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November 23, 2014

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Forest Whitaker Honors Story of Iraq War Vet at 'National Memorial Day Concert' (VIDEO)

by Jason Hughes, posted May 31st 2011 12:51AM
Forest Whitaker, 'The National Memorial Day Concert'Memorial Day is a holiday to honor the men and women of our armed forces, and those who sacrifice so much for our country and our freedoms. At 'The National Memorial Day Concert' (Sun., 8PM ET on PBS), Forest Whitaker helped to bring home how personal each of those veteran's stories are, by relating one to us.

Specialist Michael Martin suffered injuries when his "40,000 pound monster vehicle" somersaulted after hitting an IED.

"Right away, I noticed things weren't the same. The simplest things like putting on a seatbelt frustrated me. My balance was bad. My speech was bad, my short-term memory, it was gone," Whitaker related on behalf of Martin.

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'Downton Abbey' Loses Out as 'Sherlock' Wins Big at the BAFTAs

by Catherine Lawson, posted May 23rd 2011 6:12AM
Martin FreemanIt was a mixed bag for PBS last night at the BAFTA TV Awards in London as 'Sherlock' took home two trophies, but 'Downton Abbey' left empty-handed.

'Sherlock' won the coveted Best Drama Series Award, and Martin Freeman ('The Hobbit') won Best Supporting Actor for his role as Doctor Watson in the modern take on the 'Sherlock Holmes' mysteries.

However, Freeman's co-star Benedict Cumberbatch lost out in the Best Actor category to Daniel Rigby ('Flyboys') for his role as legendary British comedian Eric Morecambe in 'Eric & Ernie.' Rigby also beat out fan favorite, 'Doctor Who' star Matt Smith.

'Downton Abbey' was nominated for three major awards -- Best Drama Series, Best Supporting Actor and The Audience Award -- but failed to win any of them.

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'Downton Abbey' Creator to Write 'Titanic' TV Mini-Series

by Catherine Lawson, posted Mar 23rd 2011 9:00AM
Julian FellowesIt's been announced that Julian Fellowes, the Oscar-winning writer behind PBS hit 'Downton Abbey' and 'Gosford Park' is to put his spin on the 'Titanic' story.

Filming on the international co-production starts in Hungary this spring, and its broadcast will be timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the sinking of 'The Titanic' in April 1912.

In a statement, Maria Kyriacou, Managing Director at ITV Studios Global Entertainment, said the four-part mini-series will provide "a vividly different experience of the ship's last hours alongside a definitive snapshot of what was a unique and uncertain moment in history."

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Should the Government Defund Public Broadcasting?

by Gary Susman, posted Mar 11th 2011 8:00AM
ElmoSickle me, Elmo.

There's an air of doom at both PBS and NPR this week amid the current PR disaster over comments NPR's fundraising chief made during a video sting by conservative political activists. The result could mean the end of government funding for public broadcasting.

During a lunch meeting with activists posing as wealthy radical Muslims pretending to offer a $5 million grant to the public radio network, the impostors secretly filmed NPR's Ron Schiller making disparaging comments about Republicans and Tea Partiers. But even more damning may have been Ron Schiller's filmed remark that NPR doesn't really need federal funding and might even be better off without it.

NPR brass quickly disavowed Schiller's comments and booted him out the door (NPR CEO Vivian Schiller, no relation, was forced out as well), but the remarks seemed to validate the vote House Republicans made last month to cut funding for NPR and PBS from about $450 million per year to zero. The elimination of all federal funding for public broadcasting may not pass the Senate or President Obama's veto pen, but still, the whole imbroglio raises questions worth asking: Could public broadcasting survive and even thrive without federal money? Should the government be involved at all in funding culture? Can it afford to? In a 500-channel universe, is the programming provided by PBS and NPR not just a redundancy but an irresponsible luxury? Or would public broadcasting stations, along with many beloved shows, wither away without taxpayer dollars?

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The Classy, Wonderful 'Downton Abbey' Starts 2011 in Style

by Maureen Ryan, posted Jan 4th 2011 11:15AM

The year has barely begun but I already have a candidate for 2011's Top 10 Shows list.

'Downton Abbey,' which debuts 9 PM ET Sunday on PBS (check local listings), is a handsome period drama about an English upper-class family facing an inheritance crisis. At least that's the shorthand description for this terrific drama, which was a huge hit when it aired in the U.K.

