Elaine May to direct Mike Nichols documentary

Elaine May and Mike Nichols

Elaine May and Mike Nichols

The legendary Mike Nichols will be the subject of an upcoming “American Masters” documentary directed by his former creative partner, Elaine May.

Exploring Nichols’ life and 50-year career as a trailblazing performer and Oscar-winning director, “American Masters: Mike Nichols” will kick off the 30th anniversary season of the acclaimed PBS series on January 29.

Chicago figured prominently in Nichols' rise to fame. While a student at the University of Chicago in the 1950s, he joined the Compass Players (precursor to The Second City) and worked as an announcer at fledgling classical music station WFMT FM 98.7. At U. of C. he also met May, forming a phenomenally popular and influential comedy team that produced a hit Broadway show and a Grammy-winning album. The duo split in 1961.

Nichols was interviewed for the two-hour documentary before his death at 83 last November by producer Julian Schlossberg. Others reflecting on Nichols’ legacy include Meryl Streep, Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Dustin Hoffman, Alec Baldwin, Paul Simon, Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane.

Also featured will be highlights from Nichols' films, including "The Graduate," "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?," "Catch 22," "Silkwood," "Biloxi Blues," "Working Girl," "Angels In America" and "Charlie Wilson's War," as well as his theatrical productions "Barefoot in the Park," "Luv" and "The Odd Couple."

"Producing this special was a labor of love. Working with Elaine May was a nightmare," Schlossberg joked in a statement Monday. Said May: ”Julian Schlossberg was very nice and he really seemed to like me.”

"Elaine and Julian can joke about each other because they've known each other 40 years, and their work together has been so successful,” Michael Kantor, executive producer of "American Masters," said in a statement. “What seems to unite them in both humor and friendship is a deep love and respect for Mike Nichols and his legacy. They are the perfect team for this documentary."