General Motors drops Ken Burns
by Danny Gallagher, posted Mar 10th 2009 11:30AM
General Motors has made a lot of dumb decisions in their day, and three-quarters of them are still being sold to gullible car-buyers across the globe.
However, one of their biggest, boneheaded moves doesn't involve a car at all. The soon-to-be-former car manufacturing giant has announced that it's ending its 22-year run as primary sponsor for PBS filmmaker Ken Burns, and it just might end Burns' career in television as we know it.
GM was more than just a sponsor for Burns and his wonderful films. GM was his reason for existence.
The car company provided millions of dollars as an underwriter for his films, starting with The Civil War and running all the way to the absolutely brilliant The War. Without GM, it would be hard to find someone with an extra $2 million lying around that they wouldn't need or feel safer keeping buried in a jar in the backyard.
The move also spells doom for PBS. Burns' documentaries are among their highest rated programs, and it would be hard to pull in equal numbers without him. The director is as well known as his movies because of the style he invented and the attention to detail he has for his subjects. The man has a visual film effect named after him. The only thing GM has named after them is a crappy electric car that even Al Gore wouldn't drive.
I, for one, hope the unthinkable won't happen, and that 10 years from now when Burns is chronicling the second Great Depression, he'll have the last laugh when his film The Recession features the collapse of GM.