TCA: PBS unveils projects from Barak Goodman, Ken Burns

American pubcaster PBS detailed a slate of upcoming programming at its summer Television Critics Association presentation on Monday (July 30), including new films from Barak Goodman, Ken Burns and Julia Marchesi. Goodman will revisit the ...
July 30, 2018

American pubcaster PBS detailed a slate of upcoming programming at its summer Television Critics Association presentation on Monday (July 30), including new films from Barak Goodman, Ken Burns and Julia Marchesi.

Goodman will revisit the 1969 musical festival Woodstock (pictured) on the occasion of its 50th anniversary in an upcoming film for PBS’s ‘American Experience’ strand.

In August 1969, half a million people came together from around the U.S. for a concert event on a dairy farm in upstate New York. Woodstock examines the turbulent decade that led to those three days through the voices of those who were present for the event that would become part of the counterculture revolution.

Goodman (Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies) serves as director and writer for the documentary, along with Don Klezy. Slated to air in 2019, Woodstock is produced by Goodman and Jamila Ephron, with Mark Samels as executive producer.

“Unlike Michael Wadleigh’s classic 1970 documentary, our film turns the cameras around, into the audience,” said Samels, also executive producer for ‘American Experience’, in a statement. “By focusing on individuals — from concert goers to security guards to performers to local residents — Woodstock expands our understanding of the event as not only an unparalleled musical milestone, but a once-in-a-century cultural phenomena that served as a coda to the Sixties and a harbinger of the decades to come.”

Goodman’s other work for ‘American Experience’ includes Clinton, a biography of former president Bill Clinton; My Lai, the story of the 1968 My Lai massacre; and Scottsboro, about the arrest and trials of eight African American teenagers for rape in Depression-era Alabama.

Goodman’s most recent film, Oklahoma City, also for ‘American Experience’, took home the Peabody Award earlier this year.

‘American Experience’ is produced for PBS by WGBH Boston.

In other news, acclaimed director Ken Burns has teamed with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Siddhartha Mukherjee, M.D., for a three-part documentary inspired by the doctor’s best-selling 2016 book, The Gene: An Intimate History.

siddhartha mukherjee, ken burnsNow in active production, Ken Burns Presents The Gene: An Intimate History will utilize stories of science and social history to weave together the breakthroughs in understanding the impact genes play on heredity, disease and behavior.

The three-part film will explore some of the most significant genetics discoveries in scientific history, including the achievements of the earliest gene hunters, the race to read the entire human genome, and the unparalleled ethical challenges of gene editing.

Award-winning director Barak Goodman will produce The Gene: An Intimate History, and, in addition to Burns and Goodman, the film will largely have the same production team behind the Emmy-nominated 2015 PBS film Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies, which was an adaption of Mukherjee’s 2010 book.

Burns serves as executive producer and senior creative consultant. Mukherjee, Dalton Delan, Tom Chiodo and Anne Harrington are also exec producers on the documentary.

Ken Burns Presents The Gene: An Intimate History– a production of Florentine Films and WETA Washington, D.C., in association with Ark Media – will premiere over three nights in Spring 2020 on PBS.

Also announced at PBS’s TCA in Beverly Hills was Julia Marchesi’s four-hour documentary about the transformative years following the American Civil War when the nation was struggling to rebuild itself in the face of destruction, devastating loss and social change.

Hosted and executive produced by Henry Louis Gates Jr., Reconstruction: America After The Civil War (w/t) will premiere next spring and takes a broad view of the Reconstruction era and its impact. Directed and senior produced by Marchesi, the docuseries starts with the moment of war’s end and emancipation in 1865 and carries through to 1915, when Jim Crow segregation was in full effect.

The first half of the project will center on the decade following the Civil War rebellion, following black progress and highlighting the accomplishments of the many political leaders who emerged in a new era of freedom.

The series’ second half will look at the unraveling of Reconstruction and the rise of Jim Crow segregation in the last years of the 19th century. The film will look at the various ways in which black people continued to build institutions and strengthen communities in the face of increasing racial violence and repression.

America After The Civil War will also look at the growth of African American art, music, literature and culture as tools of resistance in the struggle against racism and the surge of political activism that launched various iconic civil rights organizations.

Reconstruction: America After The Civil War is a production of McGee Media, Inkwell Films and WETA Washington, DC. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Dyllan McGee are executive producers. Dalton Delan and Anne Harrington are executive producers for WETA. Rob RapleyStacey Holman and Cyndee Readdean are producers/directors.

With files from Selina Chignall and Daniele Alcinii

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