PBS: America’s Home for Documentaries This Fall
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Clockwise from top left: Dwight Yoakam – COUNTRY MUSIC (Courtesy of Jared Ames); Raúl Juliá- AMERICAN MASTERS “Raúl Juliá: The World's a Stage” (Courtesy of Family Collection); Ross Poldark and Demelza – POLDARK, SEASON 5 ON MASTERPIECE (Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE); Danielle Brooks and Grantham Coleman in GREAT PERFORMANCES “Much Ado About Nothing” (Courtesy of Joseph Sinnott)
Programming Includes Premiere of Critically Acclaimed Filmmaker Ken Burns’s Long-Awaited COUNTRY MUSIC and Peabody Award-Winning Filmmaker Lynn Novick’s COLLEGE BEHIND BARS
PBS Schedule Includes New Weekly Contemporary History Series
RETRO REPORT ON PBS
Along with New Reporting from FRONTLINE, Independent Documentary Strands Debut Compelling New Documentaries with
INDEPENDENT LENS “Made in Boise” and POV “The Feeling of Being Watched”
Robust Fall Lineup Includes Programs Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, Veterans Day, Native American Heritage Month, “Broadway’s Best” from GREAT PERFORMANCES and the final season of MASTERPIECE“Poldark”
Additional Assets Available on PBS PRESSROOM
Download the complete PBS Fall 2019 Programming Guide
ARLINGTON, VA; July 18, 2019 – PBS today unveiled a robust fall slate with a focus on impactful documentary programming. Premieres include the long-awaited eight-part, 16-hour documentary COUNTRY MUSIC from director Ken Burns on September 15-18 and 22-25, 8:00-10:00 p.m. ET; Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Lynn Novick’s COLLEGE BEHIND BARS on November 25-26, 9:00 p.m. ET; and new weekly one-hour magazine format series RETRO REPORT ON PBS, Mondays and Tuesdays, October 7-29, 9:00 p.m. ET. Additional programs from AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, NATURE and NOVA, along with new seasons of INDEPENDENT LENS, POV and FRONTLINE add to the expansive fall documentary slate.
PBS is America’s home for documentaries, offering a vast array of traditional documentary films, in-depth investigative reports, biographies, history, and news and public affairs programming. Year after year, PBS showcases compelling, high-quality content that encourages conversation and understanding.
For its fall season, PBS will also highlight cultural and thematic programming, including Hispanic Heritage Month—with a new film co-presented by AMERICAN MASTERS and VOCES about the life and career of Raúl Juliá (Friday, September 13 at 9:00 p.m. ET)—along with special films for Veterans Day and Native American Heritage Month, and “Broadway’s Best” with new performance specials from GREAT PERFORMANCES.
“PBS is the most prolific platform for documentaries, with more than 200 hours per year,” said Perry Simon, Chief Programming Executive and General Manager of General Audience Programming, PBS. “This fall, we are showcasing first-rate programs featuring award-winning directors, diverse storytellers, hard-hitting investigations and untold stories, solidifying our status as America's premier destination for documentary film. We are also excited about our programs representing the best in news, arts, drama, history and science — this fall has something for everyone.”
Celebrating our culture through music, anchoring the fall PBS schedule is the two-week premiere of the highly anticipated 16-hour documentary COUNTRY MUSIC on Sunday-Wednesday, September 15-18, 8:00 p.m. ET and Sunday-Wednesday, September 22-25, 8:00 p.m. ET. Directed by Ken Burns, this special event is an exploration of country music—from its roots in ballads, hymns and the blues to its mainstream popularity—and highlights the unforgettable characters and storytellers who made it “America’s music.” Beginning the night of the premiere, the entire eight-episode film will also be available on PBS Passport through February 28, 2020.
