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PBS ANNOUNCES THREE NEW PROGRAMS
– GOD IN AMERICA, THE BUDDHA and THE CALLING Slated for 2010 –
EXPLORING MANY PATHS TO FAITH, SPIRITUALITY
Pasadena, CA (August 2, 2009) – PBS will present three documentaries that explore faith and the varieties of religious expression in the United States — one of the most religiously observant and spiritually diverse countries in the world. GOD IN AMERICA, THE BUDDHA and THE CALLING will air in 2010 on PBS.
“For many Americans, exploring religion and faith is one of life’s biggest and most central questions, and PBS offers some of the most compelling, wide-ranging programming on this subject any where on television,” said John F. Wilson, PBS Chief TV Programming Executive. “In 2010, viewers will be able to enhance their understanding from three different documentary perspectives providing a truly multi-dimensional experience that will also continue online with materials and video.”
GOD IN AMERICA, a six-hour documentary series from AMERICAN EXPERIENCE and FRONTLINE, targeted to air in fall 2010 on PBS, will tell the sweeping and dramatic story of religious life in America, examining more than 500 years of American religious history from the voyage of Christopher Columbus to the 2008 presidential election. GOD IN AMERICA will examine this history as it has played out in public life, exploring the complex interaction between religion and democracy in the United States; the origins of the American concept of religious liberty; the dynamics of the ever-evolving American religious marketplace; and the vital role played by religious ideas and institutions in many social reform movements in the country’s history.
The United States, primarily a Judeo-Christian nation until recently, now encompasses theological groups relatively unknown in the early days of the republic. Buddhism — the world’s fourth largest religion after Christianity, Islam and Hinduism — has been steadily gaining adherents in America. THE BUDDHA, a two-hour documentary from Emmy Award winner David Grubin, relates the life of the Indian sage who famously gained enlightenment as he sat beneath a fig tree two-and-a-half millennia ago. This film tells the Buddha’s story through painting and sculptures by some of the world’s greatest artists and tracks his biography across the sweeping landscapes of northern India. The testimony of contemporary Buddhists, from Pulitzer Prize-winning poet W.S. Merwin to the Dalai Lama, provide insight into the ancient narrative of the man who never claimed to be God or God’s emissary, but merely a human being who, in a world of unavoidable pain and suffering, had achieved a serenity that others, too, could find. THE BUDDHA is slated to air in spring 2010 on PBS.
THE CALLING, from independent producer Danny Alpert, The Kindling Group, is a four-hour documentary series that follows eight individuals on their dramatic journey into the clergy from the perspective of different faiths — Islam, Catholicism, Evangelical Christianity and Judaism. A new look at an old job, religious leadership, the series takes viewers into the unknown world of seminaries to tell the compelling stories of young, dynamic and thoughtful subjects, all of whom struggle to balance religious convictions, rigorous academics, personal relationships, dedication to lifelong service — and occasional spells of ambivalence and uncertainty. The resulting portraits provide a rich, nuanced portrayal of faith in America. THE CALLING will air in 2010 (season TBD) on PBS.
PBS, with its 357 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.
Carrie Johnson, PBS
Michelle Werts, PBS