Tag Archives: Garry Denny

What We Watch: Garry Denny

Bringing Wisconsin Public Television’s delightful mix of programming together takes a lot more work than most of us realize. Beyond PBS itself, WPT previews and purchases programs from American Public Television, the BBC, our own local production teams and multiple other independent sources.

Garry Denny

In our latest installment of What We Watch, we chat with Garry Denny, WPT’s director of programming. A member of our staff since 1986, he’s the one who brings it all together: acquisition, scheduling and delivery of programming services on WPT’s six-station network.

Read more to find out what Garry is most looking forward to in WPT’s fall schedule!
Continue reading What We Watch: Garry Denny

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

A Look Ahead With WPT's Director of Programming

Read up on this month’s “don’t miss” programs selected by Director of Programming, Garry Denny.
You can find all the programs listed below and more on the WPT Schedule.

DCI Banks
Every October I pack a small bag and take a flight to New Orleans for a preview screening of new BBC program offers. The event, BBC Showcase, is a 2-day affair where approximately 100 public television programmers from around the country gather to watch extended clips of dozens of BBC dramas, comedies and documentaries being offered for our schedules. Admittedly it can be exciting to see what’s new and available, but right DCI Banksaround the 9th or 10th long clip I get a little fidgety and want to leave the cold, dark screening room for the fun of the French Quarter. This past year, however, the desire to bolt for the great outdoors was delayed by clips from the new BBC crime drama series DCI Banks. After just seven minutes of the first episode I was hooked. The main character Alan Banks (played by Stephen Tompkinson of Ballykissangel) is a seasoned, no-nonsense chief detective who leads a unit of investigators that catch the most high profile and complex cases. The stories in each episode are gritty, engaging, and at times quite challenging – for the investigators and the audience. I love DCI Banks and if you give the show a shot I think you’ll fall in love as well. DCI Banks premieres on Friday, January 11 at 9 p.m. and runs for seven weeks.

Frontline: Inside Obama’s Presidency
I’ve said it before, but I think it bears repeating: Frontline is THE best investigative journalism show on television. With the long campaign over and election decided Frontline takes an in-depth look at President Obama’s first four years in office, and looks ahead to the next four years. Using Frontline’s unrivaled access to politicians and White House confidants the documentary paints the picture of a presidency that began with so much hope and promise, but stumbled along the way while learning some very tough lessons about governing our complex nation. “Inside Obama’s Presidency” examines both the triumphs and failures, leaving the viewer with a deeper understanding of not just the man, but the maddening inner workings of government. Frontline “Inside Obama’s Presidency” premieres on Tuesday, January 15 at 9 p.m. and encores on Wednesday, January 16 at 10 p.m.


Independent Lens: Beauty is Embarrassing
Some films are just so hard to describe. But defying description is what makes “Beauty is Embarrassing” such a wonderful film. You may not know the name Neil Berkeley, but I’ll Beauty is Embarrassingbet you’ve seen his work. Neil is an artist who first came to national attention as a designer, illustrator, animator and puppeteer for the classic kids’ series Pee Wee’s Playhouse. As an artist Neil has a unique, bizarre and unassuming style that is just plain fun. Well, strange and fun to be sure. In “Beauty is Embarrassing” we enter Neil’s world and are immediately taken by just how prolific he has been in his career as we are introduced to his paintings, sculptures, living art, animations and quirky sense of humor. This film will make you smile, laugh out loud and pat yourself on the back for spending the hour with Wisconsin Public Television. Independent Lens “Beauty is Embarrassing” premieres on Monday, January 21 at 9 p.m.

NOVA: Who Killed Lindbergh’s Baby?
It’s clear that American television audiences have a fascination with true crime stories. Almost everything about it catches our attention – the victim, the crime, the perpetrator, the law and legal wrangling. It’s all-so very Law & Order-ish (my favorite drama series of all time). Jumping into the fray is our esteemed science series NOVA with an episode titled “Who Killed Lindbergh’s Baby?” The facts of the crime are well-known: on the evening of March 1, 1932 the baby boy of Charles and Anne Lindbergh was kidnapped from their home in Hopewell, NJ and after weeks of failed ransom negotiations the boy was found dead less than five miles away from home. For this documentary the team at NOVA decided to reopen the investigation and lend a new, more scientific approach to determining the truth. Using state-of-the-art forensics and behavioral science techniques the team of investigators seek to determine what happened, who the true culprits are and why baby Lindbergh was kidnapped on the first place. Despite the age of the crime and what you may think you already know, this is a gripping hour of television. NOVA “Who Killed Lindbergh’s Baby?” premieres on Wednesday, January 30 at 8 p.m. and encores on Tuesday, February 5 at 11 p.m.

