PBS plans arts festival, “Prohibition” for autumn

U.S. public broadcaster PBS has unveiled its fall slate, featuring an autumnal arts festival and the premiere of Prohibition (pictured), Ken Burns' anticipated series exploring America's attempt to ban alcohol in the 1920s.
May 10, 2011

U.S. public broadcaster PBS has unveiled its fall slate, featuring an autumnal arts festival and the premiere of Prohibition (pictured), Ken Burns’ anticipated series exploring America’s attempt to ban alcohol in the 1920s.

The centerpiece of the fall will be the first PBS Arts Fall Festival, offering full-length performances, artist and performer profiles, behind-the-scenes documentaries and mini-films about the art scenes in Miami, San Francisco, Cleveland, Chicago, the Blue Ridge Mountains and other areas of the U.S.

The festival kicks off October 14 at 9 p.m. EST, and airs on Fridays through December with new broadcasts of classic and contemporary performances, including Women Who Rock, inspired by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s exhibit of the same name; and Give Me the Banjo, narrated by Steve Martin, a banjoist himself.

The season will be complemented by online exhibits that extend the broadcast specials, and educational tools that will connect to the programs, in a bid to fill gaps in arts education. In addition, PBS member stations will have the opportunity to enhance their own local broadcasts with additional arts content from their community.

“For four decades, PBS has been a passionate proponent and participant in the arts, giving millions of Americans their first glimpses at dance, theater, opera and music,” said PBS president and CEO Paula A. Kerger. “The PBS Arts Fall Festival will bring unparalleled access to the arts from multiple media platforms and in the classroom. More audiences have been tuning into PBS on television, visiting online and streaming PBS content on mobile devices over the last two seasons.”

Beyond the arts festival, PBS will kick off its fall season on October 2 with Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s Prohibition, which promises to go “beyond the oft-told tales of gangsters, rumrunners, flappers and speakeasies to experience the rise, rule and fall of the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

The series features music by Wynton Marsalis and the voice talents of Tom Hanks, Jeremy Irons, Paul Giamatti, Oliver Platt, John Lithgow, Samuel L. Jackson, Patricia Clarkson, Adam Arkin, Sam Waterston, Josh Lucas and others, with narration by Peter Coyote.

Elsewhere, physicist and author Brian Greene returns to the network’s ‘Nova’ strand with The Fabric of the Cosmos, which airs Wednesdays from November 2-23 in a 9 p.m. EST slot. The four-part miniseries looks at the frontiers of physics “to see how scientists are piecing together the most complete picture yet of space, time and the universe.

Building on the move of ‘Nova’ to Wednesday nights, which took place in PBS will pair ‘Nature’ and ‘Nova’ on the same night in a bid to expand on audience affinities.

Public affairs series Need To Know will re-launch on September 16, 2011, at 8:30 p.m, while PBS Newshour, Charlie Rose, Independent Lens, Nightly Business Report, Tavis Smiley and Washington Week with Gwen Ifill & National Journal will all return.

John F. Wilson, PBS senior VP and chief TV programming exec, said: “Along with Ken Burns’s and Lynn Novick’s Prohibition, the PBS Arts Fall Festival and ‘Nova’ The Fabric of the Cosmos with Brian Greene, PBS and its producing partners will be announcing even more great content in the days ahead, including additional miniseries, ongoing series premieres and special programming to commemorate the anniversary of 9-11.”

Information on additional specials and ongoing episode premieres will be announced throughout May and June and at the PBS/TCA Press Tour, July 30-31 in Los Angeles.


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