PBS President & CEO, Paula Kerger Opens Day 1 of the Virtual Winter TCA 2022
Welcoming critics back to the Virtual Winter 2022 Television Critics Association’s Press Tour, PBS President & CEO, Paula Kerger kicked off the organization’s three-day press tour.
“Together with our member stations and producing partners, we will bring much need light to the pressing issues of our day; illuminate extraordinary people, events, and cultural moments that have shaped our history; and, shine a spotlight on great storytellers whose stories deserve to be told.” — Paula Kerger, President & CEO, PBS
As a follow-up to several diversity initiatives announced during the Summer PBS Press Tour in 2021, Kerger shared a number of additional efforts to deepen public television’s commitment to diverse storytellers — both in front of and behind the camera. These announcements include:
A multi-year, multi-million-dollar investment in Firelight Media’s William Greaves Fund to support mid-career, diverse, nonfiction filmmakers.
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A new mentorship program, which will increase access and create pathways for early-career filmmakers, and provide more opportunities to produce content across public media platforms.
And a year-long fellowship program, which will embed filmmakers into existing projects, with significant stipend support, giving more opportunities for future leadership and executive roles.
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Together, this is all part of PBS’s comprehensive and sustainable effort to represent and reflect the great diversity of our country — through the stories we tell, and the people who tell them.
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Kerger then introduced new programs coming to PBS that are aligned with the organization’s efforts to address issues of racism and injustice in America — by shedding light on our past, helping us understand where we sit in this moment, and informing a brighter path forward.
These new programs include:
“Making Black America: Through the Grapevine” from Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. exploring Black Americans’ centuries-long history of establishing communities and attaining social, political and economic success in the face of racial segregation.
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WNET’s “One Day in March” examines the aftermath of the 2021 mass shooting in Atlanta and chronicles how the Asian American community came together to fight back against hate.
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And two programs from Stanley Nelson and Maryland Public Television, “Harriett Tubman,” a nuanced portrait of the political activist who risked her life to free others from slavery, and “Frederick Douglass,” shared in Douglass’s own words, a look at how a man born into slavery became a revered statesman, renowned orator, and leader of the abolitionist movement.
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Kerger shared that PBS and its producing partners continue to earn more Peabody’s and News & Documentary Emmy’s than any other media service. To continue this award-winning legacy, the organization introduced several new programs coming to PBS.
“Taken Hostage” from AMERICAN EXPERIENCE is a two-part documentary directed by Robert Stone exploring the 1979 Iran hostage crisis when 52 American diplomats, Marines, and civilians were taken hostage at the American Embassy in Tehran.
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THE GREEN PLANET, a five-part series produced in partnership with the BBC Studios Natural History Unit — and narrated by Sir David Attenborough — reveals the first immersive portrayal of the world of plants, which are the very backbone of our ecosystem.
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“Keeping Company,” from GREAT PERFORMANCES — which examines the revival of Stephen Sondheim’s “Company,” featuring performers from the original and modern-day casts.
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FIGHT THE POWER, THE STORY OF BLACK AMERICA AND THE HIP-HOP REVOLUTION — executive produced by Chuck D — which explores how hip-hop became one of the most influential art forms in the country and inspired sweeping change.
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The 25th-anniversary celebration of ARTHUR with a special PBS KIDS marathon, concluding with four new episodes and giving a glimpse into what’s in store for Arthur and his friends.
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And, WORK IT OUT WOMBATS!, from GBH Kids, premieres next winter, and stars three siblings who live with their grandmother in her treehouse apartment complex — teaches children to solve problems, express themselves, and accomplish tasks using computational thinking.
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Lastly, Paula Kerger closed her remarks by introducing a few multiplatform initiatives underway at PBS.
PBS Digital Studios is launching two new podcasts, IT’S LIT [Unabridged] and EONS: Mysteries of Deep Time in February and March, respectively.
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And PBS is expanding to TikTok, joining a number of other public television producers already on the platform, to celebrate and feature short-form content.