Show Previews

Streaming Favorites for May

The Good Stuff

I’m not even sure I can pinpoint what this series is about, but I love it. It might be safe to say that it’s actually about everything. The hosts, Craig & Matt, explore a crazy diversity of topics, covering everything from wine tasting to warp drives. They’re funny, fun and generally seem like they would make nice neighbors. Dive in and learn something!

Re:Dream | Pursuits of Happiness

According to their site, this narrative project “is about people living in America as they navigate opportunity, meet obstacles, and pursue happiness in the 21st century.”

The is a huge collaboration between KCPT, Detroit Public TV, PBS SoCal, GPB, WETA and Thinkshift, and it amazes me completely. It’s digital and social. It’s beautifully shot and edited. It tells real, intimate stories. It shows how truly diverse our country is. Just go watch it. Now. Continue reading Streaming Favorites for May

Director’s Cut: Mike Batayeh & “Detroit Unleaded”

This week on Director’s Cut,  we welcome actor Mike Batayeh to discuss the film Detroit Unleaded. Mike is a co-lead in the film and while I primarily talk to directors and producers, I think it’s great to get a perspective from an actor’s point of view. Mike is animated and passionate about the film plus has a long list of acting credits. 

Detroit Unleaded tells the story of a young Arabic couple who meet at a gas station run by Sami (E.J.  Essi) in inner city Detroit. Sami takes over the operation after his father’s death and has bigger dreams. But when he meets Naj, played by the beautiful Nada Shouyahib, it helps ease the pain. Batayeh plays Sami’s cousin who has big entrepreneurial plans for the two of them as they compete with the more upscale, successful station in the neighborhood. Continue reading Director’s Cut: Mike Batayeh & “Detroit Unleaded”

Extended Report on “Too Many Candles: Milwaukee Gun Violence”

After the premiere of our most recent documentary, Too Many Candles: Milwaukee Gun Violenceour partners at Wisconsin Public Radio and the University of Wisconsin-Cooperative Extension decided to explore some of the issues addressed in the film, continuing the ongoing discussion surrounding gun violence in Milwaukee and in the nation. Below, follow the research and reporting done by Scott Gordon:

WATCH NOW: “Too Many Candles: Milwaukee Gun Violence”

Gordon’s three-part series on Milwaukee gun violence begins with some historical context. For a more nuanced view of the socio-economic segregation and the challenges faced by low-income families in Milwaukee, read How Milwaukee’s Economic, Social Disparities Correspond With Gun Violence

“Although crime, poverty and other social factors often overlap, mapping these factors in Milwaukee shows dramatic divisions that align with the city’s racial segregation.”

In this article, Gordon explores the focus on infamous zip-code 53206 – a series of numbers that, according to Gordon, “has become social-science and media shorthand for the violence, hunger, lack of opportunity and sense of hopelessness plaguing Milwaukee’s poorest residents.” Continue reading Extended Report on “Too Many Candles: Milwaukee Gun Violence”

Director’s Cut: Michael Neelsen & “Last Day at Lambeau”

Look alive Packer fans! This week on Director’s Cut,  I had the pleasure of interviewing director Michael Neelsen about his documentary Last Day at Lambeau. This is a fascinating look at the last days of Brett Favre’s career with the Green Bay Packers. Although the bridge between Favre and the Packer organization has recently been rebuilt, Last Day takes us back to when the unthinkable happened: Favre left the Packers and to make things worse, eventually donned a Minnesota Vikings uniform! 

Continue reading Director’s Cut: Michael Neelsen & “Last Day at Lambeau”

WPT Previews – Too Many Candles: Milwaukee Gun Violence

“We gather with far too many candles …”

Those are words of grief shared at a citywide vigil in Milwaukee for victims of gun violence. As the number of murders in the city has spiked in the past year, community members, police officials and city leaders are trying to answer questions that seem unanswerable as the dreams of more and more young people fall silent to a growing epidemic of homicides in the streets.

In this new documentary, award-winning journalist Frederica Freyberg explores the pain inflicted by the scourge of violence, law enforcement response to the rise in violent crime, and new programs providing hope for a city working to empower communities to reverse systemic forces of poverty, incarceration and crime that are tearing families and neighborhoods apart. In the search for answers, Freyberg interviews community members, public officials, church leaders and members of the families who have been directly affected by gun deaths in the city.

Too Many Candles: Milwaukee Gun Violence premieres 7 p.m. Monday, May 9 on WPT. The documentary will also stream online in full at wpt.org beginning the day of broadcast. The film will air on Milwaukee Public Television 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 14.

Too Many Candles: Milwaukee Gun Violence is part of WPT’s in-depth look at gun violence in America. The conversation will continue regularly on WPT’s weekly news and public affairs program, Here and Now, Friday nights at 7:30.

Two powerful Independent Lens documentaries on WPT May 9 and 10 will also cover national gun violence issues. Each film will be followed by an in-depth on-air town hall discussion:

Independent Lens: Peace Officer
8 p.m. Monday, May 9
Explore the effects of our increasingly militarized policing through the eyes of a former sheriff.

Independent Lens: The Armor of Light
7 p.m. Tuesday, May 10
Follow an Evangelical minister and the mother of a teenage shooting victim who ask, is it possible to be both pro-gun and pro-life?

