Tag Archives: Frontline

Meet Wisconsin’s 2017 PBS Digital Innovator: David Olson

In April, we introduced you to David Olson, chair of the social studies department at Madison’s James Madison Memorial High School. As Wisconsin’s 2017 PBS Digital Innovator, he was one of 52 educators across the country to attend the 2017 PBS Digital Summit. Read their stories.

WPT spoke with Olson shortly after his return from the Digital Summit in San Antonio.

“Having access to high quality digital resources, and finding ways for teachers to connect with one other and foster innovation, can only lead to good things,” says Olson. “It will lead to much better outcomes for students; we’re creating citizens who hopefully will be ready to be full participants in a very different world than the one in which many WPT members might have grown up.”

For more great resources for educators, kids and anyone who loves to learn, visit WPT Education.

Continue reading Meet Wisconsin’s 2017 PBS Digital Innovator: David Olson

Experience the Sounds of Solitary

What does solitary confinement sound like? In the short film below from our colleagues at FRONTLINE, experience a solitary existence that is anything but silent. Then, join us Tuesday night at 8 on Wisconsin Public Television for the powerful new FRONTLINE documentary, “Last Days of Solitary.” In the film, producers take us inside a Maine prison to learn what happens when prisoners from solitary confinement try to re-enter society, and why leaders in that state are trying to decrease its use of this isolating correction tactic.

Click here to listen to an exclusive Wisconsin Public Radio interview with FRONTLINE Executive Producer and UW-Madison alumna Raney Aronson-Rath from her recent visit to Wisconsin.

The Real Story Behind “Concussion”

Have plans to see the new Will Smith film, Concussion, this holiday season? Watch FRONTLINE‘s powerful documentary, League of Denial, online or on the PBS channel of your Roku or other digital device now and hear firsthand interviews with the real Dr. Bennet Omalu about his work around the NFL’s concussion challenges.

A Look Ahead with WPT’s Director of Programming: Fall 2015

 “There are only 21 hours of prime time in the week. We can’t expand time.” – Garry Denny, Director of Programming

The summer is growing short, and as kids get excited about fresh crayon sets, adults anticipate a new broadcast season full of zombies, dragons and political intrigue. I spoke with our director of programing, Garry Denny, to see what exactly goes into crafting a successful fall schedule.

Whitechapel premieres in October

“As with all fall schedules, there’s a great deal of optimism,” Denny says. “We feel like everything we put on the air has a great deal of value to our viewers. Having said that, there’s a certain amount of reality that sets in. There’s a lot of competition out there.” Continue reading A Look Ahead with WPT’s Director of Programming: Fall 2015

Parkinson's and Modern Dance Meet in 'Capturing Grace'

Capturing Grace airs 9 p.m. Friday on Director’s Cut. Watch an encore 6 p.m. Sunday, June 28, following the film Life With Parkinson’s or watch Capturing Grace for free on-demand at video.wpt.org.

Dave Iverson and host Pete Schwaba
Click to watch the interview now.

This week on Director’s Cut we welcome director David Iverson to discuss his film, Capturing Grace.

Capturing Grace follows several people with Parkinson’s disease and tells the story of what happens when they team up with acclaimed dancers from Brooklyn’s highly regarded Mark Morris Dance Group. Iverson is quite familiar with this debilitating disease. Not only does he suffer from Parkinson’s, his father and brother do as well and his passion for telling this story, and filmmaking in general, are evident from the start of the interview.

Watching people with Parkinson’s dance is fascinating in that those with the most advanced stages seem almost more at ease dancing than sitting still. The most severe case in the film is Cindy, who struggles through sentences when talking and is constantly moving while sitting. Watching her dance so fluidly is fascinating and therapeutic even to the viewer.

One of the other cases in the film is Charlie, a former star athlete and fitness guru. Seeing Charlie embrace dance as an escape and new form of exercise is even more uplifting than it is heartbreaking. The moments of ‘grace’ in this engaging documentary are too many to list.

Iverson is a Wisconsin Public Television alum. He worked as a writer, reporter and executive producer during his time at WPT and it was a pleasure to interview him and to see his excitement for being back in Madison.

