Downton Abbey returns to American TV screens this Sunday. Since many Americans have become fascinated with the intricate social dances featured in the English drama/soap, Grantland feels there's an opportunity to provide them a lesson about the equally intricate plot machinations associated with the English Premier League. I give you the "English Premier League to Downton Abbey plot converter." [more inside]
Tired of cranky commentary about U.S. government spending? Maybe it needs more sequins. Or a ballet. Or Ray Bradbury. Ladies and gentlemen, Stan Freberg presents "The Federal Budget Revue" (part 1; part 2; part 3). [more inside]
According to the Sacramento Bee, Huell Howser is retiring. Best known for his public television show, California's Gold and his boundless enthusiasm, Mr. Howser is "retiring from filming new shows or making appearances."
Kevin Clash has resigned from Sesame Street as his first accuser retracts his retraction and a second accuser emerges. Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon says this can't kill Elmo. Previously, and previously, alas.
The cosmos is also within us, we're made of star-stuff. We are a way for the cosmos, to know itself.
Cosmos: A Personal Voyage is a thirteen-part television series of one hour shows written by Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, and Steven Soter, that was aired at the tail end of 1980 and was - at the time - the most widely watched series in the history of American public television. It is best introduced by an audio excerpt of one of his books, The Pale Blue Dot. Inside is a complete annotated collection of the series. [more inside]
Bishop Gene Robinson speaks at First Presbyterian Church in NYC in 2009 on the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, and offers (and challenges church goers to offer) water to Gay Pride parade participants as part of his ministry. [5m19s] [more inside]
The Choice 2012 is a Frontline documentary about the background of the current candidates for President of the United States.
Flipping through public access or PBS channels one might have seen Classic Arts Showcase with it's familiar ARTS bug. The 24-hour non-commercial free-to-air satellite channel broadcasts a repeated 8-hour mix of about 150 video clips weekly a mix of various classic arts including animation, architectural art, ballet, chamber, choral music, dance, folk art, museum art, musical theater, opera, orchestral, recital, solo instrumental, solo vocal, and theatrical play, as well as classic film and archival documentaries. The channel has no VJs and only silent interstitials encouraging the viewer to “...go out and feast from the buffet of arts available in your community.” [more inside]
Can playing Dungeons & Dragons make you a more confident and successful person? The PBS Idea Channel posits that playing pen-and-paper role-playing games helps to develop valuable life skills such as problem solving, people management, and abstract thinking.
In February, PBS and AOL launched Makers, a video archive containing personal stories and anecdotes told in the first person by women, many of whom have sparked groundbreaking changes in American culture. [more inside]
Next week, for the first time in 22 years, PBS will televise the four dramas of Richard Wagner's Ring cycle on consecutive nights - a rare opportunity to encounter in the manner intended "the most ambitious and most profound work of art ever created". [more inside]
The Evolution Documentary channel (autoplays video) has collected documentaries and clips about evolution available on youtube, including documentaries from BBC, Nova, and National Geographic. [more inside]
Bob Dylan famously "went electric" at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965. 47 years later, experts believe a woman in New Jersey has the guitar the Dylan played on stage that day. [more inside]
In 1984, The Voyage of the Mimi set sail on PBS, exploring the ocean off the coast of Massachusetts to study humpback whales. The educational series was made up of thirteen episodes intended to teach middle schoolers about science and math. The first fifteen minutes of each episode were a fictional adventure starring a young Ben Affleck. The second 15 minutes were an "expedition documentary" that would explore the scientific concepts behind the show's plot points. A sequel with the same format, The Second Voyage of the Mimi aired in 1988, and featured the crew of the Mimi exploring Mayan ruins in Mexico. [more inside]
