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TCA Press Tour: Yoko Ono promises that we don't know everything about John Lennon...yet

August 5, 2010 |  8:05 pm

Looking striking and tiny in her rakish fedora and trademark sunglasses, Yoko Ono spoke to journalists at the television critics press tour about the upcoming “American Masters” film “LennonNYC,” which will premiere Nov. 22 on PBS.

“Yes, it seems like you know everything about us. I thought so too,” Ono said. But when she saw the footage being pulled together by the producers of the movie, she was shocked by how much she hadn’t seen before -- or even known was being filmed at the time. Ono cooperated fully with the production, which executive producer Susan Lacy said will feature music and images that have never been public before before, such as recordings from four or five unheard sessions and home movies only recently transferred to video.

As the title makes clear, “LennonNYC” focuses on the years the couple spent in Manhattan. He loved the city, Ono explained, because people treated him like a human being there -- unlike in London, where “everyone hated John for being with me.” She recalled coming in or out a police station in London with her very long hair “and some girl was pulling it. That’s how it was there.”

Asked why she hadn’t released all of Lennon’s unfinished songs, she said, “Some of the songs could not be out there because John just played it on the piano at home, and I thought if I just put it out there it would be slashed by the critics.... Many people say we want anything. And I say, maybe you want anything but John didn’t want you to have anything. He was a very astute artist and perfectionist.”

Ono noted that “American Masters” has a reputation for thoroughness and intense research, and she seemed delighted with the film’s determination to show Lennon as a three-dimensional person rather than a cliched icon. (“He was actually screamingly funny,” executive producer Lacy said.) Ono also sounded satisfied with the narrow focus on the New York years, when Lennon was raising their son Sean and finding his way back into the recording studio to make “Double Fantasy” with Ono.

It was a “city he loved so much, but it killed him," she said. "I can see that would happen to people, but I didn’t know that it would happen and he didn’t either. It was his love and it was his death.”

In response to the obligatory question about what Lennon would make of the Internet and Twitter, Ono responded earnestly: “I’m sure he would have used his computer to send his message to the world.”

-- Joy Press