In advance of the premiere, PBS will debut a two-hour special, COUNTRY MUSIC: LIVE AT THE RYMAN, A CONCERT CELEBRATING THE FILM BY KEN BURNS, on Sunday, September 8 at 8:00 p.m. ET. Hosted by Burns, the show features performances and appearances by celebrated musicians Dierks Bentley, Rosanne Cash, Rhiannon Giddens, Vince Gill, Kathy Mattea, Marty Stuart, Dwight Yoakam and more. Additionally, PBS will present encores of AMERICAN MASTERS“Charley Pride: I’m Just Me,” on Thursday, September 19 at 9:00 p.m. ET and SOUNDBREAKING “The Art of Recording” on Thursday, September 26 at 9:00 p.m. ET, along with AUSTIN CITY LIMITS“Chris Stapleton/Turnpike Troubadours” on Saturday, September 14 and “Willie Nelson” on Saturday, September 21 (check local listings).
In October, RETRO REPORT ON PBS, a new weekly one-hour magazine series, hosted by journalist Celeste Headlee and artist Masud Olufani and featuring New Yorker humorist Andy Borowitz, goes beyond the headlines to understand the present by revealing the past. By exploring often surprising historical roots and debunking widely believed myths, the program, airing Mondays-Tuesdays, October 7-29 at 9:00 p.m. ET, gives viewers a fresh perspective and a more complete picture of today's most important stories.
FRONTLINE delivers tough investigative journalism, taking viewers inside controversial and complex stories currently shaping our times. “The Crown Prince” on Tuesday, October 1, 9:00 p.m. ET, investigates the rise of the young Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, his vision for the future, his handling of dissent, and the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. “For Sama” on Tuesday, November 19, 10:00 p.m. ET, is an intimate and visceral documentary about a mother’s experience during the Syrian war, as she determines whether to flee or stay. This critically acclaimed film, produced by Channel 4 News/ITN Productions for Channel 4 and WGBH/FRONTLINE, is the 2019 winner of the Cannes Film Festival Best Documentary Award, and the Documentary Feature winner at the 2019 SXSW Feature Film Grand Jury Awards.
From independent producers, INDEPENDENT LENS“Made in Boise” airing Monday, October 28, 10:00 p.m. ET, goes inside the lives of four surrogates in Boise, Idaho and the intended parents whose children they carry. The film follows the women as they navigate the rigors of pregnancy and the mixed feelings of their own families, who struggle to understand their choice to risk the physical and emotional complications of carrying babies for someone else. POV “The Feeling of Being Watched” on Monday, October 14 at 10:00 p.m. uncovers one woman’s quest to investigate and uncover one of the largest pre-9/11 counterterrorism probes conducted on domestic soil, right in her suburban Chicago hometown.
In November, COLLEGE BEHIND BARS debuts on Monday, November 25 and Tuesday, November 26 at 9:00 p.m. ET. The four-part documentary film series, directed by award-winning filmmaker Lynn Novick, produced by Sarah Botstein, and executive produced by Ken Burns, explores the transformative power of education through the eyes of incarcerated men and women trying to earn college degrees. Shot over four years in maximum and medium security prisons in New York State, the series examines America’s failure to provide meaningful rehabilitation for the over two million men and women living behind bars.
MASTERPIECE will continue to enthrall audiences with period and modern British dramas, including the fifth and final season of “Poldark,” premiering on Sunday, September 29, 9:00 p.m. ET. Aidan Turner returns as the heroic Ross Poldark, Eleanor Tomlinson revisits her role as Demelza and Jack Farthing stars as George Warleggan. Beginning the night of the September 29 broadcast premiere, all eight episodes of Season 5 will be available on PBS Passport. Seasons 1-4 are also available for catch-up streaming. Additionally, from MASTERPIECE, “The Durrells in Corfu” returns for a fourth and final season of the heartwarming dramedy on Sunday, September 29, 8:00 p.m. ET, and new miniseries “Press,” beginning Sunday, October 6, 10:00 p.m. ET and set in London, explores the current turbulent media landscape and the ethical dilemmas that journalists and editors face each day.
