Rx for Survival — A Global Health Challenge

» skip to the content

The Television Broadcasts

Rx for Survival — A Global Health Challenge is a co-production of WGBH/NOVA Science Unit and Vulcan Productions.

WGBH/NOVA Science Unit

WGBH Boston is America's preeminent public broadcasting producer, the source of fully one-third of PBS's prime-time lineup, along with some of public television's best-known lifestyle and children's programs and many public radio favorites. One of its premiere programs, NOVA, is a production of the WGBH/NOVA Science Unit. Now in its 31st year of broadcasting, NOVA is the most popular science series on American television and is seen in more than 100 countries. It is also one of television's most acclaimed series, having won every major television award, most of them many times over. NOVA's programs are used extensively in classrooms around the country and the NOVA website is consistently the most trafficked on pbs.org. In 1998, the National Science Board of the National Science Foundation awarded NOVA its first-ever Public Service Award. NOVA has won every major broadcasting award, including the Emmy, the Peabody, the AAAS Westinghouse Science Journalism Award, and the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Gold Baton. For more information on WGBH and NOVA, respectively, visit www.wgbh.org and www.pbs.org/nova.

back to top

Paula S. Apsell

Senior Executive Producer, NOVA
Director of the WGBH Science Unit

Paula S. Aspell got her start in broadcasting at WGBH Boston, where she was hired fresh out of Brandeis University to type the public broadcaster's daily television program logs — a job that Apsell notes is now, mercifully, automated. Within a year, she found her way to WGBH Radio, where she developed the award-winning children's drama series The Spider's Web, and later became a radio news producer. But her real interest lay in television and science. In 1975, she joined a fledgling WGBH-produced national series that would set the standard for science programming on television: NOVA.

Apsell produced a number of critically acclaimed NOVA episodes before joining Dr. Timothy Johnson at WCVB, the ABC affiliate in Boston, as senior producer for medical programming. In 1983, she spent a year studying at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a Knight Fellow, then called the Vannevar Bush Fellowship in the Public Understanding of Science. She returned to WGBH in 1984 to become executive producer of NOVA, guiding the series into today's highly competitive, multimedia environment.

In addition to the programs in the regular NOVA television schedule, Apsell has overseen the production of many award-winning WGBH Science Unit specials including A Science Odyssey, Secrets of Lost Empires, Building Big; and the eight-part miniseries, Evolution. Currently, NOVA is celebrating its 30th season on PBS and has produced the three-part mini-series on string theory, The Elegant Universe, hosted by Columbia University physicist and award-winning author Brian Greene. NOVA also produced MARS Dead or Alive, a behind-the-scenes look at how the rovers Spirit and Opportunity were developed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The program culminated with footage from the control room as scientists such as Steve Squyres celebrated a successful landing. She has also directed NOVA's diversification into other media, most notably NOVA's award-winning Web site and the NOVA/PBS Online Adventures. As executive in charge of NOVA's large format film unit, Apsell has overseen the production of Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure — currently in national release, To the Limit, Stormchasers, Island of the Sharks, and Special Effects, the second IMAX film ever to be nominated for an Academy Award.

Apsell has received numerous individual awards for her outstanding record of achievement, among them the 1994 Bradford Washburn Award from the Museum of Science, Boston, whose previous winners include Walter Cronkite and Jacques Cousteau; the 1996 Carl Sagan Award given by the Council of Scientific Society Presidents; in 1999, the American Physics Institute's Andrew Gemant Award; and in 2002 three News and Documentary Emmy Awards including two awards for Best Historical Documentary, Shackleton's Voyage of Endurance and Galileo's Battle for the Heavens, and the top award, Best Documentary for Why the Towers Fell.

Paula Apsell has served on the boards of several organizations, including The Earthwatch Institute, Hebrew College (Brookline, Massachusetts) and the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. She is a trustee of the International Documentary Association.

back to top

Larry Klein

Executive Producer, Rx for Survival — A Global Health Challenge
Writer, Producer, Director
President of Production Group, Inc. and Unicorn Projects, Inc.

Larry Klein was a Teaching Assistant in American history at the University of Maryland and the Theater Supervisor of The American Film Institute at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts before beginning his career as a documentary filmmaker. Over the past two decades, Klein has produced scores of programs for commercial and cable television broadcast as well as several award-winning PBS specials including: Lewis Mumford: Toward Human Architecture and the critically acclaimed, Peabody Award-winning series Building Big with David Macaulay.

Klein has written and produced a variety of nationally-broadcast programs for WGBH TV in Boston including Bridges in the Building Big series and the NOVA presentations: Mind of a Serial Killer, What's Killing the Children and the Emmy Award-winning, Why the Towers Fell. He has produced individual programs for two WGBH mini-series: A Natural History of the Senses and A Science Odyssey, and he has also produced and directed a series of successful PBS family specials based on highly popular books by award-winning author-illustrator, David Macaulay. One of those specials, Roman City, also won a national, Prime-Time Emmy Award in 1994.

