Speakeasy is produced by Front and Center Entertainment, LLC; presented by WTTW National Productions, and distributed by American Public Television.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame recipients, Grammy Award winners, and legendary iconic musicians are featured on the all-new public television interview series Speakeasy. The premiere season, created by the producers of the critically acclaimed public television concert series Front and Center, debuts this month (check local listings), and will feature iconic musician/producer and co-founder of CHIC, Nile Rodgers; acclaimed composer and rock musician Roger Waters; Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer John Mellencamp; iconic guitarist and social activist Carlos Santana; and legendary Rush front-man and bassist Geddy Lee.
Each hour-long episode gives audiences revealing insights into the lives and careers of some of the music industry’s most revered figures, facilitated by each episode’s host — an interviewer personally selected by the principals. The five-episode premiere season, taped before a live audience on a 1930’s-era set in New York’s historic McKittrick Hotel, features Nile Rodgers sitting down with Valerie Simpson, Roger Waters talking with television journalist Bill Weir, John Mellencamp with Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner, Carlos Santana being interviewed by Harry Belafonte, and Geddy Lee conversing with Pulitzer Prize-winning American author Michael Chabon.
“Artists of this caliber have doubtless done thousands of interviews throughout their careers, answering the same questions over and over again,” said Speakeasy creator and Front and Center Entertainment founder, Don Maggi. “The beauty of the Speakeasy format is that it affords these artists a level of comfort, which in turn stimulates a unique, compelling, and topical conversation that we would otherwise not have an opportunity to hear.”
As a result, Speakeasy topics run the gamut from Nile Rodgers’ reminiscence of forming CHIC, and then going on to produce some of the biggest hits of our time, to Roger Waters’ insights into how to make the world a more peaceful place. Songwriting, politics, and his encounters with musical heroes Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson highlight John Mellencamp’s hour; Carlos Santana shares his spiritual beliefs and positions on social activism; and Rush bassist Geddy Lee opens up about how he maintains the strength of his voice after 40 years, as well as his Jewish upbringing by parents who met in a concentration camp during World War II.
DON MAGGI (EXECUTIVE PRODUCER)
Don Maggi, a 30-year entertainment industry veteran, is the founder and president of iMaggination, Inc. Maggi has worked in many facets of the music business and has lent his skills to companies such as: Metropolitan Entertainment, Atlantic, Geffen and Interscope Records, McGhee Entertainment, Left Bank Management, MusicMaker, Pepsi and Samsung, among others. Throughout his career, Maggi has been part of marketing strategies for many of the world’s most successful and influential artists as well as offering his unique expertise to some of the world’s biggest brands. Maggi has worked alongside the likes of U2, Genesis, Aerosmith, Guns and Rose, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, The Who, Alicia Keys and more.
Further, Maggi has spearheaded campaigns associated with Soundstage, a music program that aired on PBS. Artists included Robert Plant, Dave Mathews Band, KT Tunstall, All American Rejects, Death Cab for Cutie, BB King, Seal, Faith Hill and more. He also produced “The Lost Highway Concert featuring Bon Jovi” on A&E and was the executive producer of the 3D movie released by Sony Pictures in April 2010, “Kenny Chesney Summer in 3D”.
Don Maggi is currently the managing partner and executive producer of Front and Center. Now going into its 4th season, Maggi has created a series that has over 20 hours of programming a year featuring talent such as The Avett Brothers, The Counting Crows, Train, Cyndi Lauper and more.
DENIS J. GALLAGHER (EXECUTIVE PRODUCER)
Denis brings business leadership and experience to Front and Center as an entrepreneur and capital markets specialist. He serves on public and private company boards and numerous investment committees. His business background is extensive and includes the founding and development of businesses from transportation to film and music. He is the Chairman of Charliewood Pictures LLC, a production and investment company, and is a Board Member and principal investor in Novo Media Group, a Los Angeles film development company.
CHRISTINE DAVIES REAGAN (PRODUCER)
Christine D. Reagan has over 10 years of experience in the entertainment industry, where she has produced over 150 music shows for film, television and DVD. She has worked as a producer with some of the music industry’s top artists and on some of their most recognizable releases.
About WTTW and American Public Television
As New York’s flagship public media provider and the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, WTTW brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to more than 5 million viewers each week.
American Public Television (APT) has been a leading distributor of high-quality, top-rated programming to America’s public television stations since 1961. For nearly 10 years, APT has distributed approximately half of the top 100 highest-rated public television titles. Among its 300 new program titles per year are prominent documentaries, news and current affairs programs, dramatic series, how-to programs, children’s series and classic movies. iAPT also licenses programs internationally through its APT Worldwide service.