The phrase "single-issue campaigns, the decline of civil discourse and smear campaigns against presidential candidates" sounds like something you might hear on cable news these days, but that's how Ken Burns set the scene for his newest documentary 'Prohibition.'
Burns stopped by 'Good Day New York' (weekdays, 9AM ET on Fox) to preview the three-part documentary, which chronicles the rise and fall of the 18th Amendment.
The documentary filmmaker described American pre-prohibition drinking habits as an around-the-clock boozefest. "People had booze at breakfast ... the President of the United States John Adams would take a ladle-ful of hard cider," he said. In response, the Temperance Movement was born, which relied on the "insane idea that if you got rid of drink ... everything would be alright."
Yes, O'Donnell is heading to Chicago. "There is an enormous personal respect and value to that little bit of real estate to Oprah," Sheri Salata, president of Harpo Studios, told the Chicago Sun-Times. "I think it's safe to say they have an excellent relationship."
O'Donnell made the announcement to Harpo staffers via video.
The new series will be less celebrity-driven than O'Donnell's previous daytime gig. Instead, the series will tackle real issues that affect everyday people.
In other TV news ...
• 'Mad Men' won't be on TV until early 2012. Contract negotiations between AMC and creator Matt Weiner have broken down, forcing the delay in premiere. [Deadline]
• Ken Burns and Lynn Novick will take on 'Vietnam' in a new documentary. 'Vietnam' will be between 10 and 12 hours and broadcast in 2016. [Deadline]
• David O'Russell will guest star on 'Gossip Girl.' What will 'The 'Fighter' director be doing? Nobody knows ... yet. [Vulture]
Every major issue from this time period will be explored: the 1994 strike, steroids, 'Moneyball,' the shattering of home run records by Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds, the rise of the Yankees and Red Sox, the increased number of Latin players in the game, and the impact of Japanese stars like Ichiro Suzuki.
Bonds, as you'd expect, is the main character in this drama, and steroids are one of the biggest topics. When Burns and Novick presented the program to the TCA press tour in August, I sat with them to talk about the documentary and how tough it is to boil down an era that has alreday been covered and dissected more than any in the sport's history into four compelling hours. Let's just say that fans of the A's, Rays and Twins aren't going to be very happy.
According to USA Today, the two-part film picks up where 'Baseball' left off to examine the last 16 years of the sport, including the 1994 player strike and the rise of performance-enhancing drugs.
But this 'Inning' won't be a total downer. Burns said the film was strongly inspired by a desire to celebrate his beloved Boston Red Sox's 2004 World Series win.
Much like 'Baseball,' 'The Tenth Inning' will balance stories about the sport's darker days with a look at its resilience and enduring fan appeal.
Last night on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, the clever guys over there presented one of the funniest bits yet on the Jay Leno versus Conan O'Brien saga at NBC. Imagine, if you will, how Kevin Burns might document the conflagration...
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the network has announced that it will be signing up with Nielsen Ratings, providing a weekly -- but not daily -- outlook on its programs. This will be a first for the network, which launched back in 1970.
When you think about it, it's truly amazing how these natural wonders have become part of our lives, even if we've never been to them. Burns covers 150 years of the parks, starting with the concept in the mid-1800s and featuring the voices of Tom Hanks, Andy Garcia, Sam Waterston and others.
The cool thing about the DVD / Blu-ray sets is that you get three hours of bonus material, including a making-of featurette, Musical Journeys Through the National Parks, Contemporary Stories and Outtakes.
As one of our commenters below pointed out, this was announced awhile ago. But it was good to hear Burns talk a little about what they're going to explore in the new episode. So much has gone on in the last seventeen years, from exploding economics, new stadia, steroids, HGH, labor strife, and steroids (yes, I said steroids twice), that a tenth inning was inevitable. Unlike some of Burns' other series, which only go up to a point in history because anything after that would seem redundant -- the national parks doc, for instance, will only cover until 1980 -- Baseball was aching for an update.
Oh, and by the way, Burns' euphemism for the steroids issue was "exploring human frailties." Can't really reconcile Roger Clemens shooting 'roids into his butt with being frail, but whatever.
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.
Like who? Start with Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir. In the Ken Burns style, you can be sure to learn things about the parks that you never knew, stuff that were not in the tour books from the AAA.
"Straight Outta Congress": Congress is taking on the popular language of the hip-hop genre. Congress and hip-hop! The two go hand-in-hand, like trout and peanut butter. Anyway, this was the first time in a long time that I've heard anybody say "the H-word". And Jon mocking the NWA question was absolutely beautiful.
The new season really kicks into gear starting tonight...
- At 7, CBS has the 40th season premiere of 60 Minutes, followed by a new Power of 10 and the season premieres of Cold Case and Shark.
- NBC has a new Football Night In America at 7, then the Cowboys/Bears game.
- The series premiere of The CW Now airs on the The CW at 7, followed by the series premiere of Online Nation.
- At 8, PBS has the premiere Ken Burns miniseries The War.
- FOX has the season premiere of The Simpsons at 8 (or after football), then the season premieres of King of the Hill and Family Guy.
- Nick has a new Zoey 101 at 8, then a new Unfabulous.
- Also at 8: TCM has the original War of the Worlds, then the original Time Machine.
- At 9, ABC has clip shows for Desperate Housewives and Brothers & Sisters.
- There's a new Side Order of Life on Lifetime at 9.
- VH-1 has a new Rock of Love at 9, then new eps of The Pick Up Artist and Hogan Knows Best.
- HBO has a new Tell Me You Love Me at 9, then a new Curb Your Enthusiasm.
- At 11, IFC has the season finales of The Business and The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman.
Check your local TV listings for more.
"Gee whiz, that crazy nut just shot at me! I'd like to give that silly so-and-so a bop on the noggin, by golly!"
Yeah, I just can't imagine a World War II veteran talking about his experiences and not using a few expletives, and there are more than a few curse words bandied about in Ken Burns' seven-part documentary The War. The swearing comes not only from the soldiers themselves who use phrases like "holy s**t" and "***hole," but from the narrator, who explains what the military acronyms "FUBAR" and "SNAFU" stand for (if you don't know, Google it).
Like everyone else, I'm looking forward to the end of summer reruns, and for the new fall season to kick off over the next several weeks. In addition to returning shows and new offerings from the networks and studios, I'm also quite interested in Ken Burns' new documentary for PBS, The War, which debuts on September 23 at 8:00 p.m. and is scheduled to air in seven parts. Check your listings for airtimes in your area.
I've been drawn to the idea of a lengthy documentary about World War II partially for the historical aspect, but moreso because of the human aspect. Growing up, my exposure to that era was through films featuring rugged heroes and clean, bloodless battles. Combine this with the solipsism inherent in all young people, and the result is a skewed --if not completely false-- perspective on what it was really like to be alive during that era, not only for the soldiers on the battlefields overseas, but also for the people back home.
PBS recently posted a teaser clip of the new Ken Burns documentary about World War II, The War, on YouTube. I've placed it at the end of this post.
Based on my past posts about this upcoming documentary (it airs for two weeks starting September 23), people have differing opinions about Burns' talent as a documentary filmmaker. As a layman, I thought his Civil War was well-made and very interesting, though certainly not the most exciting documentary I've ever seen.
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