Interview with Nathan Masters, Host and Producer of KCET’s Lost L.A

Writer and producer Nathan Masters work has appeared in numerous outlets. He is also working with public school systems to bring Lost L.A. and Southern California’s lost history into public schools with content and teaching tools.

Masters produces and hosts the KCET Emmy Award winning series Lost L.A. The series explores how artifacts housed in USC libraries tell stories about Southern California’s past.  Now in its’ 4th season, this season will feature Griffith Park, Manzanar, Los Angeles’ prohibition tunnels, architect Paul Revere Williams, the Shindana Toy Company and the Mount Wilson Observatory.

 

Why is it important to preserve and educate about L.A.’s unknown history?

One of the stereotypes is that Las Angeles and the surrounding area have no history and that this metropolis sprang up with the film industry. In fact, L.A. and Southern California has thousands of years of history still relevant today. Providing these stories gives people a better sense of where we’ve been, who we are today and where we are going in the future.

What can you tell me about season 4 of Lost L.A.?

This season is all over the map in terms of geography.  We start off in Griffith Park.  Then in Manzanar where there was a Japanese internment camp. The L.A. underground where there are the remains of bootlegging tunnels.  We go to LAX to look at the architecture of Paul Revere Williams. The stories in all the episodes are built around items I find in archives.

Can you me about the prohibition tunnels?

That was a really fun episode. We go below grown in downtown L.A. to the tunnels used by bootleggers.  You can still see paint on the walls. It is very cool to be down there. These are the tunnels that moved liquor during the prohibition.  The police and government officials were ripe with corruption, so power was in the hands of the criminal syndicate; takeaway is that bootleggers didn’t need to use the tunnels; but they did.

What episode from this season is your favorite?

I really liked the Discovering the Universe episode. This is one of the most important stories in the history of science.  Most people thought the universe did not extend beyond the Milky Way galaxy. In 1923, Edwin Hubble, working with the world’s most powerful telescope in the mountains high above Los Angeles, discovered just how vast the universe truly is.

The Three Views of Manzanar episode (about Japanese incarceration camps) is just as relevant in today’s social political atmosphere as in WWII.  This is a great example of how the past remains a relevant example of civil injustice. We want to remind people of the consequences of letting bigotry get in way of humanity and justice.

Who decides which stories are to be told on Lost L.A.?

I do have some input but, it’s not up to me alone.  We spit ball what stories we want to tell (stories) that we think will resonate with our audience. The key is finding an object to unlock the story.  An example is the Ansel Adams picture of Japanese playing baseball in Manzanar.  I found that photo and it started my journey.

 

Season 4 of Lost L.A. premiered on Tuesday, October 15. New episodes air every Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. on KCET. Encores air on Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m.  You can also catch episodes of this and other great KCET series on their website KCET.org.

Post Author: Brenda Clemons

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