Posts Tagged ‘Ken Burns’

THE PROBLEM WITH “WAR” RAGES ON

Sunday, July 15th, 2007

Will the FCC make an issue of ‘War’ language?

Two months before the premiere of Ken Burns’ series,

“The War,” PBS CEO Paula Kerger still isn’t sure
By Ellen Gray

Philadelphia Daily News (July 12, 2007)

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif – Though Kerger yesterday told the Television Critics Association that PBS would offer its affiliates unexpurgated and edited versions of the World War II series, she said she doesn’t know yet how many stations would carry the edited version.

“I thought . . . that there would be more clarity” from the Federal Communications Commission by now about the use of certain language on broadcast TV (specifically, a word that’s already gotten a pass during airings of “Saving Private Ryan” from an FCC whose makeup – and agenda – has changed since then).

“We got a lot of coverage of this documentary because it has four words in it – four out of 14 1/2 hours,” she said, noting that two of those are used to explain the origins of “snafu” and “FUBAR.”

Though the issue drew headlines at the TCA’s winter meetings six months ago and still matters to many PBS affiliates, some of which could be crippled by an adverse FCC ruling and the accompanying fines, “that seems like the quaint old days,” the PBS executive acknowledged.

That’s because of pressure brought in the interim by Hispanic groups who were upset that Burns had not singled out the experience of Latino soldiers in his examination of World War II from the perspective of four American cities and towns: Sacramento, Calif; Waterbury, Conn; Mobile, Ala.; and Luverne, Minn.

In questioning Kerger, and later Burns, critics and reporters here, usually quick to lambaste networks on diversity issues, displayed little sympathy for the groups raising this particular one.

Admittedly, none of us – and none of Burns’ critics – has yet seen the final version of “The War,” which will incorporate some interviews and material he agreed to add at what in documentary terms could be considered the 11th hour.

Kerger was a bit vague on just what’s entailed, Burns a little less so.

“We’ve produced some new material and included it at the end of three of the episodes that doesn’t alter” what was largely completed more than a year ago, he said.

The added material, which will also include a Native American narrative, will run at the ends of episodes 1, 5 and 6, before the credits, Burns said.

It will add 28 to 29 minutes to the total length.

“It was, of course, painful to us on one level” that his work was being misinterpreted, “but we didn’t have the luxury” of arguing for too long, Burns said, reminding reporters that World War II veterans are dying at the rate of about 1,000 a day.

Noting that Hispanics in America are “a group of people who for 500 years have had their story untold,” he said, “We’ve done more than we were asked and were expected to . . . honoring our own interest in doing this right.”

Asked if he expected that to be enough to satisfy his critics, he replied, “There are a lot of different people with a lot of different agendas and a lot of concerns.”

Rather than try to address all of them, he said, the filmmakers “tried to hear . . . the larger question, and that’s what we tried to respond to.”

LATINOS EXCLUDED FROM BURNS’ DOCUMENTARY “WAR”

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007

LATINO REPRESENTATIVES MEET

WITH PBS PRESIDENT

ON LATINO EXCLUSION FROM

KEN BURNS’ WWII DOCUMENTARY

The President of the Public Broadcasting System (PBS), Paula A. Kerger, met on Tuesday, March 6, 2007 with representatives from the Latino community at their headquarters in Crystal City, Virginia to discuss their concerns and recommendations about the exclusion of Latinos from producer Ken Burns’ forthcoming documentary, “The War”, on World War II.

Representing the Latino community at the meeting were Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez of the University of Texas at Austin; Gus Chavez of San Diego; Marta Garcia, co-chair and founder of the New York Chapter of the National Hispanic Media Coalition; Angelo Falcón of the National Institute for Latino Policy; and Ivan Roman of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. PBS was also represented by new PBS Board member Lionel Sosa, Senior Vice President/Chief TV Programming Executive John F. Wilson, Chief Content Officer John L. Boland, and Director of Corporate Communications and Media Relations Jan McNamara.

The PBS position on this issue at this point is:

· The Ken Burns 7-part documentary, “The War”, 6 years in the making, is completed and cannot be changed. The idea of PBS telling him to make changes to include Latinos would violate Burns’ artistic independence.

· PBS is putting resources to promote local programming by its 348 member stations around this documentary, the best of which they plan to promote at the national level. They are willing to work with the Latino community to make sure that the Latino involvement in WWII is addressed in this way.

· PBS may be willing to facilitate a meeting between Ken Burns and representatives of the Latino community to discuss this issue, as well as the Latino role in this future productions.

The Latino community representatives made the following points:

· The exclusion of Latinos from Ken Burns documentary is an insult to our community and nothing short of delaying the release of this film until it is edited to include Latinos is acceptable.

· We are willing to meet directly with Ken Burns as an independent producer to discuss our concerns.

· Why, if this documentary took six years to complete, did no one at PBS flag this problem of Latino exclusion earlier? We raise the need for PBS to consider instituting measures that prevent this type of exclusion from occurring in the future.

· There is a clear pattern of the neglect of Latinos in all of Ken Burns projects, so why hasn’t PBS been sensitive to this problem earlier?

· We have given Ms. Kerger one week, until Tuesday, March 13, 2007, to formally respond to us in writing.

For further information on this issue, please contact:

Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

School of Journalism

The University of Texas at Austin

1 University Station A1000

Austin, TX 78712

512-471-0405

Fax: 512-471-7979

mrivas@mail.utexas.edu

http://utopia.utexas.edu/explore/latino

Gus Chavez

Latino Community Development and Education Advocate

4674 Esther Street

San Diego, CA 92115

619-807-8938 (Cell)

619-286-9858 (Home)

Chavez1@mail.sdsu.edu

Marta Garcia

Co-Chair and Founder

New York Chapter

National Hispanic Media Coalition

101 Avenue of the Americas

New York, NY 10013

(212) 965-9758

mediacoalition@optonline.net

www.nhmc.org

Angelo Falcón

President and Founder

National Institute for Latino Policy

101 Avenue of the Americas

New York, NY 10013

212-334-5722

afalcon@latinopolicy.org

www.latinopolicy.org