Murdoch's Scandal - Lowell Bergman (the journalist portrayed by Al Pacino in The Insider) has investigated News Corporation for PBS Frontline [transcript]. He depicts Rupert Murdoch's British operation as a criminal enterprise, routinely hacking the voicemail and computers of innocent people, and using bribery and coercion to infiltrate police and government over decades. Enemies are ruthlessly "monstered" by the tabloids. Bergman also spoke to NPR's Fresh Air [transcript]. But the hits keep coming: in recent days News Corp has been accused of hacking rival pay TV services and promoting pirated receiver cards in both the UK and Australia. With the looming possibility of prosecution under America's Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, how long will shareholders consider Rupert Murdoch irreplaceable? [Previous 1 2 3 4]
But this season, PBS chose to move Independent Lens and P.O.V. to a new time slot -- 10 pm, ET, on Thursday nights. This may not seem like such a big deal at first, until you know that on Thursday nights stations can broadcast any program they like in prime time, whether it's part of the PBS schedule or not. Many take the opportunity to offers viewers locally produced programs, British sitcoms or reruns of Antiques Roadshow. As a result, episodes of the independent documentary series can now be run anywhere local stations choose to fit them in (here in New York, WNET airs the films at 11 p.m. on Sundays) or maybe not at all.Bill Moyers writes an open letter to PBS about scheduling changes which have ruined PBS as Tuesday night destination for documentary television.
The first episode of the second season of PBS Arts web-original series Off Book is Animated GIFs: The Birth of a Medium (mini-documentary, ~7 min). "OFF BOOK explores cutting edge arts and the artists that make it. Breaking the mold of the definition of art, OFF BOOK explores the avant-garde, the experimental and the underground artforms that are supported by online communities." [more inside]
Between February 27th and March 30th, PBS will be running the PBS Online Film Festival. The first four short films, in the Real Stories category, are now online. [more inside]
Tonight Frontline aired the documentary film "The Interrupters", the video is available on Frontline's website. On WTTW, Chicago's major PBS affiliate, a special "Chicago Tonight" followed the presentation. It featured a panel discussion with Violence Interrupters Ameena Matthews, Eddie Bocanegra, and Cobe Williams, an interview with the filmakers and an interview with former Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis and CeaseFire Director Tio Hardiman. [more inside]
Woody Allen: A Documentary (Part One, Part Two), a film by Robert Weide and part of the American Masters series on PBS, is now online. [more inside]
Bill Moyers has returned to broadcasting. His new weekly show, Moyers & Company, aired its first episode on many PBS stations last night with a half-hour interview with Jacob Hackler and Paul Pierson, authors of Winner-Take-All Politics, and a second half-hour examining Occupy Wall Street. The episode, and other video not included in the weekly episodes, will be available on his new website.
A few sketches aired during the original run of Monty Python were subsequently lost. Half an episode, the tenth of the third series, was censored by the BBC. All that survives is the script. Also, never shot, but written, was the King Brian the Wild scene from Holy Grail. Additionally, a few sketches were either slightly censored post-broadcast or erased for other reasons. A couple of those sketches have have been found on tape [Warning: Autoplaying video]. The two sketches are Political Choreographer (here with a short bit exhorting you to support Channel 11 in Chicago), and an interstitial animation by Terry Gilliam. Also, the uncensored Summarize Proust sketch.
Douglas Rushkoff examines how technology is changing us in “Life On The Virtual Frontier”; a fascinating episode of Frontline.
Gullah—the African-influenced dialect of Georgia’s Sea Islands—has undergone few changes since the first slave ships landed 300 years ago, and provides a clear window into the shaping of African-American English. This classic PBS program traces that story from the west coast of Africa through the American South, then to large northern cities in the 1920s. Studying the origins of West African pidgin English and creole speech—along with the tendency of 19th-century white Southerners to pick up speech habits from their black nursemaids—the program highlights the impact of WWI-era industrialization and the migration of jazz musicians to New York and Chicago.