This fall, GREAT PERFORMANCES brings viewers the broadcast premieres of “Broadway’s Best” every Friday night, beginning November 1 with “42nd Street,” the Broadway fable of a star-struck chorus girl dreaming of her big break; “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I” on November 8, Lincoln Center Theater’s Tony Award-winning revival of the beloved musical classic inspired by the true story of a British school teacher in the royal court of Siam starring Kelli O’Hara and Ken Watanabe; “Red” on November 15, the Tony Award-winning play starring Alfred Molina as painter Mark Rothko and Alfred Enoch as his assistant as they clash over the murals for New York’s Four Seasons restaurant; “Much Ado About Nothing” on November 22, The Public Theater’s Free Shakespeare in the Park modern interpretation of Shakespeare’s romantic classic featuring Danielle Brooks and Grantham Coleman and directed by Tony Award-winner Kenny Leon; and “Kinky Boots” on November 29, the 2013 Broadway blockbuster about an unexpected duo joining forces to create an extraordinary line of shoes featuring music and lyrics by pop icon Cyndi Lauper and a book by Broadway legend Harvey Fierstein.
PBS will showcase some of the best programs of its upcoming season at the Television Critics Association (TCA) Summer Press Tour on July 29 and 30. During its two days, PBS will present a diverse array of talent from arts, entertainment, news, science and history, and showcase independent producers with award winning documentaries. Those appearing on panels include six-time Olympic medalist and heptathlon world-record holder Jackie Joyner-Kersee for XAVIER RIDDLE AND THE SECRET MUSEUM(PBS KIDS); Henry Louis Gates, Jr., actress Justina Machado and comedian Sasheer Zamata for FINDING YOUR ROOTS WITH HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR; Ken Burns, Rosanne Cash, Dwight Yoakam and Marty Stuart for COUNTRY MUSIC; For “Woodstock: Three Days that Defined a Generation” from AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Barak Goodman and original Woodstock co-creator Joel Rosenman; and comedian Andy Borowitz for RETRO REPORT ON PBS. James Beard Award-winning Chef Marcus Samuelsson for NO PASSPORT REQUIRED, along with Chef Vivian Howard for SOUTH BY SOMEWHERE. National Correspondent Amna Nawaz joins us for PBS NEWSHOUR, and for MASTERPIECE “Sanditon”Theo James, actor (Divergent movies; “Mr. Pamuk” in Downton Abbey); Rose Williams, actor (Curfew); and Andrew Davies, writer and executive producer (Pride & Prejudice, Les Misérables).
The PBS fall season includes many additional shows, series and specials, with most program descriptions listed in the complete PBS Fall Programming Guide. For photography, screeners and additional assets visit www.pbs.org/pressroom.
COUNTRY MUSIC: LIVE AT THE RYMAN, A CONCERT CELEBRATING THE FILM BY KEN BURNS
Premiere: Sunday, September 8, 8:00 p.m. ET
Encore: Sunday, September 8, 10:30 p.m. ET
Join celebrated musicians for a concert celebrating the film by Ken Burns. Hosted by Burns and featuring performances and appearances by Dierks Bentley, Rosanne Cash, Rhiannon Giddens, Vince Gill, Kathy Mattea, Marty Stuart, Dwight Yoakam and more.
Premiere: Episodes 1-4: Sunday-Wednesday, September 15-18, 8:00 p.m. ET
Episodes 5-8: Sunday-Wednesday, September 22-25, 8:00 p.m. ET
Encore: Episodes 1-4: Sunday-Wednesday, September 15-19, 10:00 p.m. ET
Episodes 5-8: Sunday-Wednesday, September 22-25, 10:00 p.m. ET
Explore the history of country music — from its roots in ballads, hymns and the blues to its mainstream popularity — and meet the unforgettable characters and storytellers who made it “America’s music.” Directed by Ken Burns.
