PBS Investigates Bioterror Past, Present and Future in Two Specials Airing Tuesday, November 13
"NOVA" Documentary, Produced With New York Times, Probes the Origins and Current Threat of Germ Warfare; Author Judith Miller Featured, 8-9:30 PM; Special Hosted by NPR's Scott Simon Follows With Expert Perspectives and Advice, 9:30-10 PM
Alexandria, VA, November 1, 2001 - In our frightening new post-September 11 world, it seems that information about anthrax and other potential weapons of bioterror is plentiful, but confusing and often contradictory. PBS will probe the roots and realities of this new threat in two specials airing on Tuesday, November 13 (check local listings). At 8 pm, NOVA/WGBH Boston partners with reporters from The New York Times to investigate the dark past and current prospects of germ warfare in a new 90-minute documentary "Bioterror." At 9:30 pm, WETA Washington, D.C. presents a half-hour special, BIOTERROR: COPING WITH A NEW REALITY (w.t.), that follows up on issues raised by NOVA and offers practical advice from leading experts. NPR's Scott Simon hosts.
NOVA "Bioterror," a two-year investigation, is reported by The New York Times team behind the bestseller Germs: Biological Weapons and America's Secret War - Judith Miller, a specialist in Middle Eastern terrorism; Stephen Engelberg, an investigations editor and intelligence reporter; and Bill Broad, a Pulitzer Prize-winning science journalist. Ironically, their book was published on the day of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks; they have since found themselves at the forefront of the bioterror story. Miller herself received a letter at her Times office purporting to contain powdered anthrax.
The reporters educate viewers on the secret biological revolution that was pioneered by the United States in the '40s, subsequently refined by the Soviet Union, and then adopted by Iraq and terrorist cells around the world. NOVA "Bioterror" offers the first-ever look into the remains of the Anti-Plague Institute and the Scientific Research Agricultural Institute in Kazakhstan (part of the former Soviet Union) as well as interviews with the scientists whose job it was to create the perfect weapon. The program also features an inspection of the Nevada test site where the U.S. Defense Department recently demonstrated how a germ factory could be created with off-the-shelf equipment available from medical suppliers.
Experts include: U.S. Congressman Christopher Shays; bio-warriors Bill Patrick, Richard Spetzel, Riley Housewright, and defecting Soviets Ken Ailbek and Sergei Popov; former U.S. government officials Jack McGeorge and Richard Danzig; National War College professor Robert Kadlec; and Sandia Laboratory scientist Al Zelicoff.
NOVA "Bioterror" is written and produced by Rocky Collins and directed by Kirk Wolfinger. Paula S. Apsell is series executive producer and executive-in-charge of production. Charles Tremayne is executive producer for Granada Factuals USA. The program is a NOVA production by Granada Factuals USA and Lone Wolf Pictures, Inc. for WGBH Boston.
NOVA's companion Web site to "Bioterror" launches Friday, November 9 at http://www.pbs.org/nova/bioterror/. Among the features available online will be an illustrated timeline exploring the history of biowarfare and bioterrorism; an excerpt from the book Germs: Biological Weapons and America's Secret War; a global guide to bioweapons, and an interactive area of the site demonstrating how vaccines are made today and how they protect us. Many other features, including an extensive resource list, frequently asked questions, and breaking news from THE NEWSHOUR WITH JIM LEHRER are available at the site now. Photos may be accessed at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/bioterror/press.html/.
Now in its 29th season, NOVA is produced for PBS by the WGBH Science Unit. The director of the WGBH Science Unit and executive producer of NOVA is Paula S. Apsell. NOVA is closed captioned for deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers by The Caption Center at WGBH Boston. Narrated descriptions of NOVA programs are provided by Descriptive Video Service¨ (DVS¨), a national service of WGBH Boston. Major funding for NOVA is provided by the Park Foundation, the Northwestern Mutual Foundation, and Sprint PCS¨. Additional funding is provided by CPB and public television viewers.
The half-hour BIOTERROR: COPING WITH A NEW REALITY, produced by WETA Washington, D.C. and Larry Klein (BUILDING BIG, NOVA "Mind of a Serial Killer"), will dispel myths and reveal what we as individuals and as a society can do to deal with this new and threatening reality. The program will feature experts offering clear perspectives about the questions on everyone's mind, from the need to take antibiotics like Cipro to the availability of vaccines, to the steps we need to take to protect our families and ourselves.
Among the experts in the program are Dr. David Fleming, deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control, and Dr. Margaret Hamburg, former chief epidemiologist for New York City and former undersecretary of Health and Human Services. Detailed graphics will be included throughout the program.
BIOTERROR: COPING WITH A NEW REALITY is a production of WETA Washington, D.C. Jeff Bieber is executive producer; Larry Klein is producer and Mark Olshaker is the writer. Dalton Delan is the WETA executive-in-charge. The special is funded by grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and PBS.
PBS, headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, is a private, nonprofit media enterprise owned and operated by the nation's 349 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 PBS.org.
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WETA Washington, D.C.