PBS to commemorate Kennedy assassination

PBS will air a series of specials to mark the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination this fall, as well as the series How We Got To Now and the 2013 PBS Fall Arts Festival.
August 7, 2013

PBS will air a series of specials to mark the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination from November 11-13, as well as the series How We Got To Now and the 2013 PBS Fall Arts Festival.

In addition to the previously announced ‘Nova’ program Cold Case JFK, the U.S. pubcaster will air the four-hour, two-part special JFK (working title) as part of its ‘American Experience’ strand.¬† The documentary will re-assess the life and accomplishments of John F. Kennedy, through interviews with Kennedy family members and historians including Robert Dallek, Robert Caro and Evan Thomas.

“President Kennedy’s assassination was a defining historical moment of the 20th Century, and 50 years later, his life and death remain a source of great interest and intrigue,” said Beth Hoppe, the network’s chief programming executive and general manager of general audience programming, in a statement.

“Tapping into the strengths of our documentary, science, news and public affairs programs, we have a timely occasion this November to re-examine various aspects of President Kennedy’s life as well as a wide-ranging account of the hours and days following his death.”

A third primetime special is ‘Secrets of the Dead‘ JFK: One PM Central Standard Time, a doc about the coverage of the assassination both in Dallas and in the CBS newsroom in New York. The George Clooney-narrated program will include rarely seen archival footage of Kennedy and anchorman Walter Cronkite, interviews with reporters Dan Rather, Bob Schieffer, Marvin Kalb and Marianne Means and an interview with former president Bill Clinton.

PBS Newshour will also air a special report about former anchors Robin MacNeil and Jim Lehrer and their original reporting on Kennedy’s assassination in 1963.

Elsewhere, the network added the series How We Got To Now, starring web entrepreneur Steven Johnson, to its fall slate. The six-part, Nutopia-produced series explores the stories behind and lasting social impact of inventions and big ideas, such as frozen foods, air-conditioning, radioactivity and the iPhone.

In October, PBS will begin seven weekly programs, covering Broadway classics; music from around the U.S.; and singer Barbra Streisand; as part of its 2013 PBS Arts Fall Festival. The series will be hosted by actor Anna Deavere Smith (Nurse Jackie) and kick off on October 18.

The ‘Great Performances’ strand will host 40th Anniversary Celebration, an all-star special recorded at the Lincoln Center featuring stories from the strand’s alumni including Julia Andrews, Don Henley, David Hyde Pierce and Michael Bubl√©.

Programming also includes A Raisin In The Sun Revisited: The Raisin Cycle at Center Stage, a 60-minute performance documentary about the history and legacy of the landmark play that follows a Baltimore theater company as it mounts the plays’ sequels, Clybourne Park and Beneatha’s Place, as “The Raisin Cycle“; Nashville 2.0, a music documentary that looks at the music icons and institutions of the American music scene; and the concert documentary Barbra Streisand: Back to Brooklyn.

Finally, PBS also announced that actor Denzel Washington will narrate The March, a documentary about the civil rights movement that will air on August 27, a day after the 50th anniversary of the march that featured Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.