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PBS “EXPERIMENTS” WITH THREE NEW SCIENCE PILOTS STARTING NEW YEAR’S DAY
Viewers Invited to Help Select Next New Weekly PBS Science SeriesTargeted to Premiere Fall 2007
In search of the next new science series, PBS will premiere three pilots on New Year’s Day via streaming video on pbs.org, with the television broadcasts kicking off January 3 at 8:00 p.m. ET on PBS member stations. Audiences nationwide will be invited to weigh in on their favorite, and the ultimate choice will move on to become a new 10-week series projected to debut in fall 2007.
This is the first time PBS has introduced full specials online in advance of the television broadcast, offering a unique interactive dialogue with viewers about the programs they are seeking from their public television stations. The announcement was made by John Boland, Chief Content Officer, PBS.
“Technology is not only allowing PBS member stations more opportunities to provide viewers even greater access to the best content available, but also new ways to interact with our audiences, delivering a level of value and engagement that only a public service media environment can,” said Mr. Boland.
The three new pilots include WIRED SCIENCE, a production of KCET Los Angeles in association with Wired magazine; SCIENCE INVESTIGATORS, from WGBH Boston and Lion TV; and 22ND CENTURY, a co-production of Boston Science Communications, Inc. and Towers Productions in collaboration with Twin Cities Public Television. Each special will be available via free streaming video on pbs.org and as free video podcasts on Apple’s iTunes player. The PBS television broadcasts begin January 3 for three consecutive Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m. (check local listings); on-air promos will invite the audiences to submit reviews of the shows online at each of the program sites accessible through pbs.org/science. Viewer feedback, as well as additional audience-based research, will help inform PBS’ decision to greenlight one pilot as the next new science series slated to premiere with an initial 10-week run in fall 2007.
“Popular, long-running shows like NOVA and specials such as THE ELEGANT UNIVERSE have proven that the American public has a rich appetite for science-related programming, and research has told us that they are looking for more high-quality choices from PBS,” added John F. Wilson, Senior Vice President & Chief TV Programming Executive, PBS.
The science pilots were funded by a special grant co-managed by CPB (Corporation for Public Broadcasting) and PBS. The initiative was inspired by the results of a CPB primetime research study that indicated strong viewer interest in PBS science-related programming. From an initial request for proposals that yielded more than 19 submissions, PBS winnowed the field to the three finalists below:
Wednesday, January 3, 2007, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET
WIRED SCIENCE is a one-hour program that translates Wired magazine’s award-winning journalism into a fast-paced television show. WIRED SCIENCE brings Wired magazine’s cutting-edge vision, stylish design and irreverent attitude to the screen with breakout ideas, recent discoveries and the latest innovations. The pilot episode takes the viewer into the world of meteorite hunters, where space, commerce and art intersect; travels to Yellowstone National Park to harvest viruses that may hold the key to a technology revolution; and dives underwater to explore NEEMO, NASA’s extreme astronaut training facility. Viewers will meet rocket-belt inventors, stem cell explorers and the developer of an electric car that goes from zero-to-60 in under four seconds. As a series, WIRED SCIENCE hopes to span the globe to uncover novel developments in biomedicine, space exploration, artificial intelligence, neuroscience, robotics and military technology. January 1 Website launch: pbs.org/wired science
The hosts and personalities of WIRED SCIENCE include Brian Unger, a contributor to NPR’s “Day to Day,” frequent guest host on MSNBC’s “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” and former correspondent for the “Daily Show”; Aomawa Shields, a graduate of MIT and author of the essay “Universe: The Sequel,” which is included in She’s Such a Geek: Women Write About Science, Technology, and Other Nerdy Stuff (Seal Press); and Ziya Tong, who hosted the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Emmy-nominated interactive series “Zed,” a pioneer of “open source” television. In addition, Wired senior editor Adam Rogers and roving reporters, such as Pulitzer Prize winner Dan Neil, will bring a fresh, youthful, and diverse perspective to the topics. (Adam Rogers is available for interviews.)
