Oh, the places you'll go

Watch Nature “White Falcon, White Wolf” at 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 16 on Wisconsin Public Television.

I am constantly amazed by the far-flung locales that I am able to visit just by flipping the television channel to Wisconsin Public Television. Who knows if that click of the remote will take me to the floor of the Capitol,  the forests of northern Wisconsin or beyond.

This Sunday, Nature takes viewers to a remote Canadian island to introduce us to two fascinating creatures that strive against common sense to thrive in an environment that only affords them less than three months of non-freezing temperatures. The arctic wolf and white gyrfalcon are beautiful creatures that fight the elements each year to make sure their species survives.

Watch a preview segment from the program below:

Meet the Children of Haiti

Watch Independent Lens “Children of Haiti” at 9:00 p.m. Friday, Jan. 14 on Wisconsin Public Television.

This touching film shows you what it’s like to be one of the many children living on the streets of Haiti.  What most people don’t realize is that even before the earthquake in January of 2010, more than 500,000 children were wandering the streets of Haiti.  Conditions only got worse after the quake, more children and families are without shelter and sanitary food and water. Producer/Director Alexandria Hammond brings us this amazing and eye-opening film that follows three teenage boys as they reflect on life in Haiti and their common dreams of education and government assistance.

The Dude Abides on WPT

Watch American Masters – Jeff Bridges: The Dude Abides at 9 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 12 on Wisconsin Public Television.

Jeff Bridges is one of our country’s finest actors. Outside of his effortless silver screen roles, it is his easy-going, genuine everyman persona that has endeared him to fans like me. Sure, we know and love him as The Dude in The Big Lebowski, Rooster Cogburn in True Grit, Bad Blake in Crazy Heart (it finally won him that well-deserved Oscar) and even Kevin Flynn from Tron (both of them!), but this program presents the lesser-known aspects of his life. Bridges is a devoted family man, humanitarian, musician and artist.

Before the show’s premiere, Bridges sat down and answered a few questions from PBS about the development of the documentary and whether there is still a bit of The Dude left inside him.

Downton Abbey

Watch Masterpiece Classic “Downton Abbey” at 8:00 p.m. Sundays, starting Jan. 9 on Wisconsin Public Television.  Encore of each episode Mondays at 10:00 p.m.

The series that took the UK by storm is coming to Wisconsin Public Television.  Created by Oscar-winning writer Julian Fellowes, Downton Abbey is a fascinating production that brings the past to life with an amazing cast of actors.  On top of an already wonderful set and costumes, the story of this interesting family is told from multiple different perspectives with a bit of modern humor.  To truly appreciate this series staring Hugh Bonneville, Maggie Smith and Elizabeth McGovern, you need to catch each of the four parts, the first of which is this Sunday.  Don’t miss out on this amazing program from Masterpiece about a family who lost so many on the Titanic!  I’ve added a preview of the first episode below, you can view more clips here.
My personal favorite – “What is a week end?”

In Wisconsin returns this week

Watch In Wisconsin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday on Wisconsin Public Television.

After a December hiatus, In Wisconsin returns this week with a new program that covers the state and the stories impacting Wisconsin citizens.

This week, join host Patty Loew as In Wisconsin features reports on Manitowoc photographers who are reviving the art of studio-portrait postcards, how the current economic downturn has resulted in record enrollment at colleges in the state, a Chinese business etiquette program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Business and the advantage of value-added agriculture to a Waterloo farm.

Visit the In Wisconsin web page to watch all of the program’s archived reports.

Don’t forget to check out the WPT News and Public Affairs Producer’s Journal blog for behind-the-scenes insight and stories about upcoming reports.

The Life of Robert E. Lee

Watch American Experience: Robert E. Lee at 10:00 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 4 on Wisconsin Public Television.

Some hated him, others considered him a god.  Even a century and a half after his death, his life has continued to amaze people.  Find out why a military general serving during the bloodiest years in American history is celebrated with statues in countless cities and featured on two postage stamps.  American Experience covers the life and reputation of Robert E. Lee in this can’t-miss documentary.  I’ve attached a brief preview below, note this is not for WPT and you should ignore the January 3rd air date.

Climate Wisconsin

Climatewisconsin.org is your one-stop shop for information on climate change in Wisconsin.  The site features several stories from around the state as well as a few interactive tools like the one pictured above. They are very helpful if you would like to see years of data and projections compiled into an attractive layout that is easy to understand.  The stories themselves provide a variety of different ways to look at how climate change will affect Wisconsin and the people who live here.  I think you’ll find it interesting to see how our hobbies, health and the economy can all be affected by the rising temperatures we have seen over the years.  Visit Climate Wisconsin and explore some of these amazing stories presented through videos and slideshows.

New Years Eve with WPT

The year is coming to an end, and I for one am anxious to see what the new year will bring.  This year, sit back and celebrate with Wisconsin Public Television for a night of amazing music.  Starting off the night is the New York Philharmonic New Year’s Eve concert featuring pianist Lang Lang.  Live from the Lincoln Center in New York and straight to your TV, watch Alan Gilbert conduct Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and The Nutcracker.

The night continues with a look back at some of the most treasured soul hits from the 60’s and 70’s with Soul Rewind.  A large amount of music was recovered from Europe to put this collection together featuring artists like Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Otis Reading, Lou Rawls, Gladys Knight and many more.

To keep the music going, don’t miss an encore presentation of Stevie Wonder’s special concert in London to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Motown Records.  To top it all off, we wrap up the night with an episode of our locally produced show, The 30-Minute Music Hour.  While I haven’t seen every episode, I have yet to be disappointed and look forward to this episode featuring Les Breastfeeders.

Friday, December 31
8:00 p.m. – New York Philharmonic New Year’s Eve with Lang Lang
10:00 p.m. – Aretha Franklin: Soul Rewind
11:30 p.m. – Great Performances “Stevie Wonder: Live at Last”
12:30 a.m. – 30-Minute Music Hour

Gustavo Takes L.A.

Watch Great Performances “Celebracion: Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic With Juan Diego Florez at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 29 on Wisconsin Public Television.

On a recent trip to Los Angeles, I was struck by just how much the city has caught Gustavo Dudamel fever. I knew that the classical music world had great hopes for the energetic conductor to be a catalyst for drawing new audiences to the genre, but I didn’t realize how far that spread into the community until I started seeing Dudamel’s face on street signs, billboards, buses and throughout the corridors of Los Angeles International Airport. I haven’t had the chance to see Dudamel in person, but even through television, his energy, passion and excitement are readily apparent. See a bit of it in the preview video below. Then, watch the full performance with tenor Juan Diego Florez on WPT.