Dancers in a still from the film Capturing Grace
“Capturing Grace” airs Friday night. Encore broadcast 6 p.m. Sunday.

He also was the writer, correspondent and co-producer/director of the award-winning 2009 Frontline documentary My Father, My Brother and Me which also explores Parkinson’s and his family’s experience with the disease.

His new film, Capturing Grace is as informative as it is entertaining with each character experiencing their own personal triumph of the human spirit. If you or anyone you know has Parkinson’s or if you just appreciate deft storytelling, please join my this Friday night for Director’s Cut. Hope to see you then!

The NFL's Concussion Crisis

Chris Borland is a household name to many Badger football fans and was on the verge of national celebrity following a successful rookie season with the San Francisco 49ers. This week, Borland made the biggest news of his football career by announcing that it is over. He has decided to retire after one season citing concerns about his health and safety.

Several NFL players have cut their careers short due to concerns about the effects of repetitive impacts to the head, but Borland is among the youngest and by his own account does not show any symptoms of brain injury. In an ESPN Outside the Lines article, Borland said, “I feel largely the same, as sharp as I’ve ever been. For me, it’s wanting to be proactive.”

“I just thought to myself, ‘What am I doing? Is this how I’m going to live my adult life, banging my head, especially with what I’ve learned and know about the dangers?'”

Poster for Frontline: League of Denial: The NFLs Concussion Crisis
Watch League of Denial at video.wpt.org

By retiring, Borland has fanned the conversation over concussions and brain injuries in football. That conversation went mainstream when Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru, the authors of the ESPN article, wrote the book that provided the foundation for the 2013 Frontline film “League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis.” The book and film investigate how the NFL denied and worked to refute scientific evidence that violent collisions in football are linked to long-term brain injuries.

In recent years, the NFL has has instated new rules to reduce the amount of high-velocity impacts on the playing field and now requires players with concussion-like symptoms to be medically cleared before returning to a game.

League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis is streaming free online at video.wpt.org. You can also explore the latest news about football related brain injuries on the Frontline website.

A Look Ahead with WPT's Director of Programming: Spring 2015

“My job is not to put great programming on television; My job is to keep really bad programming off television. There’s far more bad television than there is good television to consider.” – Garry Denny, Director of Programming

Each year, WPT Director of Programming Garry Denny sifts through a mind-boggling amount of content. Denny may have started his career entering logs by typewriter at Howard University’s WHMM (now WHUT), but for the past 17 years he’s ensured that WPT brings you – our viewers – the highest quality programming available on public television. With the New Year fast approaching, Denny sat down and told me about some of his upcoming favorites for 2015:

The Story of Cancer
In the short term, I think we’re all excited about the new production from Ken Burns Florentine Films. Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies is directed by Barak Goodman and based off of the book, which did really well. The six-hour series is heartbreaking, but to some degree it’s also hopeful. The film will be broadcast in the early springtime, and it’s full of personal stories from cancer patients. Some of them do well and some of them don’t, but it gives you an overview of how cancer has really become this – as it says in the book – emperor of all maladies. It’s difficult to treat and it’s difficult to cure even 30 or 40 years after the Nixon administration launched a so-called war on cancer.

Bigger Than Vegas
Frontline has a new documentary which has been delayed and won’t broadcast until next fall because of continued reporting. They’re featuring Macau, a small region of China that’s become the gambling capital of the world. It not only rivals but outdoes Vegas in terms of the number of casinos and the amount of money that’s exchanged. The upcoming program talks about how corruption is prevalent because of all of the gambling.

I’m looking forward to seeing this episode, as I am with all new episodes of Frontline. I sit down to watch certain episodes thinking, “Well, I might be interested in this,” and then I get sucked in. They do a fantastic job. People can argue with me if they want, but I still think it’s the best journalistic documentary series on television anywhere. Continue reading A Look Ahead with WPT's Director of Programming: Spring 2015

Programs to be Thankful For

The Thanksgiving holiday brings about an abundance of food, family and friends. But it’s also a great time to catch up on the abundance of great television you may have missed this fall season.

Image from A Sloth Named Velcro
Still from Nature “A Sloth Named Velcro”

If you find yourself with some free time after the meal is served, the dishes done and the shopping complete, look to the thousands of videos streaming at video.wpt.org and on your Roku, Apple TV or other streaming device.