PBS PASSPORT: Station members with PBS Passport will be able to stream the entire eight-episode film starting on the night of its premiere through February 28, 2020.
Season 5 Premiere: Sunday, September 29, 9:00 p.m. ET
New Episodes: Sundays, 9:00 p.m. ET
Series Finale: Sunday, November 17, 9:00 p.m. ET
Aidan Turner returns as the heroic Ross Poldark for a final season of drama in Cornwall. Also returning are Eleanor Tomlinson as Demelza and Jack Farthing as George Warleggan.
PBS PASSPORT: Binge all eight episodes of Season 5 on the same night as the broadcast premiere. Seasons 1-4 are also available for catch-up streaming.
FRONTLINE “The Crown Prince”
Tuesday, October 1, 9:00 p.m. ET
The murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi has drawn the world’s attention to the young Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). FRONTLINE investigates the rise of MBS, his vision for the future, his handling of dissent, and the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
RETRO REPORT ON PBS
Series Premiere: Mondays-Tuesdays, October 7-29, 9:00 p.m. ET
Understanding the present by revealing the past: Hosts Celeste Headlee and Masud Olufani uncover surprising connections between today's headlines and the past. New Yorker humorist Andy Borowitz adds a dash of wit.
POV “The Feeling of Being Watched”
Monday, October 14, 10:00 p.m. ET
When journalist Assia Boundaoui investigates rumors of surveillance in an Arab-American neighborhood outside Chicago, she uncovers one of the largest counterterrorism probes conducted before 9/11 — one that has had profound impacts on the community.
INDEPENDENT LENS “Made in Boise”
Season Premiere: Monday, October 28, 10:00 p.m. ET
Meet four women who are carrying babies for gay couples, single men and infertile couples. The booming center of the movement is Idaho, where women are choosing to become surrogates despite the mixed feelings of their own families.
FRONTLINE “For Sama”
Tuesday, November 19, 10:00 p.m. ET
An intimate and visceral documentary about a mother’s experience during the Syrian war, as she determines whether to flee or stay. This film, produced by Channel 4 News/ITN Productions for Channel 4 and WGBH/FRONTLINE is the 2019 winner of the Cannes Film Festival Best Documentary Award, and the Documentary Feature winner at the 2019 SXSW Feature Film Grand Jury Awards.
COLLEGE BEHIND BARS
Monday-Tuesday, November 25-26, 9:00 p.m. ET
Explore the transformative power of education through the eyes of a dozen incarcerated men and women trying to earn college degrees — and a chance at redemption — from one of the country’s most rigorous prison education systems. Directed by Lynn Novick.
ADDITIONAL FALL SEASON PROGRAMS AND LISTINGS
Monday, September 2, 10:00 p.m. ET
As agriculture moves toward large-scale farming, the Nolans return home to resurrect their family’s dairy farm. Clear-eyed and intimate, this film offers an unexpected voice for a forsaken people: those who grow the food that sustains us.
AMERICAN EXPERIENCE “The Feud”
Season Premiere: Tuesday, September 10, 9:00 p.m. ET
Discover the real story behind the most famous family conflict in American history — the bloody backwoods battle between Appalachian clans, the Hatfields and the McCoys. This new film goes beyond the myth to show how the feud was ignited.
GREAT PERFORMANCES “Now Hear This”
Miniseries Premiere: Friday, September 20, 9:00 p.m. ET
Journey across Europe to discover how composers Bach, Vivaldi, Scarlatti, and Handel created their timeless masterworks in a four-part miniseries. From legendary concert halls and backstreet jazz clubs to historic music schools and obscure archives, host Maestro Scott Yoo, chief conductor and artistic director of the Mexico City Philharmonic, encounters music virtuosos, local artists, artisan instrument makers, scholars, students and fans. Each episode is dedicated to a famed classical composition and proves how each piece is relevant to the culture of today.
