An eight-part series with the working title “The Great American Read” exploring the joy of books and including a campaign to choose America’s best-loved book, will begin airing on Public Broadcasting Service stations in May, PBS announced Sunday.
PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger called “The Great American Read” the reverse of Oprah’s Book Club.
“She picked the book and got everyone to read it,” Kerger said during PBS’ portion of the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour, which is being held in Beverly Hills.
“This is the reverse. Everyone gets to talk about what they think has been significant and then use that as a way of talking about how does literature really depict who we are as a country.”
“The Great American Read” will begin in the spring with a multi- platform digital and social media campaign leading up to the announcement of the 100 books contending to be America’s best-loved book as selected by the American public and an advisory panel of literary professionals.
A two-hour documentary special will air in May with appearances by celebrities and the general public discussing their personal connections to their favorite books. Voting will continue throughout summer 2018, with six episodes of the series exploring the nominated books through such themes including “Being American,” “Heroes,” “Growing Up” and “What We Do for Love.”
“The Great American Read” will conclude in September 2018 with the announcement of the nation’s best-loved book.
” `The Great American Read’ will speak to all Americans,” said Jane Root, CEO of Nutopia, the London-based production company that is producing the series. “These books tell our story, explore our passions and celebrate the depth and range of our culture.”
Kerger also announced that “Civilizations,” a nine-part PBS-BBC co- production on art from the dawn of human history to the present day on a global scale, will premiere in the spring. It is inspired by by the 1969 series on Western art, “Civilization.”
“Civilizations” is filmed on six continents, including use of drones. It will include visits to such cultural landmarks as the great mosques of Istanbul, the ancient cities of Mesoamerica, the Buddhist caves of Ajanta in India, and the funeral site of China’s first emperor, said Root, whose company is also producing “Civilizations.”
“This is not just a set of films about the history of art. It is a series about what it means to be human, told through some of humanity’s greatest achievements,” Root said.
Producers of the PBS biography series “American Masters” announced it will air a documentary on the late Baseball Hall of Famer Ted Williams next summer in connection with the 100th anniversary of his birth.
This will be the first time the series, whose traditional focus has been on enduring writers, musicians, visual and performing artists, dramatists and filmmakers, will profile a baseball player.
“A major American cultural figure whose story has never been properly told, Ted Williams is a fitting first,” said Michael Kantor, `American Masters’ executive producer. “This film will reveal the man behind the legendary .406 batting average — complex, misunderstood and profoundly human.”
The documentary’s producers include recently retired Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz, whose production company produced the ESPN Films digital documentary, “David Ortiz: The Last Walk Off.”
“Luna Around The World,” an animated series seeking to encourage children 4 to 7 years old to explore and appreciate cultures from all over the world, and build global citizenship and social skills, will premiere in fall 2018 on PBS Kids, Linda Simensky, PBS’ vice president of children’s programming, announced.
“Luna Around The World,” follows the adventures of three friends — Leo, a wombat from Australia, Carmen, a butterfly from Mexico, and Andy, a frog from the U.S. — as they travel the world with their parents’ traveling performance troupe, Circo Fabuloso.
At each of Circo Fabuloso’s stops, Luna the moon guides the trio as they experience the local language, music and daily life, Simensky said
“`Luna Around The World,” is designed to ignite kids’ curiosity about the world and inspire them to learn about the many different cultures that call it home, said series creator Joe Murray, who also created the Nickelodeon animated series “Rocko’s Modern Life” and the Cartoon Network animated series “Camp Lazio.”
“Through this show, my goal is to give all children the opportunity to explore cultures other than their own, and to learn about the similarities that unite all of us through challenges that kids can relate to, with the universal language of laughter woven into each story.”
Ruff Ruffman, the anthropomorphic dog who hosted the 2006-10 PBS animated children’s game show “Fetch! with Ruff Ruffman” will return as the host of a new short-form animated digital series “The Ruff Ruffman Show,” which will premiere Sept. 28 on PBS KIDS digital platforms.
The series will introduce children 4 to 8 years old “to a variety of science concepts that allow them to learn from challenges and failure, said Lesli Rotenberg, PBS’ senior vice president and general manager, children’s media and education.
—City News Service
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