PBS NewsHour’s Brief But Spectacular Series Celebrates 100th Episode
Weekly segment profiling the brightest thinkers, makers, artists, and inventors marks its 100th show anniversary with a special guest
Washington, DC (October 16, 2017) — PBS NewsHour’s popular interview series Brief But Spectacular (series trailer) recently celebrated its 100th episode on October 12, 2017 after more than two years since it’s debut in 2015. Brief has introduced NewsHour viewers to original profiles each week, from household names like Alec Baldwin and Carl Reiner to artists and policymakers like Marina Abramovic and Bryan Stevenson. With more than 150 million views to date, the series has struck a nerve with viewers eager to learn about the passions that drive some of the world’s most provocative voices.
Series creator Steve Goldbloom and his longtime producing partner Zach Land-Miller have conducted every interview off-screen in longform. For the 100th episode, Goldbloom came out from behind the camera to interview his 92-year-old grandfather – who inadvertently named the series – about his loss of short-term memory and what it feels like to forget.
Goldbloom has a longstanding relationship with NewsHour and PBS. In 2014, he created and hosted the satirical series Everything But the News and has served as a special correspondent for NewsHour. But his approach to Brief has earned a much wider and more consistent audience, something Goldbloom credits to its focus on authenticity and empathy.
“Brief’s intention has always been to elicit empathy from the audience by inviting them to walk in someone else’s shoes,” said Goldbloom. “We are creating the conditions to truly connect with our guests and having them look to camera, rather than at us, help establish an intimacy with the viewer.”
In addition to the show’s individual profiles, Brief has also tackled larger questions through its “what does it feel like to…” segments. Using multiple points of view, the show has explored the experiences of living with a diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s, battling addiction or serving a life sentence after being incarcerated as a juvenile. The latter piece included 12 inmates from San Quentin.
Goldbloom offered some takeaways on the series:
“In the beginning we felt pressure to secure big names like Alec Baldwin and Marina Abramovic. But it has been heartwarming to witness the public’s response and appetite for people they’re not used to hearing from, like poet Mahogany Browne and 91-year-old Flossie Lewis, who is now the series’ most viewed episode.”
NewsHour’s Executive Producer and WETA SVP Sara Just green-lit Brief in 2015, after receiving a pitch from Goldbloom by phone.
“Brief But Spectacular began as a NewsHour series produced first for Facebook and aired later on broadcast. We started with a few episodes in mind and it quickly evolved into much more than that, offering a thought-provoking, broadly revealing look at the lives and views of fascinating people. The creative efforts by Steve, Zach and the team here at NewsHour have resonated not only with our viewers but also with a wide audience online, prompting conversation and engagement on some of the most compelling issues of our time. Brief But Spectacular was made for social media and vice versa. We look forward to seeing where this series goes next.”
PBS NewsHour and Goldbloom’s production company, Second Peninsula, are working on an expansion of Brief as a 30 minute documentary-style series. They have produced a pilot and are currently seeking development funds for the program.