MASTERPIECE “The Durrells in Corfu”
Season Premiere: Sunday, September 29, 8:00 p.m. ET
New Episodes: Sundays, 8:00 p.m. ET
Series Finale: Sunday, November 3, 8:00 p.m. ET
Return to the sun-soaked island of Corfu for a fourth and final season of the heartwarming dramedy. This season sees the entire family start new chapters in their lives, and plenty of adventures, including the opening of a beauty salon, turning the family villa into an inn and of course, more animals.
HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH
PBS celebrates Hispanic Heritage month with a lineup of programming that entertains, informs and explores the culture of Hispanic and Latino Americans.
AMERICAN MASTERS “Raúl Juliá: The World’s a Stage”
Friday, September 13, 9:00 p.m. ET
Discover the life and career of Raul Julia, the charismatic, award-winning actor and humanitarian known for versatile roles on stage and screen, from Shakespearean plays to “The Addams Family.” A co-presentation of VOCES and AMERICAN MASTERS.
VOCES ON PBS “The Pushouts”
Season Premiere: Friday, September 20, 10:00 p.m. ET
Meet Victor Rios, a high school dropout and former gang member-turned-award-winning professor, author and expert on the school to prison pipeline, who works with young people who have been “pushed out” of school for reasons beyond their control.
VOCES ON PBS “Adios Amor: The Search for Maria Moreno”
Friday, September 27, 10:00 p.m. ET
See how the discovery of lost photographs sparks the search for a hero that history forgot — Maria Moreno, an eloquent migrant mother of 12 who became an outspoken leader for farmworker rights. Her legacy was buried — until now.
VOCES ON PBS “Provenir, Texas”
Friday, October 4, 10:00 p.m. ET
Discover the true story behind the 1918 massacre of 15 Mexican men in Provenir, a tiny border town in Texas. One hundred years later, the film asks what led to the events of that fateful night and reveals the tensions that still remain along the border a century later.
THE HISPANIC HERITAGE AWARDS (2019)
Friday, October 11, 10:00 p.m. ET
Join the country’s highest tribute to Latinos by Latinos. The program includes performances and appearances by celebrated Hispanic artists. Honorees to be announced later.
OCTOBER 2019: PREMIERES
NATURE “Octopus: Making Contact”
Season Premiere: Wednesday, October 2, 8:00 p.m. ET
Follow an Alaskan professor as he raises and studies a pet octopus in his home, making remarkable discoveries about its extraordinary intelligence, personality and skills. Octopuses are able to recognize faces and interact with other individuals.
Miniseries Premiere: Sunday, October 6, 10:00 p.m. ET
Set in the world of newspapers in London, this razor sharp and observant drama explores the current turbulent media landscape and the ethical dilemmas that journalists and editors face each day. Charlotte Riley (“Peaky Blinders”) and Ben Chaplin (“Apple Tree Yard”) star along with Priyanga Burford (“King Charles III”) and David Suchet (“Poirot”).
NATURE “The Serengeti Rules”
Wednesday, October 9, 8:00 p.m. ET
Explore some of the most remote and spectacular places on Earth with a pioneering group of scientists who make surprising discoveries that transform human understanding of nature and ecology. Based on a book of the same name.
POV “Blowin’ Up”
Monday, October 21, 10:00 p.m. ET
Working within a broken criminal justice system, a team of rebel heroines work to change the way women arrested for prostitution are prosecuted. This film celebrates acts of steadfast defiance, even as it reveals the hurdles these women must face.
NATURE “Okavango: River of Dreams”
Wednesdays, October 23 – November 6, 8:00 pm ET
Experience the wildlife of the Okavango Delta, an unlikely oasis and lush paradise in Southern Africa that connects and supports a wide array of creatures. Lions chase elephants, who chase hippos, who chase crocodiles. F. Murray Abraham narrates.
