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PBS JOINS FORCES WITH NPR TO PRODUCE LIVE PRE-ELECTION VOTER'S GUIDE

-- PBS Also Unveils Scorsese Series on Blues Music, Specials on New World of Bioengineering and Ancient World of Egypt, Acclaimed Documentary "42 Up" --

PASADENA, CA, July 13, 2000 -- Two of PBS's award-winning news and public affairs programs - THE NEWSHOUR WITH JIM LEHRER and FRONTLINE - will join forces with NPR (National Public Radio) in an unprecedented live election broadcast in November, it was announced today at the Television Critics Association Press Tour. PBS also unveiled a mini-series on American blues music from Martin Scorsese, new programs about ancient Egypt and the complex science of bioengineering, as well as the U.S. broadcast premiere of "42 Up," the latest installment in Michael Apted's critically acclaimed group portraits that take place at seven-year intervals.

"We're delighted to bring together NPR, FRONTLINE and the NEWSHOUR to create an electronic voters guide six days before the election," said Pat Mitchell, president and chief executive officer, PBS. "This unprecedented combination of journalistic resources will provide voters with everything they need to make an informed choice on the presidential race."

TIME TO CHOOSE - A PBS/NPR VOTER'S GUIDE, a live, three-hour broadcast originating from five PBS stations around the country, will examine the critical issues and questions that determine each voter's decision this November. The program, part of PBS's Democracy Project, will air on Wednesday, November 1, from 8:00 to 11:00pm ET, on PBS and NPR stations (check local listings).

The program, simulcast on PBS and NPR, will be anchored from Washington, D.C. by NEWSHOUR executive editor and anchor Jim Lehrer, who will be joined by NPR's Juan Williams, host of "Talk of the Nation," NPR political correspondent Elizabeth Arnold, and THE NEWSHOUR'S Gwen Ifill, Margaret Warner, Ray Suarez and Elizabeth Farnsworth.

Using documentary reporting produced by FRONTLINE, TIME TO CHOOSE will present the issues in the campaign - both large and small - that are important to voters. The program will connect sites in five cities - Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco, New York and Washington, D.C. - enabling a national conversation and lively discussion of the issues among citizens, key campaign advisors, journalists and opinion leaders.

TIME TO CHOOSE will be accompanied by an extensive Web site that will allow viewers and listeners to respond to questions posed during the program, the results of which will be reported on the site and on the air. The Web site will launch on Tuesday, October 10 in conjunction with the premiere of FRONTLINE's dual biographies of the presidential candidates, "The Choice 2000," and will allow people to create personalized voter portfolios that will link users to others who might share beliefs on specific issues.

TIME TO CHOOSE - A PBS/NPR VOTER'S GUIDE will be produced by MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, working with PBS, FRONTLINE and NPR. The program is funded in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

Acclaimed director and blues aficionado Martin Scorsese will executive-produce THE BLUES, a multi-part documentary series on the evolution of a quintessential American art form, with Jody Patton of Clear Blue Sky Productions. Originating in the polyrhythms that Africans slaves brought to America, this raw, emotional sound evolved into mournful work chants as it swirled throughout the Mississippi Delta. It moved upriver after the Civil War as "freedmen" searched for the promised land in the factories of Memphis and the streets of Chicago. Rude, roiled or refined, blues music has traveled the world ever since, speaking to people everywhere of the dislocation, yearnings and heartbreak, and inspiring musical genres from country and folk to soul, rock and hip-hop.

Tracing its birth from many distinctive geographical areas and musical strains, THE BLUES will introduce viewers to key places (West Africa, Chicago, Memphis) and times, recreating their special tones and textures. It will profile the extraordinary bluesmen and women - Robert Johnson, Son House, Muddy Waters and Bessie Smith among them - who nurtured the blues through its first century. Scorsese has enlisted a team of internationally renowned filmmakers, including Michael Apted, Charles Burnett, Spike Lee, Marc Levin and Wim Wenders, to put their particular stamp on individual episodes. THE BLUES will be accompanied by a Web site, home video, CD box set of rare and classic tunes, and companion book.

The series is produced by Blues, Inc., a joint venture of Clear Blue Sky Productions, Cappa Productions (Scorsese's production company) and Offline Entertainment Group. Alex Gibney of Offline and Margaret Bodde of Cappa will serve as series producers.

On the science and history front, PBS is developing two new programs in collaboration with Devillier Donegan Enterprises (DDE). BEYOND HUMAN is an unprecedented two-hour special that explores bioengineering. In the fascinating synergy between biology and technology, humans are becoming more machine-like and machines are becoming more human. The first hour illustrates remarkable advances in genetics and bioengineering that improve and mechanize our bodies. Computer-controlled hands, auditory implants, retinal implants and optic advancements demonstrate how the new technology revolutionizes all systems in the human body. Hour two introduces a new breed of robots that are smarter and more "human" than ever. Engineers are making new discoveries about the human brain to design artificial beings that can think and live on their own. Humanoid robots at the chess table, in outer space and in the workplace steadily blur the line between man and machine. The series is produced by Thomas Lucas Productions in association with PBS and DDE.

EGYPT: THE NEW KINGDOM presents the most extraordinary period in Egyptian history. This three-hour Empiresú special focuses on the period from 1567 B.C. to 1085 B.C., when the Egyptian Empire reached its apogee. Legendary characters such as the great beauty Nefertiti, the boy-king Tutankhamun, the female pharaoh Hatshepsut, the heretical monotheistic Pharaoh Akhenaten, and perhaps the greatest of all pharaohs, Ramses II, all figure in this ancient tale. There is also a surprising story behind the role that common people played: Builders of awe-inspiring temples turned out not to be slaves, but rather workers with eight-hour days and long lunch breaks, and women were remarkably modern in their outlook and rights. From warrior kings to plotting queens and murderously jealous children, the series presents in intimate detail the hopes, dreams and quests of royalty and ordinary folk alike. The series is a production of Lion Television Limited in association with PBS and DDE.

PBS will present the American broadcast premiere of "42 Up," the latest in a series of landmark documentaries by director Michael Apted that began with "7 Up" in 1964. In the first program for Granada Television, Apted interviewed 14 children from diverse backgrounds in England, with the premise of studying class divisions and examining the Jesuit theory, "Give me the child until he is seven, and I will show you the man." The film was so well received that Apted returned to those children every seventh year to chart their progress, creating the highly regarded "7 Up" series, now the longest running real-life documentary ever made.

In "42 Up," released theatrically in November 1999 (as was Apted's James Bond film "The World Is Not Enough"), 11 of the original 14 subjects returned to share the latest chapter of their lives. There were many changes. Bruce, painfully shy, is now teaching and has gotten married; Susan, a rebellious aristocrat, provides bereavement counseling; and Neil, who captivated viewers as a bright, lovable middle-class seven-year old who then struggled with mental illness and poverty, eventually finished college and is currently a councilman.

"42 Up" is a Granada Television Production for the BBC, distributed by First Run Features. It is produced and directed by Michael Apted; Claire Lewis is the co-producer.

PBS, headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, is a private, nonprofit media enterprise owned and operated by the nation's 348 public television stations. A trusted community resource, PBS uses the power of noncommercial television, the Internet and other media to enrich the lives of all Americans through quality programs and education services that inform, inspire and delight. Available to 99 percent of American homes with televisions and to an increasing number of digital multimedia households, PBS serves nearly 100 million people each week. More information about PBS is available at www.pbs.org.

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