September 2, 2016
By Randall Wilson On the occasion of the National Parks centennial comes an irreverent question: Are the parks still relevant? Famously christened as America's "best idea" by writer Wallace Stegner and reaffirmed in Ken Burns' 2009 PBS documentary, it seems brazen, if not blasphemous, to pose the question. Over the last century, the national park system has grown from one comprising Yellowstone and a handful of parks on the West Coast to include 59 parks and 352 other units covering more than 84 million acres.
September 26, 2014
IT TOOK documentarian Ken Burns more than 11 hours to document the devastation of the Civil War. It took the creators of "The Civil War - The Musical" about a fifth of that time to convey with equal power and intensity, the story of the defining episode in our nation's history. There is much to praise about the production at Hammonton's Eagle Theatre, which runs through Oct. 5, beginning with the surprisingly solid and affecting score, which defies major expectations. Going in, the idea of recounting such a brutal and universally destructive event via contemporary musical formats, including rock and country, seemed frivolous and lightweight at best, trivializing and disrespectful at worst.
September 14, 2014 |
They are three of the most important individuals in American history. All had the last name Roosevelt, and all were beset by personal demons that threatened to cut them down. Theodore, Franklin Delano, and Eleanor Roosevelt helped define the American century, said Ken Burns, creator and director of PBS's epic 14-hour documentary, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History . Divided into seven two-hour episodes, it will air on consecutive nights beginning Sunday at 8 p.m. on PBS (locally on WHYY-TV12)
September 12, 2014 |
* THE ROOSEVELTS: AN INTIMATE HISTORY. 8 p.m. Sunday through Sept. 20, WHYY12. GEOFFREY C. Ward went into his interview with filmmaker Ken Burns determined to hold it together on camera. But as the biographer and longtime Burns collaborator speaks about Franklin D. Roosevelt being stricken with polio in 1921, for the fourth installment of PBS' "The Roosevelts: An Intimate History," he appears a bit choked up. "It produces terror," says Ward in one of the most moving passages of the series, which premieres Sunday and runs for 14 hours over seven nights.
May 17, 2014 |
HARRISBURG - The Pennsylvania State Archives released never-before-seen footage Thursday that captures what few Americans ever saw: President Franklin D. Roosevelt walking. Paralyzed by polio in 1921, Roosevelt went to great lengths to hide his disability from the public throughout his long political career, and news organizations complied, leaving extremely little in the way of a visual record of him walking. In the summer of 1937, Harrisburg native James "Jimmie" DeShong - who pitched for the Philadelphia Athletics - trained his home movie camera on Roosevelt as the president arrived at Griffith Stadium in Washington to watch the All-Star Game.
April 15, 2014 |
* THE ADDRESS. 9 p.m. tomorrow, WHYY12. KEN BURNS spent years hoping someone would make "The Address. " An intimate, uplifting film about a Vermont boarding school for students with learning disabilities for whom memorizing and reciting Abraham Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address" is a rite of passage, "The Address" struck Burns ("Baseball," "The War") as a great idea - for someone else. "They asked me about 10 years ago to be a judge" at the school's annual competition, said Burns, who lives and works in New Hampshire, not far from the Greenwood School, in Putney, Vt. "And I went and I just wept like a baby.
April 17, 2013 |
* THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE. 9 p.m. Tuesday, WHYY 12. SARAH BURNS didn't set out to become the Sofia Coppola of documentary filmmakers. Or to become a filmmaker at all. "I think I'd actually, in some ways, stayed away from it, because it was there," said Burns, whose first documentary, "The Central Park Five" - written, directed and produced with her father, Ken Burns ("The Civil War," "Baseball"), and her husband, David McMahon - makes its TV premiere Tuesday on PBS. "My mom [Ken Burns' first wife, Amy Stechler]
November 19, 2012 |
You get the impression that we'll run out of history before Ken Burns runs out of film. PBS' prized documentarian adds to his American chronicles - baseball, jazz, the Civil War, the national parks - another impressive period piece, The Dust Bowl . It's a deeply researched, visually superb two-part study of what the film terms "a decade-long natural catastrophe of biblical proportions. " Fittingly, the tone of narrator Peter Coyote's voice is reminiscent of Henry Fonda's, who starred in Hollywood's classic Dust Bowl saga, The Grapes of Wrath . The first chapter on Sunday night (8 p.m)
November 16, 2012
* THE DUST BOWL. 8 p.m. Sunday and Monday, WHYY 12. THEIR FACES are as weathered as the land they once lived on, but it's the survivors who bring PBS' "The Dust Bowl" to life. Still children when a frenzy of plowing and planting combined with years of drought to cause a disaster that for a period turned the country's heartland into a desert, they're one reason that Ken Burns' latest documentary couldn't have waited any longer. "We were very anxious, coming off ['The War']
October 4, 2012 |
NEW YORK - Lawyers for the city are seeking access to footage gathered by documentary filmmaker Ken Burns in research for his movie about the five men exonerated in the Central Park jogger rape case. The city has issued a subpoena for the outtakes and other materials from the film "The Central Park Five," its Law Department confirmed Wednesday. The request is connected to a $250 million federal lawsuit filed by the men against the city nine years ago, after their sentences were vacated.