A Look Ahead With WPT's Director of Programming

Read up on this month’s “don’t miss” programs selected by Director of Programming, Garry Denny.
You can find all the programs listed below and more on the WPT Schedule.

Great Performances “Magical Mystery Tour Revisited”
I have to be honest: I’m a fair weather Beatles fan. I like the well-known hits, but have much less appreciation for deeper cuts on their albums and literally no appreciation for their films. To some of you that may seem somewhat sacrilegious, but c’mon those films are just plain dreadful. We are all quite familiar with A Hard Day’s Night and Help!, but in 1967 the band made a film titled Magical Mystery Tour. To say that the film was a complete departure from their previous work would be an understatement. When the film debuted on the BBC in Beatles-Magical-Mystery-Tour-PBSAugust 1967 a stunned British public was quite turned off by the film’s surreal, nearly imperceptible storyline and images of anarchy. The reaction was both swift and strong – most who saw it hated it.

In Great Performances “Magical Mystery Tour Revisited” the filmmakers set out to explore the origins of the film, why it was made and the circumstances in which it was made. There are interviews with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr as well as archival footage of John Lennon and George Harrison talking about the film, including outtakes from the film itself. “Magical Mystery Tour Revisited” is a fascinating study of artist excess, hubris and lack of insight into audience expectations. Great Performances “Magical Mystery Tour Revisited” premieres 10:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14 and is immediately followed by the Magical Mystery Tour film in its entirety at 11:30.

First Freedom: The Fight for Religious Liberty
One genre that has become a staple of PBS programs is documentaries that have dramatic reenactments to help tell and propel a story laden with historical facts. Of course, if you tune around the dial you can see any number of cheesy documentaries with poorly acted and executed reenactments, but producers for public television deliver high quality productions. In our new documentary First Freedom: The Fight for Religious Freedom, the story of America’s founding fathers (and mothers!) struggle to make religious freedom a part of law comes to life. Using interviews with present day authorities on the subject of faith and American history, intertwined with historical dramatic reenactments, the documentary is an engaging film that successfully tells a little explored part of American history. During my preview of the film I initially felt like I wouldn’t make it to the end, but ultimately it not only held my attention, but also made me glad that I stuck with it. First Freedom: The Fight for Religious Liberty premieres 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18.


Breakfast Special 2: Revenge of the Omelets
I can’t think of anyone that doesn’t like breakfast. We all have been told it’s the most important meal of the day, but it can also be the most satisfying meal of the day. Several years ago producer Rick Sebak (A Hot Dog Program, A Flea Market Documentary) produced Breakfast Special in which he tantalized audiences with visits to cafes, restaurants and roadside eateries known for their breakfast food and atmosphere. A Breakfast Special 2 Lobster HashIt’s impossible to watch this parade of pancakes, waffles, eggs, bacon and pastries and not instantly crave some breakfast. Well, luckily for our taste buds Sebak has returned with a sequel title Breakfast Special 2: Revenge of the Omelets.  In the special Sebak visits more breakfast joints in search of unique menu items that keep locals coming back for more. Like the first special, I dare you to watch this new show without salivating and needing to get your breakfast fix. I don’t want to give away much more, but leave you with two words: lobster hash. Breakfast Special 2: Revenge of the Omelets premieres 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 25 followed by the original Breakfast Special, which you can watch online now.

Call the Midwife Holiday Special
For fans of this breakout PBS series this is nothing but great news. The first season may have come and gone, but we have an all-new holiday special premiering 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 30. Also, I’m pleased to tell you that season two of Call the Midwife premieres on Wisconsin Public Television in late March 2013. We’re committed to this wonderful series and are glad that it has found a home on public television.