celebrating 20 years of FRONTLINE
20 years / 420 programs: 1996
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20 years / 420 programs
david fanning

» Secret Daughter

11.26.1996 (150 min)

FRONTLINE producer June Cross tells the intricate story of her own family through the prism of the changing face of race relations in America. Cross, born to a white mother and an African-American father in the early 1950s, was given away by her mother to live with a black family in Atlantic City when she was four.She only saw her mother and stepfather, TV star Larry Storch, on visits to Hollywood during school vacations. But Cross's mother was afraid her husband's career would be destroyed if the truth about Cross was discovered, so she kept her a secret. FRONTLINE takes viewers on an epic journey across the racial divide, into the hidden world of Hollywood and deep into the complicated relationship between a daughter and the mother who gave her away.

Producer: June Cross

» Loose Nukes

11.19.1996 (60 min)

FRONTLINE investigates the new nuclear nightmare of the post-Cold War era. While the fear of nuclear annihilation has faded, the security of 1,400 tons of weapons-grade plutonium and highly enriched uranium----enough nuclear material to make roughly 100,000 weapons----is vulnerable to theft in the former Soviet Union. Top American officials call its potential diversion to rogue states or terrorist groups a major threat to U.S. national security. FRONTLINE examines the most serious case of nuclear smuggling in Russia to date and explores the perilous state of nuclear security in a country already rife with chaos and corruption.

Producer: Sherry Jones

» Why America Hates the Press

10.22.1996 (60 min)

FRONTLINE offers a tough, insider's examination of the culture and tactics of the national press corps. With public respect for the press at an all-time low-----on par with public regard for politicians----journalists have begun to break ranks to probe what has gone wrong. FRONTLINE follows the nation's top political journalists along the 1996 presidential campaign trail and behind the scenes of the weekly talk shows where reporters are transformed into celebrity pundits. Through the eyes of a few key journalists, this report explores the dynamics of the news business and its troubling impact on American politics.

Producer: Stephen Talbot

» The Navy Blues

10.15.1996 (60 min)

FRONTLINE examines the Navy after Tailhook, an investigation of seismic shock caused by the sex scandal involving naval aviators five years ago and its continuing impact on the Navy. The film explores the controversy over the post-Tailhook mandate to introduce women into combat roles and positions of greater authority. The report also looks at how these pressures weighed on Admiral Mike Boorda, the Navy's chief of naval operations, who committed suicide the following spring.

Producers: Michael kirk, Kenneth Levis

» The Choice '96

10.08.1996 (120 min)

FRONTLINE opens its fifteenth season on PBS with a dual biography of the 1996 presidential candidates, Bill Clinton and Bob Dole. Interweaving their public careers and private lives, the two-hour report offers an illuminating portrait of each candidate's record and, most importantly, his character, to help voters understand what kind of president each might be.

Producer: Helen Whitney

» The Gate of Heavenly Peace

06.04.1996 (150 min)

In the spring of 1989, students and workers occupied Beijing's Tiananmen Square and the world watched as China struggled with this wrenching upheaval in the name of democracy. 'The Gate of Heavenly Peace' documents the history of China's Protest Movement, providing context to the history and political attitudes which shaped the development of the movement, and reveals how moderates among student protesters and within the government were silenced by extremist factions. In its first television broadcast, the film reflects five years of meticulous research and interviews to construct the most complete and accurate account to date of the complex political process that eventually led to the Beijing Massacre on June 4.

Producers: Richard Gordon, Carma Hinton

» Does America Still Work?

05.21.1996 (60 min)

At the height of the Rust Belt primaries, FRONTLINE goes to Wisconsin where presidential candidates tap the deep-seated anxiety and insecurity that fuels tensions between American businesses and their employees. Correspondent Jeff Madrick looks behind the heated political rhetoric to see how companies, workers, and civic leaders are wrestling with global competition and the end of an era of industrial affluence. In a volatile economic climate, what do corporations owe their employees and their communities?

Producers: Tom Casciato, Kathleen Hughes

» The Kevorkian Verdict

05.14.1996 (60 min)

As Dr. Jack Kevorkian faces his third criminal trial for assisting in the suicide of his desperate patients, FRONTLINE examines the improbable saga of 'Dr. Death' and assesses how quickly the Michigan pathologist seized center stage in the intricate and emotional debate over physician-assisted suicide and what role he played in changing how America thinks about the end of life.

Producer: Michael Kirk

» The Pilgrimage of Jesse Jackson

04.30.1996 (90 min)

Through five decades, Jesse Jackson has been trying to realize the promise of his own potential he first embraced as a boy in segregated Greenville, South Carolina. His life has been a headlong rush toward that end, fueled by a mix of personal aggrievement, ambition, his own vision of what America should be, and his quixotic but enduring belief that he might be able to change the country and the world. Drawn from journalist Marshall Frady's biography, Pilgrimage, the program is not only a rare in-depth look at the man, but also offers a portrait of race and politics in post-war America.

