Best TV Show of the Fall: The Roosevelts on PBS

Posted on September 8, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Passion, betrayal, unprecedented power, triumph, failure, devastating loss, personal and professional turmoil, and triumph again, played out against the most tumultuous events of the 20th century — that is the real-life story of the Roosevelts, especially the two who served as President, Theodore and Franklin, and Franklin’s cousin, wife, and first lady, Eleanor.  Ken Burns, the foremost documentary historian of all time, has produced “The Roosevelts,” premiering on PBS September 14, 2014, featuring the voices of Meryl Streep, Edward Herrmann (who memorably played Franklin Roosevelt in two made-for TV movies),Paul Giamatti, and Peter Coyote.  Three fascinating personalities who shaped our era are portrayed in seven mesmerizing episodes, covering the creation of National Parks, the digging of the Panama Canal, the passage of innovative New Deal programs, the defeat of Hitler, and the postwar struggles for civil rights at home and human rights abroad. 

A sickly boy became the essence of vigor and energy.  No one ever engaged in the world with more passionate, joyous intensity.

A brash young father struggles to recover from the devastating effects of polio.

These were three aristocrats who fought for the people.

Make time to watch this with your family.  It’s the best series of the fall. Next week, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History will also be available on DVD and Blu-Ray.

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Documentary Movie Mom’s Top Picks for Families Television

Celebrate Presidents on Election Day

Posted on November 6, 2012 at 8:00 am

After you vote, take a break from red and blue maps to enjoy some of the portrayals of real US Presidents on screen.  This week, the second 2012 movie about our 16th President opens — Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” starring Daniel Day-Lewis.  And we’ll see another movie about a real President later this month when Bill Murray plays Franklin Roosevelt in “Hyde Park on the Hudson.”

I’ve already written about some of the many other movie versions of Lincoln’s life.  “Wilson” stars Oscar nominee Alexander Knox in a dignified tribute to the 29th President. Gary Sinese gave a powerful performance in the HBO movie, Truman. Rough Riders has Tom Berenger as Theodore Roosevelt, leading Cuban rebels against Spain.

Perhaps the most fanciful portrayal of a real US President is “The Remarkable Andrew,” with William Holden as an honorable accountant who discovers a discrepancy in the town books and is visited by the ghost of his favorite President, Andrew Jackson (Brian Donlevy), who provides guidance and support. According to TIME Magazine, Lincoln has been portrayed most frequently on screen but perhaps the President most memorable on film is Franklin Roosevelt, the only man to be elected four times, with Sunrise At Campobello, Eleanor and Franklin and its sequel, Warm Springs, and, of course, Annie!  (TIME notes that the only US President never to show up as a character in a movie is Warren G. Harding.)

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