LIFE FROM ABOVE
Wednesday, October 23, 10:00 p.m. ET
Behold Earth as it has never been seen before. Cameras in space tell stories of life on our planet from a brand-new perspective, revealing its incredible movements, colors, patterns and how fast it’s changing.
VETERANS DAY & NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH
SONGWRITING WITH SOLDIERS — VETERANS DAY
Friday, October 25, 10:00 p.m. ET
Join SongwritingWith:Soldiers’ unique collaborative of professional artists working with veterans to tell their stories of war and the return home through song. This concert special celebrates music’s power to heal and bring diverse people together.
THE WARRIOR TRADITION — VETERANS DAY & NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH
Monday, November 11, 9:00 p.m. ET
Learn the heartbreaking, inspiring and largely untold story of Native Americans in the United States military. The film relates the stories of Native American warriors from their own points of view — stories of service, pain, courage and fear.
AMERICAN MASTERS “N. Scott Momaday: Words from a Bear” – NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH
Monday, November 18, 9:00 p.m. ET
Delve into the enigmatic life and mind of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and poet N. Scott Momaday, best known for “House Made of Dawn,” and a formative voice of the Native American Renaissance in art and literature.
ANTIQUES ROADSHOW “Extraordinary Finds”
Monday, November 4, 8:00 p.m. ET
In honor of ROADSHOW’s 500th episode, look back at pivotal moments of some of the most amazing objects, and enjoy all-new interviews, appraisal updates and more.
NOVA “The Fall of Violence”
Wednesday, November 20, 9:00 p.m. ET
Despite the constant news of violence, Steven Pinker believes we’re living in the most peaceful period in human history. Journey through history and the human mind to explore why violence has diminished — and how we might create a more peaceful world.
NOVA “Animal Espionage”
Wednesday, November 27, 9:00 p.m. ET
Camera traps and drones are revolutionizing the study of wildlife by providing an up-close look at animals without disturbing them. See how these technologies are helping us understand everything from mysterious whale behavior to tiger migration.
This fall, PBS brings viewers broadcast premieres of Broadway’s best every Friday night, beginning November 1.
GREAT PERFORMANCES “42nd Street”
Friday, November 1, 9:00 p.m. ET
Tap-dance along to this musical extravaganza about a starry-eyed performer who gets her big break on Broadway, set to a lively score of iconic songs including “Lullaby of Broadway,” “We’re in the Money” and the show-stopping title song.
GREAT PERFORMANCES “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I”
Friday, November 8, 9:00 p.m. ET
Kelli O’Hara and Ken Watanabe star in a Tony Award-winning revival of the beloved musical about a British school teacher instructing the royal children of the King of Siam, featuring classic songs including “Hello, Young Lovers” and “Shall We Dance.”
GREAT PERFORMANCES “Red”
Friday, November 15, 9:00 p.m. ET
Experience the passion of painter Mark Rothko in this six-time Tony-winning play dramatizing Rothko’s greatest challenge, creating the murals for New York’s iconic Four Seasons restaurant. Stars Alfred Molina with Alfred Enoch as Rothko’s assistant.
GREAT PERFORMANCES “Much Ado About Nothing”
Friday, November 22, 9:00 p.m. ET
Recorded live at The Public Theater’s Free Shakespeare in the Park, this modern interpretation of Shakespeare’s romantic classic with an all-black cast features Danielle Brooks and Grantham Coleman. Directed by Tony Award winner Kenny Leon.
GREAT PERFORMANCES “Kinky Boots”
Friday, November 29, 9:00 p.m. ET
Rejoice with the Tony Award-winning high-heeled hit musical with songs by pop icon Cyndi Lauper and a book by Broadway legend Harvey Fierstein about an unexpected duo that embraces their differences to create an extraordinary line of shoes.
PBS fall programming will be available for streaming on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video App, available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Chromecast. PBS station members will be available to view all episodes via Passport (contact your local PBS station for details).
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