Series Blog

Archive for Behind The Scenes

We're officially 25 years old!

Over the past 25 years, American Experience has produced close to 300 films and nearly 400 hours of television. If you were to sit down in front of the television tonight and decided to watch one of our films each night, it would take you nearly a YEAR to consume our entire body of work (probably longer, because we have several five and six-part films)! Which one would you start with first? Which of our 287 films (and counting) do you tell your friends and family they MUST see first? We certainly couldn't choose, but somehow we whittled it down to a much more manageable 16, representing the different genres of films we've produced since 1988. Now YOU can help us determine which AMERICAN EXPERIENCE is the best by voting in our Best of AMERICAN EXPERIENCE bracket. Each round lasts four days, and by October 18, we will have a champion! Vote now!


Just as the weather starts heating up, many offices start slowing down, but not here at AMERICAN EXPERIENCE! With five hours of new programming, including our epic two-part documentary on JFK premiering in the fall, our staff has been hard at work. In June alone we have already had five screenings for various films in different levels of production. While this has become old hat to everyone here on staff, we realize that our viewers may not always be aware of the process our films go through before they air.

Staff Favorite Films

This Fall, American Experience will celebrate its 25th anniversary. That's 25 years of documentaries broadcast on PBS -- 287 films, 399 hours of programming, and 428 nights of television. Everyone has a favorite, including all of us on staff at American Experience, and we want to share that with you. As part of our 25th anniversary celebration, we are going to publish a Staff Favorite Film blog post every month, starting today.

Abolitionist Map of America Project

In August, after moving to Boston, Massachusetts from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, I started working for American Experience on the Abolitionist Map of America project -- an interactive map also featured on the brand new American Experience: Mapping History iPhone app. I grew up in Monticello, Mississippi, and I have always been fascinated by the history of the Civil Rights Movement -- how the efforts of a few individuals who recognized that it was time for change and progress led to one of the most significant social advancements in the history of this country. And I was thrilled to be working on this project, bringing awareness of the often forgotten heroes from the first Civil Rights movement in American history -- the abolitionist movement.

The Characters in The Abolitionists

When we first began the task of tackling the history of abolitionism four years ago, we were faced with a daunting task: the movement spanned decades, the leaders were numerous, the history complicated and the scholarly literature voluminous. And yet there was no book that told the overarching story of the abolitionists, and no guide for capturing the courage and struggles of these remarkable civil rights heroes. We decided that the way to grab the attention of a broad television audience was to focus on a handful of key characters -- that is, to create a character-driven mini-series set against the backdrop of a tumultuous time in American history.

Michael Dobbs on the Cuban Missile Crisis

Author and Journalist Michael Dobbs spoke with American Experience about the Cuban missile crisis, which began 50 years ago today, for our upcoming biography of JFK. Read his quotes about what President Kennedy knew and didn't know as the crisis unfolded.