- Associated Press - Monday, January 20, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) - After making headlines with his book and movie about J.D. Salinger, Shane Salerno is ready for his final stop: the director’s cut on PBS.

On Tuesday night, PBS stations will air the third piece of the deal Salerno reached last year for a feature documentary, book and TV documentary about the late author of “The Catcher in the Rye.” The PBS edition of “Salinger” runs 135 minutes, 15 minutes longer than the film released in theaters in September, and serves as the 200th installment of the “American Masters” series.

Salerno’s movie and book, co-authored by David Shields, caught the attention of the literary world by providing extensive details of at least five possible new Salinger works, from more stories about the fictional Glass family to further reports on “Catcher” narrator Holden Caulfield. (Salinger’s publisher, Little, Brown and Company, has declined comment).

Salerno’s project, which he worked on for a decade, also included numerous photographs of Salinger that had never been published; the fullest account ever of his service in World War II; and the first-ever interviews with a woman, Jean Miller, with whom Salinger formed an intense bond while she was a teen and he in his early 30s. The author drew upon their relationship for his short story “For Esme - With Love and Squalor.”

Salerno, who besides “Salinger” has been busy working with James Cameron on the screenplay for the next “Avatar” movie, recently answered a few questions via email.

____

Q: The PBS edition of “Salinger” is 15 minutes longer than the theatrical release. What are the major changes?

A: There are a few surprises I want to keep under wraps but here are some major changes:

There is important new World War II material, including an extended version of Salinger’s first day of combat, which was D-Day, and other brutal battles that forged him. World War II is critical to understanding Salinger. It was the transformative trauma of his life and is the ghost in the machine of all of Salinger’s stories.

There is a pivotal new relationship with a 16-year-old girl, which was a consistent pattern in Salinger’s life, and viewers will learn how a betrayal in that relationship served as the first brick in the wall of silence Salinger built. One of the key participants speaks for the first time.

The changes run throughout the film and provide a deeper understanding of Salinger.

___

Q: Why make a different version for PBS?

A: When we sold the project we announced that we were exploring a longer version for “American Masters.” The film finished in the top 10 highest grossing documentaries of the year, the book (published by Simon & Schuster) was a New York Times best seller and the film has had a very successful run on Netflix, so I didn’t want the “American Masters” broadcast to be simply a television re-airing of what has already been seen.

___

Story Continues →