Perhaps you've managed to see PJ20 during its limited stand in select theaters. Perhaps you'll watch it when it airs on PBS late next month. Either way, you might be interested in seeing the press conference with all five members of the band plus Cameron Crowe [20m32s], the director of the documentary, which took place after the premiere of the film at Toronto International Film Festival. The press conference is also available in downloadable audio format. [more inside]
Won't You Be My Neighbor? Mr. Rogers singing his immortal theme song "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" at different stages of the program's life from 1967 to 2000. So take your coat off, put on your sweater, and sing along.
Better This World is a documentary about two activists from Austin who joined a group heading to protest the 2008 Republican convention. Their problem was that they prepared molotov cocktails at the last minute, and one of their ring-leaders was an FBI informant. Legal nightmare ensues. Aired on PBS September 6, it can be viewed online until October 6.
In 1989, The Columbia University Seminars on Media and Society (later called the 'Fred Friendly Seminars') produced a ten-part series entitled Ethics in America, hosted by Fred W. Friendly [obit]. The show, which aired on PBS, featured prominent American thinkers of the time -- including psychologists, philosophers, doctors, lawyers, theologians, professors, business leaders, district attorneys, politicians, journalists, and a supreme court justice -- engaged in round-table debate concerning hypothetical ethical dilemmas. It was reprised in 2007 as Ethics in America II. Both incarnations [I; II] are viewable for free at Lerner.org, which describes the original version thus: This series uses the Socratic method to build analytical skills and examine ethical questions. The programs aim to sharpen moral reasoning without favoring a particular position by exploring ethical dilemmas in legal, political, medical, corporate, and military arenas. Panelists include Antonin Scalia, Faye Wattleton, and Peter Jennings. [more inside]
Starting tonight, Ebert Presents At the Movies will begin airing full episodes of Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert’s original PBS show, Sneak Previews. Taking a break from reviewing movies, co-hosts Christy Lemire and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky will introduce and discuss the episodes. Hungry for more classic Siskel & Ebert? Try the invaluable, Ebert-approved SiskelandEbert.org, a growing archive of home-taped episodes of Sneak Previews and At the Movies. [more inside]
"There are no national standards or regulations regarding forensic pathology and practices vary widely from place to place."
The Hardest Cases: When Children Die, Justice Can Be Elusive A joint investigation by PBS Frontline, ProPublica and NPR has found that medical examiners and coroners have repeatedly mishandled cases of infant and child deaths, helping to put innocent people behind bars. (Via. (Article contains descriptions of children that have been killed by abuse. May be disturbing / triggering to some readers.) [more inside]
The World of Jim Henson: 1 :: 2 :: 3 :: 4 :: 5 :: 6 :: 7 :: 8 :: 9 :: "An excellent biography of the Muppet master, this 85-minute film from the PBS show Great Performances mixes the history of Henson's projects with plenty of sketches that any fan age 6 and older should enjoy. The film shows the incredible range of Henson's creations, starting in 1955 with "Sam and Friends" then moving on to Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock, and beyond. It illustrates the breadth of his genius, from creating entirely new worlds in film (The Dark Crystal) to pithy '60s TV commercials that achieved branding and a laugh in less than six seconds. There's footage that most fans haven't seen in years, or at all: a regular bit from The Jimmy Dean Show; tantalizing bits of his 1965 Oscar-nominated short, Time Piece; appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and The Tonight Show; his explanation of Wall Street on Nightline; and Miss Piggy's hilarious deconstruction of Morley Safer on 60 Minutes."
