioneering African-American filmmaker Charles Burnett (Killer of Sheep) and chronicler of American eccentrics Chris Smith (American Movie). The shows are funny and revealing and – given that the audience largely comprises college kids – not your typical Q&A song-and-dance. To wit: You can bet Charlie Rose never asked Buscemi if he'd considered a career in porn.

The new season of Master Class With John Pierson premieres on The Best of Public Radio on KUT (90.5FM) this Sunday, June 29, at 11am.

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