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PBS ANNOUNCES “CIRCUS”
NEW MULTI-PART SERIES PREMIERES FALL 2010

Award-Winning Cinematographers of Acclaimed CARRIER Series
Turn Their Lenses on Performers and Their Stories for Intimate Look

PBS Press Tour; Los Angeles, CA; January 7, 2009 -- In a world that offers a dizzying array of amusements and entertainments, there is none quite so enduring or universal as the circus. Now, over the course of many dramatic hours, Show of Force, the team who brought viewers the Emmy Award-winning PBS series CARRIER, turn their lenses on the circus — not just under the big top, but far beyond it — into what circus folk call “the backyard,” the place where the trailers are parked and the real heart of the circus beats. Slated to premiere in fall 2010 on PBS, CIRCUS will illuminate the sights, sounds and stories of this fascinating cultural heritage.

“CIRCUS will let viewers escape into this world, see it as never before and understand what it takes to live this life — virtually an art form — that dates back centuries,” says John Boland, PBS Chief Content Officer. “We will enrich the revelations and discovery even more through deep and dynamic online and educational components.”

With unprecedented access granted by the Big Apple Circus, the filmmakers will follow the traveling company over the course of an entire season, showcasing the circus community’s wandering caravan, “the city without a zip code.” Viewers will witness the circus as a world unto itself, with its own lingo, rules and tight-knit community. Among the 150 adults who make up the company, there are the expected clowns, tightrope walkers, trapeze artists and animal trainers, as well as carpenters, electricians, concessionaires (known in circus lingo as “butchers”), musicians, ushers, cooks, teachers and even clergy. Performers come from all over the world to travel with Big Apple — the Nanjing Duo from China, the Flying Neves from Brazil, the Rodion Troupe from Russia, Olivier Taquin from Belgium and Sultan Kumisbayev from Kazakhstan — making a diverse traveling family.

“As a filmmaker, it has been an incredible window into a cultural legacy that has never been explored before with this depth and honesty,” said Maro Chermayeff, executive producer, co-creator and director.

Going behind the scenes, the cameras capture the training and rehearsals, the flubs and foibles, the bravery and the intensity of life — and work — in the circus. Along the way, viewers will get lessons in how to juggle, walk a tightrope and do a triple somersault.

The series also will offer a revealing look at the ways in which the company of a traveling big top circus governs itself. Constantly in motion, startlingly insular and completely interdependent for months on end, the circus community demands a uniquely high level of sociability, diplomacy and flat-out patience. CIRCUS will explore the various ways the company navigates conflict, internally and with outsiders, underscoring just how challenging it can be to spend every day and night for nine or 10 months straight with 150 other people of differing nationalities, belief systems and backgrounds.

A fresh and highly current combination of cinema vérité and unscripted drama will allow viewers to fully explore the texture of circus life — and, in the process, illuminate its enduring mystery and allure.

CIRCUS will feature an interactive, Web-based educational outreach component that will further explore not only the ideas and issues raised by the programs, but the circus’ lengthy and storied history in the United States as well. Providing a broad spectrum of engaging components — from series outtakes to circus trivia, from online interactive debates to exclusive video clips that reveal the secrets of the modern circus — the Web site will promote the series to new viewers, allow current viewers to dig deeper into the show’s content and offer educators a variety of tech-savvy, attention-grabbing ways to utilize the physical, scientific and historical bases of the circus in their curricula.

CIRCUS is a production of Show of Force. Created, Executive Produced and Directed by Maro Chermayeff and Jeff Dupre. Produced by Matthew Akers.

PBS, with its 356 member stations, offers all Americans — from every walk of life — the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and online content. Each month, PBS reaches more than 115 million people on-air and online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; hear diverse viewpoints; and take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’ broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. PBS’ premier children’s TV programming and Web site, pbskids.org, are parents’ and teachers’ most trusted partners in inspiring and nurturing curiosity and love of learning in children. More information about PBS is available at www.pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org Web sites on the Internet.

-PBS-


Contacts:
Carrie Johnson, PBS, 703-739-5129; cjohnson@pbs.org
Michelle Werts, PBS, 703-739-5135; mjwerts@pbs.org


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