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August 18, 2017

Meet Cristiana Lombardo

As the Production Coordinator for American Masters, Cristiana Lombardo supports the series staff and documentary filmmakers in various stages of production. Primarily, her role is to provide administrative support to Executive Producer Michael Kantor and Senior Producers Julie Sacks and Junko Tsunashima. “As a production unit, our days are often unpredictable. In addition to assisting our collaborating teams, I’ve helped coordinate major events and screenings, contributed to NEH grant applications and even organized the private publication of an American Masters anniversary book,” Cristiana says. Read on to learn about some of Cristiana’s favorite American Masters films, her surprise photo op with Antiques Roadshow appraiser Leigh Keno, and more.

Cristiana Lombardo

How has American Masters evolved since you first started working at WNET?

In the past year and a half, I’ve seen the series undergo a complete rebrand, celebrate its 30th anniversary and two Emmy® nominations, and broadcast diverse episodes like Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You, Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise, and the four-program American Masters Chefs Flight. Most recently, I’ve had the pleasure of illustrating artwork for the American Masters Podcast, produced by Joe Skinner; Season 2 on “Revolutionary Writers” launched this week!

What is your background, and how did you land at WNET?

I graduated from Hunter College with a triple major in English, Film and Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Political Science. Due to the financial climate when I graduated high school, I intended on a degree in nursing. Sometime between Anatomy & Physiology, I missed the days where I could be more creative. It had always been a fantasy of mine to pursue a career in writing or entertainment, so I switched to an English and Film degree. Subsequently, I was invited to the Thomas Hunter Honors Program, where I was able to broaden my scope of study through interdisciplinary courses.

I interned throughout college, including: THIRTEEN’s own Reel 13, the Dramatists Guild, Post Factory NY, The Rachael Ray Show, The Serch Show, and NBC 4 New York. My senior year, I was hired as a freelance field PA for The Rachael Ray Show.

After I returned from post-graduation travels, Great Performances Lynn Cohen kindly suggested I apply for this position with American Masters. I was interested, not only because of the series’ longevity and prolific library, but because of how welcoming the team was during my interview.

Thank you, Lynn!

Do you have a favorite American Masters film or is there an upcoming one you’re particularly excited about?

Perhaps predictably, I’m excited for Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive (airs October 30th). When I was maturing out of Goosebumps, my Mom bought me an anthology of Poe’s work. That book introduced me to an entire new world of literature, language, and gothic storytelling that has stayed with me since.

Season 2 of the American Masters podcast launches with playwright Susan-Lori Parks — and Cristiana’s fantastic illustrations.

I also like Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, which will have a limited theatrical release before broadcast sometime next year. It’s a captivating exploration of the woman (and mind) behind one of old Hollywood’s most glamourous figures.

For our Media with Impact campaign, we’ve been asking viewers to share stories describing how THIRTEEN has influenced their life. How has THIRTEEN (or the PBS station of your childhood) inspired you?

I grew up on all the classic 90’s THIRTEEN children’s programming, but Arthur was always my favorite. I just love the spirit of that series – it’s a wonderful kind of day, hey!

I also have fond memories of Lambchop’s Sing-Along and the The Joy of Painting. I distinctly remember how upset I was when Shari Lewis passed away. It was really the first time I’d even considered the reality of death.

Which three shows airing on our stations this month are you most likely to watch, stream, or record?

I watch Antiques Roadshow every Monday night. I spotted Leigh Keno at the bank once and forced him to take a photo with me.

Cristiana and Antiques Roadshow appraiser Leigh Keno

Next would be the re-broadcast of Great Performances’ Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy. In high school, I took a class in musical theater. The majority of it featured a certain Broadway: The American Musical series created by Michael Kantor. Never would I have thought that I’d be working with its creator! I’d also like to see Ken Burns’ Roosevelts series.

Where do you live, and what are some of your favorite places in your neighborhood?

I just left the city to move back to Westchester. If I had to pick my favorite place, it would be Rye Playland. It’s a gorgeous art deco amusement park, with many of the original rides still preserved and running. You might recognize the boardwalk from Big (1988) or the Dragon Coaster from Fatal Attraction (1987). My Mom also went there as a child, so I think I have the kind of generational affection that people might feel for Disney World. In addition to one of the oldest wooden roller coasters in the United States, it features an old-fashioned “Nursery Rhyme” theme (think Babes in Toyland) and two stellar “dark ride” haunted houses. It’s just one of those rare places that hasn’t changed with time – full of nostalgia, antiquity and even a little bit of creepiness.

What book are you currently reading?

I’m reading Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s memoir, Wind, Sand and Stars. A sort of spiritual sequel to The Little Prince, Saint-Exupéry describes flying the way Hemingway speaks of bullfighting. It’s the kind of book that makes you long to be an aviator, or if anything, captures how it feels to be inspired. Now that I think about it, it’s the exact book I’d imagine Snoopy would read on a dark and stormy night!

Do you have a special interest or hobby outside of work? If so, tell us about it!

I run an online store selling vintage jewelry and accessories on Etsy. I’m pretty much addicted to the “hunt,” and what began as a way to earn tuition has evolved into my favorite pastime. I’ve spent countless hours educating myself in precious metals, gemstones, vintage fashion, and appraisal. This month, some interesting treasures were a Tiffany vase, a pristine set of Royal Vienna demitasse cups, and an Omega watch, but my favorite find might be my vintage THIRTEEN tote!


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