PBS started off the television network’s winter presentation to the Television Critics Association with previews and discussions of their upcoming programming.
Blueprint America is a multi-platform project spearheaded by WNET.org, the new brand name of the New York PBS station that signifies the changing media landscape. The project focuses on the current state of the United States’ infrastructure, which drew the nation’s attention into sharp focus with the collapse of the I-35W Mississippi River bridge in Minnesota. A number of different PBS series, such as The Newshour with Jim Lehrer and Bill Moyers Journal, as well as public radio programs take part in contributing stories.
Great Performances - King Lear
Premieres March 25
Sir Ian McKellen toured internationally with the Royal Shakespeare Company from April 2007 through January 2008 and this performance was recorded in a London studio at the end of the run. At the Tour, McKellen said that returning to the studio felt like returning back to rehearsal. He also spoke of his process as an actor and how he tries to do something different with each performance, so this recording will be unique.
One television critic, trying to be a bit of a wise guy, came off like a buffoon and revealed why he didn’t get the film critic job, when he asked if McKellen, while on tour with the production, was recognized by people on the street as King Lear “do they say Lord of the Flies?” McKellen quickly responded, “Well, if they say Lord of the Flies I put them right. They often say 'Hi, Dumbledore!' and I say 'No, no, that's Mike Gambon [from the Harry Potter films]. I play the real wizard — the best wizard,” referring to Gandalf from Lord of the Rings. He continued, “Of course, there's a confusion because Ms. Rowling has announced that Dumbledore is gay, hasn't she? So maybe that's the confusion. Whether Gandalf is gay is another matter. His wife is never mentioned and he's 7,000 years old. He must have had some experience with sex.”
Another critic asked about whether McKellen would appear nude as he did in the play, almost as if the critic was unaware that it would be airing on broadcast television. While he would not be shown naked, executive producer David Horn assured that it was implied.
PBS Exec Session
Paula Kerger, President and CEO, talked about upcoming programming. There’s a revival of The Electric Company, and Dinosaur Train is a new CGI-animated series from The Jim Henson Company geared towards preschoolers with a focus on science. Fall 2009 will see the debut of Ken Burn’s new six-part The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. The footage presented was rough, but the program should be spectacular. In Spring 2010 Burns’ documentary Baseball is going to be rebroadcast and it will be joined by a new installment entitled “The Tenth Inning” which covers the past 15 years.