Over the weekend, PBS' website was hacked by a group calling itself "The Lulz Boat", or "LulzSec". The PBS site displayed a story claiming that rapper Tupac Shakur was alive and well in New Zealand. (He's not). The hack was apparently over the Frontline program that aired last week, 'Wikisecrets', which Julian Assange called "hostile". This follows a separate, unrelated breach at Lockheed Martin, also publicized over the weekend. (Previously)
Last year U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning allegedly provided thousands of secret U.S. documents to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. He allegedly leaked the secret cables — "along with a controversial video — in the hope of inciting 'worldwide discussion, debates and reforms.' In preparing for its new investigative report, WikiSecrets (airing tonight), PBS Frontline "obtained access" to his Facebook account. "Manning's Facebook postings are a vivid, if partial, portrait of his life in the military and of the political and social issues that he followed closely. They reflect his commitment to gay rights and defiance of the military's ban on openly gay or lesbian soldiers. They track the anguish in his personal life. And they conclude with an entry, put up in Manning’s name by his aunt, explaining his arrest with a link to a WikiLeaks website."
Off The Charts: "In his wildest satirical dreams, not even Christopher Guest could top Off the Charts for sheer folk-art eccentricity. And yet, the creator of A Mighty Wind would find comedic inspiration in Jamie Meltzer's hilarious and sincerely affectionate tribute to the subcultural phenomenon known as the song poem. For over 50 years, a small, strictly amateur music industry has thrived on the fine-print ads that appear in alternative newspapers and music-industry magazines, inviting would-be songsmiths to send in their lyrics (and perhaps even "earn royalties") when their songs--and we use that term loosely--are set to music, recorded by seasoned musicians, and returned to their creators as a kind of one-shot fantasy fulfillment of dreams that will never come true. What drives Meltzer's film is a uniquely American combination of pathos, fringe-dwelling ambition, and free expression by assorted misfits and "regular folk" who seek elusive immortality by turning their lyrical musings into trash-art that's simultaneously fascinating and pathetic. But despite the end-credit claim that not a single hit has resulted from the estimated 200,000 song poems that have been recorded over the decades, Meltzer's not out to ridicule these wonderfully ungifted artists. Instead, Off the Charts gives a memorable spin to the flipside of the American dream. --Jeff Shannon" (PBS, 54mins.)
Why I Love Mr Rogers. Scott Jordan Harris discusses discovering Fred Rogers's show as an adult.
In 1969 banjo virtuoso and bluegrass innovator Earl Scruggs parted ways with his longtime musical partner Lester Flatt and the band they led to great popularity and acclaim, The Foggy Mountain Boys. Scruggs wanted to push his musical gifts as far as they could go. In 1970 he was the subject of a PBS documentary where he played with artists such as Bob Dylan, Doc Watson, The Morris Brothers, The Byrds, Charlie Daniels, Bill Monroe, Joan Baez, various friends and family members, and even records a track accompanying a Moog. You can watch the whole thing online: Earl Scruggs, His Family and Friends.
Is earlier interaction with technology creating new and different neurological structures in children’s brains? PBS has featured an interesting series of programs on just this question: one with Miles O’Brien, previously CNN’s science correspondent, who also talks to his kids about their use of tech. Digital Nation is a massive related site on Frontline exploring the ethnography of so-called "digital natives" that includes some interesting celebrity interviews; the site is the sequel to the earlier Growing Up Online [previously].
A letter arrived at Atlanta's PBS station yesterday, the recipient posted it to Reddit and within hours, PBS responded.
Since November 29th., 2010 Boston's PBS station WGBH has had an open call for video submissions that "best tell the story of gay rights in America today." "WGBH...which produces American Experience, is inviting 'citizen reporters, journalists, video-bloggers, documentary story tellers, animators or new media-makers' to create three-minute shorts on the Stonewall Riots and their 'legacy of courage.'"* One winning submission "may air along with the television debut of Stonewall Uprising on American Experience this spring." [more inside]
Still Life with Animated Dogs is a witty and candid cartoon by Paul Fierlinger, animator of Sesame Street's Teeny Little Super Guy, recounting his life from being a dissident artist in 1960s Czechoslovakia to being a successful animator in the US. He tells his lifestory by talking about the dogs he's owned over the years, Roosevelt, Ike, Johnson and Spinnaker. Warning: Something may get stuck in your eye.