The Next Base: “Jackie Robinson” by Ken Burns

In recognition of Jackie Robinson Day, we want to take another look at the new Ken Burns documentary about the life of the groundbreaking baseball player. Watch it  online through April 26.

Baseball is a springboard for immortality. As a game, it has the capacity to create idols every summer. Among the scores of heroes enshrined in bronze at Cooperstown, one player personifies the century-and-a-half long symbiosis between baseball and the long, breaking arc of the nation’s history: Jackie Robinson.

The life and legacy of Jack Roosevelt Robinson, the star who broke Major League Baseball’s color line, is the focus of the new documentary by Ken Burns. The two-episode and nearly four-hour Jackie Robinson is an expansive biography of the historic ballplayer: his childhood, his athletic feats and career, and most poignantly, his family.

The film is just as much a history of the African American experience in the 20th century, and of how Robinson came to personify the victories, disappointments and lessons of civil rights struggles. Robinson’s life intersected with the broad sweep of 20th century African American history, including displacement wrought by the Great Migration, new expectations inspired by service in World War II, the struggle of the post-war Civil Rights Movement, and ongoing racism as experienced through redlining and cynical political strategies. Continue reading The Next Base: “Jackie Robinson” by Ken Burns

Preview: 2016 Wisconsin Film Festival

Director’s Cut is back and we once again kick off our season with our annual Wisconsin Film Festival Episode 2016. After talking with Program Director Jim Healy, it’s obvious that the indie film scene is alive and well here in Wisconsin. Jim has been programming the Wisconsin Film Festival for almost a decade, and I don’t think I’ve ever met a bigger film enthusiast. His energy for the festival and film in general is infectious. 

Besides showing you wide variety of clips from domestic and international films at this year’s festival, I also had the privilege of interviewing some great local directors about their intriguing and outstanding films. Wendy Schneider discussed her film The Smart Studios Story. This is a great film about a recording studio based in Madison that produced some of the most influential music of the last 20 years, including albums by Garbage, Nirvana and The Smashing Pumpkins. Wendy’s film has been sold out at the festival for at least two weeks, but maybe you can find a respectable scalper if you’re really dedicated! Continue reading Preview: 2016 Wisconsin Film Festival

New Ken Burns: Jackie Robinson

Ken Burns’ newest documentary, Jackie Robinson, goes way beyond baseball and can turn anyone (even yours truly) into a fan.

The film – premiering 8 p.m. Monday, April 11 – draws you into mid-century America through sports, the civil rights movement, and an incredibly charismatic, strong ball player named Jackie.

My favorite aspect of Jackie Robinson (and of all Ken Burns’ films, really) is how it shows a deeply human side of this iconic superstar. Jackie’s relationship with his wife, Rachel, is so inspiring. They seem like an indomitable team, and I’m so glad she contributes her voice to the story. It gives a depth and perspective to their experience that I truly appreciate.

This movie also adds another layer of nuance and perspective to my understanding of race relations in the U.S. I can’t help but watch this film and think of how far we’ve come, and how much we still have to accomplish. The resistance to change that shows up in this documentary feels uncomfortably familiar, and some of the frustrations and inequalities that come through in the movie are still being experienced today. Ken Burns’ Jackie Robinson serves as a powerful reminder that we can do more, and we can expect more of ourselves.

Your Guide to British Drama Season Premieres

We may have said farewell to Downton Abbey, but British dramas still reign on WPT. March brings new seasons of Grantchester on Masterpiece and Mr. Selfridge on Masterpiece, and April welcomes a new season of Call the Midwife.

Clear your Sunday evenings and make a date with your favorite midwives, vicars and entrepreneurs. View premiere dates and season previews below.

Grantchester on Masterpiece: Season 2
Premieres 8 p.m. Sunday, March 27
Enjoy a new season of adventures, matchmaking and murder with vicar Sidney Chambers and veteran cop Geordie Keating.

Mr. Selfridge on Masterpiece: Season 4
Premieres 9 p.m. Sunday, March 27
See Jeremy Piven in the thrilling final season that dramatizes the climactic battle for the future of London’s iconic department store,
Selfridge & Co.

Call the Midwife: Season 5
Premieres 7 p.m. Sunday, April 3
Rejoin the nurses and midwives for a fifth season. It’s 1961 and Poplar is beginning to feel the winds of social change, along with improvements in housing, sanitation and healthcare.

Streaming Favorites for March

A lot of my favorite national dramas from PBS recently wrapped up, including Downton Abbey (let’s all share a moment of silence), and Mercy Street. In my search for great streaming content, I decided to bring it back home and focus on some of our locally-produced shows. So much of the quality content we broadcast at WPT is also available to watch online, so if you missed an episode – or if you’re a spoiled viewer like me, and only watch shows on-demand – check out some of our great, locally produced shows online.

Wisconsin Foodie
Kyle Cherek goes all over the state in a quest to discover the hidden gems of Wisconsin’s culinary scene. From cheese makers to beer distillers, Cherek shows us why it’s great to be a foodie in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Life
When you feel like you’re in a rut, Wisconsin Life can show you a new perspective and share some of the incredible, adventurous things going on across the state. This show highlights how diverse, creative and fun Wisconsinites truly are!

Continue reading Streaming Favorites for March