Producer: Tom Lennon

» Shtetl

04.17.1996 (180 min)

To commemorate National Holocaust Remembrance Week, FRONTLINE travels back in time to a family shtetl, a small village in Bransk, Poland, with producer Marian Marzynski. As a child, Marzynski escaped the Warsaw ghetto and was raised by Christians. The remarkable three-hour film tells the homecoming story of two elderly Polish-American Jews who return to their families' shtetl ,Bransk, where 2,500 Jews lived before most were sent to Treblinka's gas chambers. These two Americans are aided in their journey by a Polish Gentile who has restored Bransk's Jewish cemetery and researched the lives of the Jews who once lived there. The film captures these pilgrims as they face old neighbors, some who were betrayers, others who were saviors to the Jews of Bransk.

Producer: Marian Marzynski

» Angel on Death Row

04.09.1996 (60 min)

FRONTLINE takes on the death penalty debate with a personal profile of the woman behind the highly acclaimed motion picture Dead Man Walking, Sister Helen Prejean. With her 1993 book adapted for Hollywood starring Susan Sarandon, the nun from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, became the nation's leading voice against the death penalty. FRONTLINE follows Prejean's crusade against the death penalty while serving as spiritual advisor to five death row inmates. The program centers on the grisly 1980 Louisiana murder of Faith Hathaway, a crime for which Robert Lee Willie was executed four years later. The film features the first, exclusive interview with Debbie Morris, a young woman who was kidnapped and brutally raped by Willie just three days before he raped and killed Hathaway. But Prejean's opposition to the death penalty has prompted criticism from death penalty advocates, including Hathaway's mother and step-father who believe the nun's compassion for condemned criminals, rather than their victims, is misguided.

Producer: Ben Loeterman

» Smoke in the Eye

04.02.1996 (60 min)

FRONTLINE investigates the war between network news and the tobacco industry in the wake of the $10 billion libel suit against ABC and the controversial decision by CBS not to allow 60 MINUTES to air an explosive interview with a tobacco company whistle-blower. As media companies increasingly come under the control of large corporations, will their newsrooms continue to aggressively report on corporate America?

Producers: Neil Docherty, Jim Gilmore

» Breast Implants on Trial

02.27.1996 (90 min)

More than 400,000 women are part of a proposed global settlement against U.S. breast-implant manufacturers in the largest lawsuit in history. Many claim they have contracted a wide range of silicone-related diseases, but recent medical studies conducted by the nation's premier researchers have failed to find any evidence that silicone breast implants are dangerous. As Congress actively examines the powers of the FDA and the possibilities of tort reform, FRONTLINE looks at the enormous stakes involved in the clash between biomedical science and the nation's most powerful litigators.

Producers: Jon Palfreman, Michelle Nicholasen

» Murder on 'Abortion Row'

02.06.1996 (120 min)

Airing as his trial begins, FRONTLINE follows the intersecting lives of twenty-two-year-old antiabortionist, John Salvi III, charged with murder in the armed attacks on two Massachusetts health clinics, and his victims, Shannon Lowney and Leanne Nichols. Through in-depth, personal interviews with family members and friends, clinic employees, police, Pro-Life and Pro-Choice protesters, witnesses, and religious leader Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston, the film draws a portrait of what led to Salvi's brutal acts of violence. From the producers of 'Romeo and Juliet in Sarajevo,' this two-hour program crosses the emotionally charged terrain of the abortion battle.

Producers: John Zaritsky, Virginia Storring

» So You Want to Buy a President?

01.30.1996 (90 min)

FRONTLINE investigates the expected $500 million flowing into the 1996 presidential campaign. Correspondent Robert Krulwich scrutinizes the generosity of prominent campaign donors whose interests range from bananas to computer chips and reveals what they get for their money.

Producer: Michael Kirk

» The Long March of Newt Gingrich

01.16.1996 (60 min)

One year into the Republican revolution, FRONTLINE presents an investigative biography of House Speaker Newt Gingrich. FRONTLINE correspondent Peter J. Boyer, the New Yorker writer, examines the childhood roots of Gingrich's vaulting ambition, the evolution of his philosophy and political methods, his assault on the leadership of both parties in Congress, and how he developed and implemented his battle plans for a GOP takeover of Congress.

Producer: Steve Talbot

» The Gulf War

01.09.1996 (120 min)

Marking the fifth anniversary of the war with Iraq, FRONTLINE investigates what really happened during the invasion of Kuwait, the months of diplomatic maneuvering, the air war and ground assault, and the post-war rebellion inside Iraq. The two-hour episodes are built around dozens of interviews with key political and military leaders in the U.S., its allies, and Iraq, as well as soldiers on both sides of the front line. Interviews include General Norman Schwarzkopf, General Colin Powell, former Secretary of State James Baker, former Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney, Britain's Margaret Thatcher, Mikhail Gorbachev, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Jordan's King Hussein, and Israeli Premier Yitzahk Shamir.

Producers: Eamonn Matthews, Ben Loeterman


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