Besides ancient history, building and architecture, Klein has a personal interest in the subject of health and medicine. He created the Lifetime Television medical series, Medical Economics Video Magazine, and he has worked closely with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and The Carter Center in the production of programs on tropical diseases, clean water and sanitation. His two-hour program in WGBH's A Science Odyssey series looked at key medical breakthroughs in the 20th century. Who Plays God, a three-hour PBS special, followed the difficult personal decision-making process for patients and families facing end-of-life care. And What's Killing the Children is a dramatic case study of epidemiology at its finest.

back to top

Vulcan Productions

Vulcan Productions is the independent film production company founded by investor and philanthropist Paul G. Allen in 1997. Vulcan Productions devotes itself exclusively to producing independent films of unique vision and artistic quality. With feature film projects such as Hard Candy, Far From Heaven, The Safety of Objects, and documentaries such as The Blues, Evolution, and Black Sky: The Race for Space, and Black Sky: Winning The X Prize, the company commits its talent and resources to creating films of substance and enduring significance. Through our collaborative partnerships with established and emerging filmmakers, Vulcan Productions explores creative opportunities that result in engaging and inspirational storytelling. Visit Vulcan Productions online at http://www.vulcanproductions.com/.

back to top

Paul G. Allen

Chairman, Founder
Executive in Charge
Vulcan Productions

Investor and philanthropist Paul G. Allen creates and advances world-class projects and high-impact initiatives that change and improve the way people live, learn, work and experience the world through arts, education, entertainment, sports, business and technology. He co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1976, remained the company's chief technologist until he left Microsoft in 1983, and is the founder and chairman of Vulcan Inc., and chairman of Charter Communications (a broadband communications company). In addition, Allen's multibillion dollar investment portfolio includes large stakes in DreamWorks SKG, Oxygen Media and more than 40 other technology, media and content companies. Allen also owns the Seattle Seahawks NFL and Portland Trail Blazers NBA franchises.

Named one of the top 10 philanthropists in America, Allen gives back to the community through the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, whose mission is to transform lives and strengthen communities by fostering innovation, creating knowledge and promoting social progress. Allen is also the sponsor of SpaceShipOne, the first civilian effort to successfully put man in suborbital space; founder of Experience Music Project, Seattle's critically acclaimed interactive music museum; the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame; the $100 million Allen Institute for Brain Science and its cutting-edge Allen Brain Atlas initiative, and Vulcan Productions, the independent film production company behind Todd Haynes' Far From Heaven, the Evolution series on PBS, and the award-winning film series, The Blues, executive produced by Martin Scorsese in conjunction with Allen and Jody Patton.

back to top

Jody Patton

Executive in Charge
Vulcan Productions

Jody Patton, president of Vulcan Productions, is responsible for managing all elements of Vulcan Productions film and development projects. Patton's creative vision defines the composition of the slate of projects undertaken by Vulcan Productions, and she has served as producer or executive producer on various projects including features such as Hard Candy, Far From Heaven and Titus, and documentaries such as Black Sky: The Race For Space, The Blues, and Cracking The Code Of Life, and Evolution. Patton is also president and CEO of Vulcan Inc., the project and investment management company founded by investor and philanthropist Paul G. Allen. Patton is co-founder of Experience Music Project, Seattle's one-of-a-kind interactive music museum, and the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame. In addition, Patton is the executive director of the Paul G. Allen Family Foundations and is on the board of Charter Communications. As an active member of the education community, Patton serves on the board of directors of the University of Washington Foundation.

back to top

Richard E. Hutton

Vice President of Media Development and Executive Producer
Vulcan Productions

Richard Hutton oversees the feature film and documentary teams at Vulcan Productions and manages a variety of content partnerships, business and distribution deals. Feature films produced under Hutton's direction include Hard Candy (to be released Spring 2006) and Bickford Shmeckler's Cool Ideas (in post production); and the award-winning Far From Heaven (2002). Hutton's achievements at Vulcan Productions also include oversight of the documentaries Strange Days on Planet Earth and Black Sky: The Race For Space; Black Sky: Winning the X-Prize; the Emmy- and Grammy- nominated The Blues: Martin Scorsese Presents; and the Lightning in a Bottle concert film (all 2004). Hutton was formerly the executive producer of the critically acclaimed PBS series Evolution, co-produced by the WGBH/NOVA Science Unit and Vulcan Productions.

Before Evolution, Hutton was senior vice president of creative development at Walt Disney Imagineering, and prior to that was vice president and general manager of the Disney Institute, where he directed the transition of the organization from an idea into an operating business. Before Disney, Hutton was senior vice president, television programming and production, for WETA Television in Washington, D.C., and earlier, director of public affairs programming for WNET Television in New York. His projects have included the award-winning The Brain (1984) and The Mind (1988), as well as various books, medical texts and articles for national publications, including The New York Times Magazine, Omni and Cosmopolitan.

back to top