No doubt 'Downton Abbey' did well is because it is, in part, an enthralling, lively soap opera about the secrets and heartaches that lurk in the elegant drawing rooms and the busy servants' wing of a very grand house. It also allows Dame Maggie Smith -- who is just one member of an exceptional cast -- to steal a number of comedic scenes as a doughty dowager countess straight out of a P.G. Wodehouse novel.

But this energetic and emotionally engaging drama has another agenda, one that makes 'Downton Abbey' much more than just a pretty period piece about lords and ladies and their harried maids and butlers.

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PBS Cut Tina Fey's Zinger About Sarah Palin

by Ryan McKee, posted Nov 16th 2010 2:30PM
Everyone loves Tina Fey ... except Sarah Palin and now PBS.

Fey accepted comedy's most prestigious award, the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, at the Kennedy Center last Tuesday night. PBS traditionally rebroadcasts the event the following Sunday. However, this year the network decided to edit Fey's most controversial joke, which was about Palin.

Thanks to the 'Washington Post,' here is what ended up on the cutting room floor (the video below also shows the unedited joke around the 12 minute and 30 second mark):

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'Sherlock' Review: A Very Enjoyable Holmes Fights Crime in Modern London

by Maureen Ryan, posted Oct 22nd 2010 12:45PM
In Steven Moffat's 'Sherlock' (Sunday, PBS; check local listings) the legendary London detective gets a witty, wise, even thrilling update.

This series does what you'd want a modern-day Sherlock Holmes series to do: It acknowledges that he would use technology to assist him in his prodigious feats of deduction, yet it stays true to the characters that Arthur Conan Doyle created.

But don't assume this 'Sherlock,' which stars Benedict Cumberbatch and future Hobbit Martin Freeman, is just for mystery fans or Holmes enthusiasts.

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Ken Burns and Lynn Novick Talk About 'Baseball: The Tenth Inning'

by Joel Keller, posted Sep 28th 2010 4:00PM
Logo for 'Baseball: The Tenth Inning'Fans of Ken Burns' 'Baseball' documentary should get their DVRs ready tonight, as PBS airs the first part of the four-hour, two-part follow-up to that landmark 1994 series. Called 'Baseball: The Tenth Inning,' Burns and co-producer Lynn Novick take a look at the historic and changing baseball landscape from 1993 to the present.

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.

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New PBS Masterpiece Fall Dramas Coming Soon

by Catherine Lawson, posted Sep 10th 2010 9:15AM

The stars of 'Sherlock'Although there's a conspicuous absence of both corsets and Dame Judi Dench, PBS Masterpiece fans are still in for a treat this fall with a new crop of dramas from across the pond.

As reported in deadline.com, PBS has announced that the fall season will open Sun. Oct. 3 with 'Wallander.' This BBC adaptation of the bestselling Henning Mankell novels stars Kenneth Branagh as gloomy Swedish detective Kurt Wallander. Although this second season is darker in tone than the first, and Branagh was memorably described by one critic as "having the permanent mien of a recently slaughtered halibut," it won rave reviews and good ratings in the U.K.

The much-hyped 'Sherlock' follows, premiering Sun. Oct. 24. This modern-day reboot of the 'Sherlock Holmes' novels was a summer hit in the U.K. and has already been renewed for a second season. Created by Steven Moffat ('Doctor Who') and Mark Gatiss ('The League of Gentlemen') it stars up-and-comer Benedict Cumberbatch ('Atonement') as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman ('Love Actually') as Dr. Watson.

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An Old Favorite Gets a Makeover and Returns to PBS

by Catherine Lawson, posted Aug 5th 2010 7:30AM

The Bellamy family and their servantsTell the parlormaid to bring some tea, dust off the antimacassars and stiffen those upper lips: 'Upstairs Downstairs' is coming back! The perennial PBS favorite is the latest '70s classic to get a 21st-century reboot, and new details have been released.

A co-production from PBS and The BBC, there will be three all-new, hour-long episodes to be broadcast in the U.S. next year as part of Masterpiece's 40th anniversary celebrations. Filming is due to start in Wales later this month.

The original 'Upstairs Downstairs' aired on PBS from 1971-5 and followed the fortunes of the aristocratic Bellamy family and their servants from the turn of the century to 1930. The final episode saw their iconic mansion in Belgravia being shuttered up for the last time as the remaining family members and servants moved out.

