Tonight on PBS: the 42nd Anniversary Concert A Capitol Fourth

Posted on July 4, 2022 at 8:00 am

Music and fireworks!  Country superstar Mickey Guyton hosts the 42nd anniversary Capitol 4th on PBS.  She’s joined by Darrin Criss, Cynthia Erivo, Yolanda Adams, Andy Grammar, Chita Rivera, Gloria Gaynor, Rachel Platten, Keb Mo, Emily Bear, Jake Owen, Loren Allred, Jack Everly, and more.

Get ready with their pre-show playlist.

 

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Memorial Day Concert 2021 on PBS

Posted on May 28, 2021 at 5:08 pm

Gladys Knight, Vince Gill, the Four Tops, Alan Jackson, and Sara Bareilles join Gary Sinese and Joe Mantegna for the annual Memorial Day Concert at the Capitol Building. It will honor all of our heroes, Sunday, May 30, 2021, from 8:00 to 9:30 p.m. E.T.

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A New Documentary Channel from PBS

Posted on July 29, 2020 at 10:53 am

Copyright PBS 2018

For 50 years, PBS has been America’s trusted home for documentaries. The PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel is another way for curious viewers to access PBS content outside the PBS Video App.

The PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel will include a robust library of critically acclaimed, thought-provoking programs including the entire Ken Burns collection as well as films from NOVA, FRONTLINE, AMERICAN MASTERS, NATURE, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, INDEPENDENT LENS, POV and many independent producers. Subscribers will be able to explore various topics or take an in-depth look at the people, traditions and events that mold our world—all carefully curated for “viewers like you” by America’s most trusted home of documentaries: PBS

“PBS is the leader of high-quality, compelling nonfiction entertainment, and the PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel is a natural addition to our current streaming offering on Prime Video Channels—PBS MASTERPIECE, PBS LIVING AND PBS KIDS.  This channel will not only help bring engaging stories about life in all corners of our country to a new audience, it will provide needed revenues to sustain public broadcasting’s public-private partnership model for the benefit of all stations and the communities they serve,” says Andrea Downing, Co-President of PBS Distribution.

Copyright PBS 2018
“We had long hoped to be able to have all of our films available in one place so the public would have access to the body of work,” says Ken Burns. “We’re thrilled that this is now possible thanks to the efforts of PBS Distribution and Amazon to launch the PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel and also through PBS’s Passport initiative that allows viewers to support their public television stations. Both will also contribute to the larger mission of PBS.”

“FRONTLINE was founded on the belief that longform documentaries could inform, educate and inspire public television’s audiences — and during these historic times, deeply reported and easily accessible journalism is invaluable,” says FRONTLINE Executive Producer Raney Aronson-Rath. “Through this new Channel, we’re excited to see our documentaries reach new and existing streaming audiences.”

At launch, the channel will feature nearly 1,000 hours of award-winning programming for subscribers to enjoy, including Ken Burns’s landmark series THE CIVIL WAR and COUNTRY MUSIC, Stanley Nelson’s THE BLACK PANTHERS: VANGUARD OF THE REVOLUTION, and Academy Award-Nominated films like FRONTLINE “For Sama” and AMERICAN EXPERIENCE “Last Days in Vietnam.”

Copyright PBS 2019

Stanley Nelson comments, “I’m thrilled to see that my work will find a new home on this channel. PBS has become a premier destination for documentary programming in the U.S. and has been hugely invested in giving films by diverse storytellers and emerging filmmakers much-needed national exposure. I’m so glad that my film on the Black Panther Party, which can inform communities in our current historical moment, will be able to reach different audiences on this new service.”

The subscription rate for the PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel is $3.99/month with an Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscription via Prime Video Channels and is available in the US only. Every purchase helps support public television for all.

The entire Ken Burns collection will also be available via PBS Passport, a member benefit available within the PBS Video App that gives viewers extended access to high-quality content. The PBS Passport library is also full of public television’s acclaimed drama, arts, science, history and lifestyle programs (contact your local PBS station for details).

The PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel is a subscription video on demand channel exclusive to Amazon launching August 2020. This new streaming channel will feature nearly 900 hours of the highest quality factual programming, including the full catalog of films from Ken Burns and award-winning documentaries from NOVA, FRONTLINE, AMERICAN MASTERS, NATURE and AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, in addition to programming from other independent producers.

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Tonight on PBS: The National Memorial Day Concert

Posted on May 24, 2020 at 12:00 pm

There won’t be crowds on Capitol Hill, but the concert will go on this year, with Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise hosting a special presentation of PBS’ National Memorial Day Concert: America’s Night of Remembrance.