WIRED SCIENCE is a co-production of KCET/Los Angeles, the West Coast flagship station of PBS, and Wired, the pre-eminent science and technology magazine. WIRED SCIENCE is a production of executive producer Tod Mesirow (“MythBusters,” “Monster Garage”), senior producer David Axelrod (Emmy winner for the NOVA special “Galileo’s Battle for the Heavens”) and production designer Grant Major (Lord of the Rings trilogy, King Kong). David Byrne, Grammy- and Oscar-winning composer (The Last Emperor) and co-founder of the Talking Heads, produced the theme music for the show. Executive producer for KCET is Karen Hunte; executive in charge of production for KCET is Mary Mazur. Executive producer for Wired magazine is Melanie Cornwell; Chris Anderson is Wired’s editor in chief.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET
SCIENCE INVESTIGATORS is a new and groundbreaking television program that takes a 21st century, cutting-edge approach to the subject of science. The show will provide solutions to a series of scientific mysteries in a fresh, captivating way. Full of information told through compelling stories, the pilot series is presented by four young, lively hosts, armed with the latest gadgets and technology, who make this a science show with attitude for the blog generation. In the first episode, SCIENCE INVESTIGATORS asks: What can DNA from a more than 30,000-year-old Neanderthal man tell us about ourselves? Are vanishing frogs an early warning sign of hazards to come? Why is the knuckleball one of the most mind-boggling pitches in baseball? Will bacteria be used to power iPods in the future? SI also tells the moving story of an injured Iraq war veteran searching for a better bionic arm. Finally, are NASCAR drivers ready for a new kind of racecar—one that’s all electric? January 1 Website launch: pbs.org/si
SCIENCE INVESTIGATORS is a Lion Television and WGBH Science Unit Production. Executive producers are Chris Bryson, Nick Catliff (British Academy Award winner), Tony Tackaberry (HISTORY DETECTIVES, a top-rated PBS summer series) and Susanne Simpson, Academy Award nominee and Emmy winner. Hosts are Basil Singer, physicist and robotics expert; Victoria Bruce, geologist, author of the best-seller No Apparent Danger; Kevin Hand, astrobiologist at Stanford and Princeton Universities; and Bahareh Azizi, biochemist and lecturer at Georgia Institute of Technology. Executive-in-charge is Paula S. Apsell, senior executive producer of NOVA, the most-watched science documentary series in the world.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET
What is the world going to be like 30 years from now? Will human life spans increase to 250 years or more? Will personal computers be smarter than the humans who use them? Will machines shrink to a micro-level so small that they can make repairs inside a human cell? This series is about dramatic changes being made by scientific and technological research conducted in laboratories across the globe today. The pilot episode, called “World Wide Mind,” is about a new theory that suggests that in the coming decades all our brains will be wired together just as computers were wired together via the World Wide Web during the 1990s. Each episode will be driven by three characters viewing these scientific advances from a different perspective. One will be an actor portraying Aldous Huxley, late author of Brave New World, who worried about the dehumanizing consequences of new technology. The second will be an impartial observer from the present, an everyday person who, like our viewers, is affected by the changes taking place. The third will be a character from the future, who presents an optimistic view of all the possibilities these technologies offer. January 1 Website launch: pbs.org/22ndcentury
22ND CENTURY is a co-production of Towers Productions and Boston Science Communications, Inc. in collaboration with Twin Cities Public Television. The director and executive producer of 22ND CENTURY is Gino Del Guercio (RED GOLD, TRANSISTORIZED, NERDS 2.0.1); production executive is John Lindsay (winner of six Emmy Awards); the composer is Charles Denler; animation is produced by Xvivo; the producers are Tresha Mabile and Scott Alexander; the host is Robin Robinson; the two characters are played by Mindy Bell and John Cunningham.
PBS is a media enterprise that serves 354 public noncommercial television stations and reaches almost 90 million people each week through on-air and online content. Bringing diverse viewpoints to television and the Internet, PBS provides high-quality documentary and dramatic entertainment, and consistently dominates the most prestigious award competitions. PBS is a leading provider of educational materials for K-12 teachers, and offers a broad array of other educational services. PBS’ premier kids’ TV programming and Web site, PBS KIDS Online (pbskids.org), continue to be parents’ and teachers’ most trusted learning environments for children. More information about PBS is available at pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org Web sites on the Internet.
Carrie Johnson, PBS, 703/739-5129; email@example.com