BUFFALO, N.Y. – For three decades, the savvy satirist from Buffalo dubbed "the funniest man on television" by "TV Guide" shared his insights on national and world politics and society to public television audiences nationwide. Re-discover highlights of Mark Russell’s more than 100 PBS specials from 1975-2004 with “MARK RUSSELL’S AMERICA,” a WNED-TV production debuting Friday, June 1 at 9 p.m. The special also features a recent interview with Russell as he provides inimitable context for his most memorable television moments.
A master of pointed one-liners and sharp-witted piano parodies, Russell was an equal-opportunity quipster, lampooning events and newsmakers from all political persuasions. Most of his live performance specials originated in Russell’s hometown of Buffalo, N.Y. They quickly became a PBS tradition and were among the network’s most-watched programs.
“It was a true pleasure to produce this special with Mark Russell,” said WNED Senior Producer/Director Lynne Bader. “As a PBS staple for thirty years, Mark has earned this tribute to his talent and the gift of laughter and levity he gave to public television audiences with his unique perspective on American politics.”
“MARK RUSSELL’S AMERICA” covers the eras of Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Clinton and George W. Bush. Ample comedic fodder includes presidential campaigns, Congressional antics and defining moments -- from Iran-Contra and the first Gulf War to the Monica Lewinski scandal.
Russell’s timely observations set the standard for political satire, entertaining audiences long before Jon Stewart, Bill Maher and the Colbert Report. Accompanied by his piano, Russell’s song parodies illuminated virtually any topic with poetic humor.
WNED-TV produced the “MARK RUSSELL COMEDY SPECIALS” for PBS for almost 30 years after station executives “discovered” Russell performing at the Shoreham Hotel in Washington D.C.
About WNED Buffalo-Toronto:
Through WNED-TV, ThinkBright and Well/WORLD TV, Classical 94.5 WNED-FM and WBFO-FM 88.7 / WNED-AM 970, member-supported WNED Buffalo-Toronto provides high quality programming and services to local, regional and national audiences that enlighten, inspire, entertain and educate Western New York and Southern Ontario communities. Additional information about WNED can be found at wned.org.
WNED has become a significant producer of original television content for both local and national PBS broadcast. WNED-TV productions have contributed significantly to the Western New York and Southern Ontario communities by reflecting the station’s diverse, bi-national audience. Previous local productions that have made a profound regional impact include: “BUFFALO’S VOICES OF STEEL” (2010), “REMEMBERING CRYTSAL BEACH PARK” (2008), “POLONIA: WESTERN NEW YORK’S POLISH AMERICAN LEGACY” (2005), and “BUFFALO’S HOUSES OF WORSHIP” (2002).