Actress Jessica Harper Announces New Podcast Memoir: Winnetka
Jessica Harper today launched a new original podcast. Winnetka is a weekly ten-episode memoir. Narrated and with original music by Jessica Harper, the podcast features the voices of the Harper family, who share in the telling of their remarkable story.
Winnetka tells of the six Harper siblings coming of age in Eisenhower’s postwar America, in a Chicago suburb called Winnetka. It seems like an idyllic time and place, but the kids are buffeted by the rages of a father with PTSD, challenged by life in a big family, rocked by social change in the Sixties, and ultimately stunned by a long held secret about their ancestry.
The podcast’s aim is to connect listeners with a story that, while intensely personal, is also entirely universal, as it tells how a child’s life is impacted not only by the actions of her nuclear family, but by those of her forebears. The stories are told by the people who lived them, the Harper family, in their own voices. Specifically, listeners can expect:
- Candid stories from actress Jessica Harper, with topics ranging from her primal relationship with her twin brother to her first job in the Broadway cast of Hair.
- A colourful depiction of settings ranging from the country club culture in Winnetka, Illinois, to the mean streets of New York City .
- A whole range of characters from Jessica’s family, who hail from places as far flung as Alaska and Ireland, with siblings ranging from the blind, alcoholic minister to Hollywood screenwriter, famous for his big-family comedies.
What makes Winnetka unique is the combination of Harper’s expertise in storytelling, her candour about difficult life events, and the family members who, in each episode, offer their own takes on the events being recalled. Winnetka isn’t just a podcast, but a tale uplifted by the best blend of elements from audiobooks, memoir, and music. The mix of humour and pathos in this deeply felt story will resonate with all who listen.
“On the surface, Winnetka seemed as scenic and vibrant a home town as there ever was,” says Harper in Winnetka. “But sometimes that surface would crack, revealing darkness below. And it wasn’t until after my father’s death in ‘13 that I learned just how deep that darkness went.”
Harper began her acting career in the original Broadway cast of Hair. Her film work includes co-starring roles in Stardust Memories, Pennies From Heaven, My Favorite Year and cult hits Suspiria and Phantom of the Paradise. She won a Cable Ace Award for best actress on It’s Garry Shandling’s Show and has made numerous other TV appearances. She is currently appearing in Luca Guadagnino’s new version of Suspiria. She is the creator, producer and narrator of Winnetka. Harper is also the author of a dozen books for children and The Crabby Cook Cookbook (Workman Publishing). She has written songs for Bette Midler among others, and produced seven albums of music for children.
“Having acted toe-to-toe with Peter O’Toole and Max von Sydow and Julianne Moore, worked with auteurs at peak…and established herself as a recording artist, writer, and chef, Harper isn’t slowing down….” said The Ringer’s Scott Tobias. “Harper’s autodidactic impulses have led her to a beautiful ten-part memoir podcast called Winnetka.”
Global/DAX will distribute Winnetka everywhere starting on February 4, 2019, in association with The Podglomerate. The podcast series can be found here.