North America’s fascination with Europe has carried over into the 21st century, a fact not lost upon Small World Productions. Keen to capitalize on the abundance of arm-chair adventurers, the Seattle-based prodco has teamed with KCTS (Seattle’s public television station) to produce a 13 x 30-minute series called Smart Travels – Europe with Rudy Maxa.
The voyage begins in Denmark. Maxa, a popular Washington, D.C.-based travel writer and commentator, rides on horseback through the Danish countryside, strolls through writer Karen Blixen’s gardens and dances till dawn at Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, offering tips on everything from canal rides to museum passes along the way.
In a later episode, Maxa moves on to Naples and the Amalfi Coast. Tossing a touch of history and adventure into the mix, he explores the ancient city of Pompeii and the devastation left by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, then proceeds to trek across a still-active volcano. Maxa ends this visit with a tour of Paesum in the south, home to the best Greek ruins outside of Greece.
Other destinations on Maxa’s agenda include Belgium, the Netherlands, the Italian Riviera, Paris and London.
The producers purposefully selected Maxa to help bring old Europe alive. They also opted to shoot and edit the series in high definition, specifically HDTV 1080i, to project sharper, crisper images. Both HD and NTSC letterbox versions will be made available.
American Airlines and the University of Washington are underwriting the US$900,000 series, and American Public Television is distributing domestically. Set to wrap by March, Smart Travels – Europe will be shopped around at MIPDOC in April.
Small World Productions has produced several travel series for U.S. public television, including Travels in Mexico and the Caribbean with Shari Belafonte, America’s Historic Trails with Tom Bodett and Travels in Europe with Rick Steves.