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Ken Burns Heads Back to the Ballpark With 'The Tenth Inning'

by Mike Moody, posted May 12th 2010 11:30AM
Ken Burns baseball tenth inning pbsKen Burns is returning to home plate with a follow-up to his 1994 documentary 'Baseball.' The filmmaker's new project about "America's favorite pastime," 'The Tenth Inning,' premieres Sept. 28 on PBS.

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.

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Patrick Stewart Talks About 'Hamlet,' 'Macbeth' and His IT Guy... Wil Wheaton

by Joel Keller, posted Apr 20th 2010 2:02PM
Sir Patrick StewartMost people know the recently-knighted Patrick Stewart from his movie and TV roles, many of which are of the sci fi / fantasy variety. Of course, there's Jean-Luc Picard of 'Star Trek: The Next Generation,' but there's also Charles Xavier in the 'X-Men' series and the voice of Avery Bullock on 'American Dad.'

But back in his native England, Sir Patrick is just as well known for his Shakespearean work, both on-stage and on the screen. Some of that work will be on display on April 28, when he reprises the role of Claudius (he first played the role on TV 30 years ago) in PBS's production of 'Hamlet' on 'Great Performances.' As Nick mentioned yesterday, the production, with David Tennant in the title role, mixes the classic dialogue with modern dress and settings to give the play a more contemporary feel.

Stewart will also perform in the title role of 'Macbeth' for a similarly-staged production airing on PBS later this year. I sat down with Sir Patrick in January, when he presented at the TCAs; we spoke about the two productions, what his classic training brought to his 'Star Trek' role, his guest turn on 'Extras' and how his first ever IT guy was none other than Wil Wheaton.

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David Tennant and Patrick Stewart In a Classic 'Hamlet'

by Nick Zaino, posted Apr 19th 2010 9:02AM
David Tennant and Patrick Stewart in 'Hamlet' on PBS's 'Great Performances' If you are going to play Hamlet with the Royal Shakespeare Company, you could do a lot worse for practice than playing Doctor Who for five years. Both characters depend on a certain amount of madness, something at which David Tenant is especially adept. And there is, as Shakespeare says of his sweet prince, a certain method to that madness.

That said, the version of 'Hamlet' airing April 28 on PBS's 'Great Performances' (and appearing on DVD May 4) is not the good Doctor as Danish prince. There are flashes of that, especially in Hamlet's early scenes with Polonius (a masterful Oliver Ford Davies) and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. That's where Tennant plays with a pitch-perfect blend of humor and cunning, spinning just short of out of control. And there is a beautiful sense of irony when Hamlet looks into the camera and says that time is out of join and it's his job to fix it.

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Diane Lane to Star in HBO's 'Cinema Verite'

by Brad Trechak, posted Apr 9th 2010 10:30AM
Diane LaneDiane Lane has been cast as the lead role in HBO's new film 'Cinema Verite.' She'll be playing Pat Loud, the mother and main character of the ground-breaking 1973 PBS documentary 'An American Family.' When the documentary was first released, it stunned viewers with its frank discussion on issues such as divorce and sexual identity. Pat even historically asked her husband for a divorce on camera.

In short, this is to be a scripted movie about a documentary behind the filming of a documentary. With such convolution, it's sure to cause some sort of rupture in the space-time continuum. Doc Brown is probably having a conniption as this is being written.

It does sounds like a pretty good movie, though. In 30 years or so, we'll be seeing television movies about the backstage antics in shows like 'Keeping Up with the Kardashians' or 'The Simple Life.' It's likely that whomever they cast as Paris Hilton will be more convincing in the role than Paris Hilton.

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'Modern Family,' 'Glee' Pick Up Peabody Awards

by Danny Gallagher, posted Mar 31st 2010 7:30PM
The Peabody AwardsThe Peabody Award winners were announced today and they included their usual mix of enlightening documentaries and popular favorites, both of which are equally worthy of recognition.

This year's list didn't have many fictional shows, but the one's they picked more than made up for their absence. ABC's 'Modern Family' and Fox's 'Glee' both picked up awards, the only two sitcoms on the list. HBO's 'No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency' and 'In Treatment' were also the only dramas on the list.

Other notable winners include 'The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson' for his sit-down with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, HBO's documentary 'Thrilla in Manila,' PBS' 'Frontline' for their stirring report on Bernie Madoff and '60 Minutes'' expose on "The Cost of Dying."

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