My favorite video this fall has been Nature “A Sloth Named Velcro.” Check out the cute and cuddly (just watch the hooks) sloths during your downtime this holiday weekend. For some serious binge watching, look to the archive of Frontline documentaries, or Masterpiece, which has “Worricker” as well as the complete second season of “The Paradise.”

Here are some other highlights. Happy watching.

A Chef’s Life “R-E-S-P-E-C-T the Butterbean”
Full disclosure here…I actually haven’t watched this episode yet. That’s because I spent the evening making Chef Vivian’s butterbean burgers featured in the episode. They’re absolutely delicious, if a little soft in texture. Best of all, the recipe has left me with a freezer filled with patties that fry up quickly.

Wisconsin Life “Winter”
Winter is tough here. We love it. We hate it. We talk about it…a lot. If you’ve endured a Wisconisn winter, you’ll get a smile, or cringe, out of this short story by Beloit College professor Christi Clancy.

To Catch a Comet
Although the Philae lander that touched down on comet 67P/Churymov–Gerasimenko earlier this month has gone silent, the Rosetta spacecraft continues to monitor the comet from a close distance. With this film, get inside access to the team behind the Rosetta mission and learn exactly how the European Space Agency managed to land on a comet.


Retiring? Place Your Bets

Watch Frontline: The Retirement Gamble tonight (Tuesday, Aug. 19) at 9 p.m. on WPT.

I feel comfortable taking some chances in life. Exploring a new country by myself? Sure. Trying a recipe that sounds utterly questionable? Sign me up. But despite my general openness to chance, I’d rather not gamble on my future retirement.

I’m 99.9 percent sure I’m not the only person who takes retirement seriously. Frontline: The Retirement Gamble first aired last year. The premiere prompted conversations about the security of our nation’s retirement structure, and many took to Twitter to voice their opinions.

Just had a chance to watch @frontlinepbs‘s #TheRetirementGamble – great exposé for the general public.
— Jeffrey Guenette (@gunetty) April 29, 2013

Not yet 30 yo but I should probably start thinking about my retirement. It doesn’t look too sunny via @frontlinepbs
— Hannah Yi (@hannahyi) May 3, 2013

Every American should watch this…The Retirement Gamble | FRONTLINE | PBS
— Keith Fitzgerald (@keithmfitz) April 21, 2013

“You put up 100% of the capital, you take 100% of the risk, and you get 30% of the return.”
— Jason Breslow (@jbrezlow) March 27, 2013

If you missed the initial broadcast, you’re in luck. Tonight at 9 p.m., the popular program returns to Wisconsin Public Television for an encore presentation – and you can watch it online now, below. If you’re interested in learning more about planning for retirement and why, according to Frontline, it’s a gamble as to whether IRAs or 401Ks will assure a safe retirement, tune in. Be sure to share your thoughts about the program with us by tweeting @wispublictv or commenting on Facebook!

Remembering Nelson Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom

As the world responds to Nelson Mandela’s passing, Frontline has made The Long Walk of Nelson Mandela — its definitive two-hour documentary film on the remarkable leader — available to watch online for the first time. (WPT will broadcast the film 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13)

In the 1999 documentary, Frontline tells the intimate and surprising story of a Mandela few people know: a bomb-throwing revolutionary who became a skilled politician in prison, and a passionate man who sacrificed the love of his life for a country that needed him more.

Widely hailed as the definitive television biography of Mandela, the documentary draws on stories and insights from Mandela’s closest colleagues, fellow prisoners, friends and political adversaries — as well as unique photos and rare archival film — to paint an intimate portrait of one of the 20th century’s greatest leaders.


More from PBS
Visit PBS NewsHour for ongoing coverage of the global response to the death of Nelson Mandela.

On June 26, 1990, Washington Week devoted an entire show to Nelson and Winnie Mandela’s visit to the United States. Watch Part 1 and Part 2 of the special which includes coverage of Mandela’s visits to New York, Boston and Washington D.C. where he met President George H.W. Bush and gave a rare speech to a joint meeting of Congress.