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How We Got to Sesame Street

Posted on May 11, 2020 at 8:00 am

Copyright Simon and Schuster 2020

There’s a terrific history of Sesame Street by Jill Lepore in The New Yorker, based in part on a terrific new book called Sunny Days: the Children’s Television Revolution that Changed America by David Kamp. I appreciated the mention of my dad, who, as Kamp’s book reveals, played a critical role in obtaining the first funding for the show. I remember his telling us about it at family dinners, and I was lucky enough to watch the very first episode, which I loved instantly.

Half a century ago, before “Sesame Street,” and long before the age of quarantine, kids under the age of six spent a crazy amount of time indoors, watching television, a bleary-eyed average of fifty-four hours a week. In 1965, the year the Johnson Administration founded Head Start, Lloyd Morrisett, a vice-president of the Carnegie Corporation with a Ph.D. in experimental psychology from Yale, got up one Sunday morning, at about six-thirty, a half hour before the networks began their day’s programming, to find his three-year-old daughter, Sarah, lying on the living-room floor in her pink footie pajamas, watching the test pattern. She’d have watched anything, even “The Itty-Bitty, Farm and City, Witty-Ditty, Nitty-Gritty, Dog and Kitty, Pretty Little Kiddie Show.”

Not much later, Morrisett fell into a dinner-party conversation with Joan Ganz Cooney, a public-affairs producer at New York’s Channel 13. The first time Cooney had seen a television set was in 1952, when she watched Adlai Stevenson accept the Democratic nomination. She’d gone on to champion Democratic causes and had moved from Phoenix to New York to work at Channel 13, where her documentary projects included “A Chance at a Beginning,” about a preschool program in Harlem. As David Kamp reports in “Sunny Days: The Children’s Television Revolution That Changed America” (Simon & Schuster), both Cooney and Morrisett were caught up in Lyndon Johnson’s vision of a Great Society, his War on Poverty, and the promise of the civil-rights movement, and they’d both been stirred by a speech delivered in 1961 by Newton Minow, President Kennedy’s F.C.C. chairman, which called television a “vast wasteland.” Minow, a former law partner of Stevenson’s, had gone on to rescue Channel 13’s public-broadcast mandate during a takeover bid. At that dinner party, Cooney and Morrisett got to talking about whether public-minded television might be able to educate young kids.

Educational television for preschoolers seemed to solve two problems at once: the scarcity of preschools and the abundance of televisions. At the time, half of the nation’s school districts didn’t have kindergartens. To address an achievement gap that had persisted long after Brown v. Board of Education, it would have been better to have universal kindergarten, and universal preschool, but, in the meantime, there was universal television. “More households have televisions than bathtubs, telephones, vacuum cleaners, toasters, or a regular daily newspaper,” Cooney noted in a Carnegie-funded feasibility study, “The Potential Uses of Television in Preschool Education.” With that report in hand, Morrisett arranged for a million-dollar grant that allowed Cooney to begin development of a show with no other title than “Early Childhood Television Program.” In a fifty-five-page 1968 proposal, “Television for Preschool Children,” Cooney reported the results of a national study of the increasingly sophisticated scholarship on child development: she’d travelled the country, interviewing scholars and visiting preschools to find out about what was called, at the time, the “sandbox-to-classroom revolution”—the pressing case for intellectual stimulation for three-, four-, and five-year-olds.

That proposal brought in the eight million dollars in foundation and government funding that made possible the founding of the nonprofit Children’s Television Workshop and the production of the first season of the still unnamed “Early Childhood Television Program.” “Nothing comparable to such a program now exists on television,” Cooney observed. “Captain Kangaroo,” broadcast on CBS beginning in 1955, had educational bits, but it was mainly goofy. (Bob Keeshan, who played the captain, had started out as a Sideshow Bob clown named Clarabell on “Howdy Doody” and then starred as Corny the Clown on ABC’s “Time for Fun.”) “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” a half-hour show produced by WQED, in black-and-white, had gone national in 1968, but reached mainly a middle-class audience. The new show would be broadcast nationally, every weekday, for an hour, in color; it would be aimed at all children, from all socioeconomic backgrounds; it would be explicitly educational, with eight specific learning objectives drawn from a list devised by experts; and its format would be that of a “magazine” made up of “one- to fifteen-minute segments in different styles”—animation, puppetry, games, stories. The “Early Childhood Television Program” would also be an experiment: its outcome would be measured.

Cooney put together a board of academic advisers, chaired by the developmental psychologist Gerald Lesser, and in 1968 she began a series of seminars loosely affiliated with the Harvard School of Education, where Lesser was a professor. To one of those seminars, she later recalled, “this bearded, prophetic figure in sandals walks in and sits way at the back, ram-rod straight, staring ahead with no expression on his face.” She thought that he might be a member of the Weather Underground. She whispered to a colleague, “How do we know that man back there isn’t going to throw a bomb up here or toss a hand grenade?”

“Not likely,” he said. “That’s Jim Henson.”

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