Showing posts with label PBS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label PBS. Show all posts

Friday, May 15, 2020

New Documentary on Singer and Civil Rights Icon Marian Anderson in Production

American Masters and Philip Gittelman Productions, in association with Black Public Media, have begun production on a new documentary on contralto Marian Anderson (1897-1993) for PBS. Directed by Emmy- and Peabody Award-winner Rita Coburn, American Masters – Marian Anderson: The Whole World in Her Hands (w.t.) will explore the life, career, art and legacy of the singer of classical music and spirituals. Best known for her performance at the legendary Freedom Concert on April 9, 1939, Anderson, in a bold protest against racial intolerance, sang before a diverse crowd on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., after being denied use of Constitution Hall by the Daughters of the American Revolution. In that moment, Anderson — despite being a fiercely private person — transformed into a symbol for the nascent civil rights movement, even inspiring a 10-year-old Martin Luther King, Jr., who listened on the radio.

With unprecedented access to the Marian Anderson Estate, the documentary will draw on rare archival footage and audio recordings and Anderson’s extensive personal correspondence to family and friends, including Martin Luther King, Jr., W.E.B. DuBois, Duke Ellington, Shirley Chisholm and Langston Hughes, to reveal the woman behind the icon. Anchored by key performances in her career, American Masters – Marian Anderson: The Whole World in Her Hands (w.t.) will show how her quiet genius and breathtaking voice set the stage for black performers in classical music, and a louder voice for civil rights.

“When producing films about people who experienced racism and the Civil Rights movement, having a filmmaker who understands the lens of the subject is a crucial part of telling the story successfully,” said Michael Kantor, executive producer of American Masters. “Rita co-directed our award-winning documentary Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise, and we’re thrilled to have her at the helm of this project.” “As an African American female director, I am honored to continue Marian Anderson’s legacy at a time when our culture needs to hear the tonality of resilience, power, beauty, voice and courage,” said director Rita Coburn. “When American Masters approached me with this opportunity, their support in curating a team of strength and talent from the black community was important to create a work that is empowered, inclusive and entrenched in the rigors of authentic storytelling. I look forward to working closely with director of photography Henry Adebonojo (Independent Lens: I Am Not Your Negro), composer Kathyrn Bostic (Clemency, American Masters – Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am), and executive producer Brenda Robinson (United Skates, A Crime on the Bayou).”

The film, a recipient of a production grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, will feature new interviews with Anderson’s friends, contemporaries and those she influenced, including fellow black opera singers, mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves and tenor George Shirley, who also serves on the film’s team of humanities advisers. Additional advisers with deep knowledge of Anderson, black history and music include Naomi AndrĂ©, Associate Professor in the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies, Women’s Studies, at the University of Michigan; Raymond Arsenault, author of “The Sound of Freedom: Marian Anderson, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Concert That Awakened America;” Christopher A. Brooks, Professor of Anthropology at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia; Lucy Caplan, lecturer of History and Literature at Harvard University; and Allan Keiler, author “Marian Anderson: A Singer’s Journey.”

Affectionately known to audiences as “The Lady from Philadelphia” and “The People’s Princess,” Anderson’s career was propelled by her talent, but also steered by the limits imposed by racism and segregation. This gifted pioneer, whose strength was rooted in family and community, overcame humiliation, prejudice and financial hardship to become a voice for justice, an internationally renowned master of her craft and the first African American to sing a leading role at the Metropolitan Opera in 1955. Balancing her public triumph with her personal struggles and resilience, American Masters – Marian Anderson: The Whole World in Her Hands (w.t.) will chart the impact of one of the world’s greatest singers, whose career provides a window into a time of seismic cultural change

American Masters – Marian Anderson: The Whole World in Her Hands (w.t.) is a co-production of American Masters Pictures and Philip Gittelman Productions. Produced in association with Artemis Rising Foundation. Directed by Rita Coburn. Produced by Philip Gittelman. Executive Producers: Regina K. Scully, Michael Kantor and Brenda Robinson.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

PBS suspends host Tavis Smiley amid sexual misconduct allegations

Longtime Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) host Tavis Smiley has been suspended following an investigation conducted by an outside law firm that found "credible allegations" regarding sexual misconduct.

"Effective today, PBS has indefinitely suspended distribution of 'Tavis Smiley', produced by TS Media, an independent production company," a PBS spokesperson said in a statement Wednesday. "PBS engaged an outside law firm to conduct an investigation immediately after learning of troubling allegations regarding Mr. Smiley. This investigation included interviews with witnesses as well as with Mr. Smiley. The inquiry uncovered multiple, credible allegations of conduct that is inconsistent with the values and standards of PBS, and the totality of this information led to today’s decision."

Variety reports that the law firm MSK was hired by PBS and "took reports from 10 witnesses, a mix of men and women of different races and employment levels in Smiley’s organization, most of them former staffers," who claim he fostered a hostile work climate while verbally abusing his employees, according to the report.

Smiley, 53, has hosted his PBS program since 2004; he also served as its producer.


Monday, November 14, 2016

PBS host Gwen Ifill Dies at 61

Gwen Ifill, the longtime PBS news anchor who had served as a co-host of PBS’s NewsHour and as moderator of “Washington Week,” has died after a battle with cancer. She was 61.

One of the most visible African American female broadcast journalists, she received more than 20 honorary doctorates, had been honored by the Peabody awards, Radio and Television News Directors Association, Harvard's Joan Shorenstein Center, and The National Association of Black Journalists among others. She also served on the boards of the News Literacy Project, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and was a fellow with the American Academy of Sciences.[SOURCE]

PBS released the following statement:

It is with extremely heavy hearts that we must share that our dear friend and beloved colleague Gwen Ifill passed away this afternoon following several months of cancer treatment. She was surrounded by loving family and many friends whom we ask that you keep in your thoughts and prayers.

A note from Sara Just, PBS NewsHour executive producer and WETA SVP

“Gwen was a standard bearer for courage, fairness and integrity in an industry going through seismic change. She was a mentor to so many across the industry and her professionalism was respected across the political spectrum. She was a journalist’s journalist and set an example for all around her.

So many people in the audience felt that they knew and adored her. She had a tremendous combination of warmth and authority. She was stopped on the street routinely by people who just wanted to give her a hug and considered her a friend after years of seeing her on TV.

We will forever miss her terribly.”

Friday, September 09, 2016

All the Difference: A story of young black men in college

All the Difference is a documentary about two young black men in college. The film premieres on PBS Sept. 12, 2016. Learn more about the documentary and watch the trailer below.

Film Synopsis: The largely invisible and often crushing struggles of young African-American men come vividly — and heroically — to life in All the Difference, which traces the paths of two teens from the South Side of Chicago who dared to dream a seemingly impossible dream: to graduate from college. As this intimate film shows, Robert Henderson and Krishaun Branch’s determination started them on the road to success, but it was the support from people in their lives—parents, grandparents, teachers and mentors— that brought them to their destination.

A co-production of American Documentary | POV; Part of American Graduate: Let's Make It Happen, made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Filmmaker(s): Tod Lending, Joy Thomas Moore, and Wes Moore

Film website: