PBS Announces Innovative New Programming for Kids, Teens and Adults
Local Stations Will Provide Content for National Series
ALEXANDRIA, VA - October 24, 2000 - A new weekly series devoted to America's everyday heroes, a groundbreaking exploration of the world of high school students, and customized local content for a popular kids' series top the line-up of programs coming to the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). In announcing the new series, PBS president and chief executive officer Pat Mitchell underscored PBS's commitment to viewers of all ages and to the integration of locally produced content into nationally distributed programs.
"These programs give voice to a geographically and ethnically diverse cross-section of Americans of all ages. In a television environment that often confuses celebrities with heroes, PBS will present a new weekly series, LIFE IN BOLD, spotlighting compelling stories of extraordinary achievement by ordinary people," said Ms. Mitchell. "We're also very pleased to offer AMERICAN HIGH, an observational documentary series that portrays contemporary American adolescents with remarkable depth and insight. And ZOOM, already a popular interactive outlet for younger viewers, will become even more relevant with a format-shattering local/national option."
A one-hour magazine series that premieres in fall 2001, LIFE IN BOLD (w.t.) will report the achievements of men and women who face change and challenges in their communities and schools, in medicine and technology, and in government and the arts. The series is a co-production of Oregon Public Broadcasting and ABC News "Nightline," in collaboration with public television stations and independent producers across the country. "Nightline" correspondent Michel Martin, an award-winning journalist with nearly two decades of experience reporting for ABC News, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, will host the program.
Each week's edition of LIFE IN BOLD will present three to five segments of varying lengths, comprised of original productions from independent producers and PBS stations. Dramatic pieces, intimate first-person narratives, essays and performances will come forth from a variety of new voices in public broadcasting, both behind and in front of the camera. Planned as a fully integrated media experience, an extensive LIFE IN BOLD Web portal will enable viewers to connect more intimately with the program subjects and their local stations.
Janet Tobias, commissioning executive of public affairs programming for OPB, will be the series' executive producer. Tom Bettag, executive producer of ABC News' "Nightline" and John Lindsay, senior vice president of television production at OPB, are co-executives in charge of production. The series is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and PBS member stations through a special PBS/CPB Growth Fund.
AMERICAN HIGH, scheduled to premiere in April 2001, is a non-fiction drama series produced and directed by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker R.J. Cutler (The War Room, A Perfect Candidate). He and his filmmaking team spent the 1999-2000 school year with 14 juniors and seniors at Highland Park High School in suburban Chicago. Footage of students and their parents, supplemented by the students' own "video diaries," intimately chronicles their lives in and out of school as they face family conflicts, romance, and issues of sexual identity, loneliness, peer pressure, grades and decisions about college.
Four 22-minute episodes of AMERICAN HIGH originally aired on Fox, and critics praised the program for its smart, hip and realistic look at high school life from the inside out. PBS will present fourteen 27-minute episodes, all of which will contain new material. PBS will schedule the series, which includes a one-hour graduation finale, in a unique way. Two episodes will air back-to-back in primetime each week, with the second episode of one week repeated as the first episode of the following week. An expansive Web site will accompany the series.
R.J. Cutler, Erwin More, Brian Medavoy and Cheryl Stanley serve as executive producers of AMERICAN HIGH, which is produced by Actual Reality Pictures in association with 20th Century Fox Television. Funding is provided by PBS.
Finally, PBS member stations will have the opportunity to localize the popular interactive weekday kids' series ZOOM for their communities, starting in the program's fourth season in 2002. The half-hour program features a cast of pre-teen kids playing, performing, reading and tackling everything from science experiments to recipes ÷ all inspired by ideas from viewers across the country.
The new format will allow stations to lift segments and replace them with locally produced content. Stations will be able to decide how much local content, if any, they wish to add. Possibilities could include community bulletin boards or kids hosting local segments.
WGBH Boston, which produces the program for PBS, will provide stations with kits containing ideas, scripts, guidelines and information to facilitate the local production process. ZOOM's new local/national format will be reflected on its Web site, at ZOOMzonesú in museums nationwide, and in outreach materials.
Kate Taylor is executive producer of ZOOM;; Jim Johnston is producer. Funding for the series is provided by PBS member stations and the National Science Foundation. Funding for local segments is derived from the PBS/CPB Growth Fund.
PBS, headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, is a private, nonprofit media enterprise owned and operated by the nation's 347 public television stations. Serving nearly 100 million people each week, PBS enriches the lives of all Americans through quality programs and education services on noncommercial television, the Internet and other media. More information about PBS is available at www.pbs.org.