A big national documentary project like The Roosevelts: An Intimate History means more than just a week of great TV on Wisconsin Public Television. It also means we get to see and hear more from filmmaker Ken Burns on a number of media platforms, including Comedy Central’s The Daily Show.
Below, watch Burns’ visit with Jon Stewart to talk about the three subjects of the film, whether they might succeed in today’s political landscape and how he attempted to tie together three stories that literally spanned from the Civil War through World War II. You’ll also – in the second clip – see the full, extended bonus interview that goes beyond what made the TV show.
Today is Mildred Fish-Harnack day in Wisconsin, an annual day to honor and remember the Wisconsin-born and raised hero who fought the Nazis in Germany and was the only American woman executed on direct orders of Adolf Hitler in World War II. Our friends at the Wisconsin Media Lab have created the new animated video below to do just that, as part of their ongoing Wisconsin Biographies project for teachers, families and all Wisconsin residents.
Last year on WPT’s University Place, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison outlined their search for the missing remains of United States Army Private Lawrence Gordon who was killed in action at Normandy in World War II.
Through their work, his remains have been found and positively identified in France and are arriving in Wisconsin Wednesday afternoon with a full escort of honor guards, the Wisconsin State Patrol and Wisconsin Patriot Guard Riders for a forensic examination that will further help his family learn more about how he perished in battle.
Private Gordon will then travel to his final resting place in Saskatchewan.
Today, BBC Radio listeners heard actor Benedict Cumberbatch read the original 8 a.m. news report that was broadcast 70 years ago on D-Day.
The original news bulletin offered the first warning to many Europeans that the D-Day invasion had begun. Throughout the day, the BBC will air several original D-Day bulletins read by the Masterpiece Mystery! “Sherlock” star and fellow actor Patrick Stewart. Listen to the recording below, and visit The Guardian for the full story.
My grandfather was drafted to serve in World War II soon after his 18th birthday. After leaving his Michigan home to undergo training, he boarded a ship and spent the entirety of his deployment on the water, sending and receiving Morse code messages and relaying the most urgent memos to the ship’s captain. His stories are vibrant, to say the least.
Every veteran has a unique story to tell, and each of their stories can come alive when they’re given the chance to tell them. While it’s true that historians have a plethora of knowledge, nothing can compare to hearing history narrated by those who lived it.
If you share my appreciation of first-hand stories, tune into WPT 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 4 for Day of Days: June 6, 1944 to witness four D-Day veterans share their accounts of the Normandy landing. Watch the foursome converse at the Museum of World War II in Natick, Massachusetts, sharing stories from the initial amphibious invasion to the battle’s aftermath.
Expect to be both enlightened and inspired by this compendium of poignant interviews that commemorates the 70th anniversary of the biggest armada in history.
Watch Churchill at 7 p.m. Starting Sunday, August 18 on Wisconsin Public Television.
I have always found it interesting to learn more about well-know people and places years after they were on the public’s mind. Nowadays, reporters are digging into people’s lives 24/7 and social media reveals just about everything they miss, it feels more like gossip than a story about who someone is or was. In the past, you only knew people for what they accomplished and who they were in the public eye, so it’s fascinating to dig deeper after it’s all said and done.
It’s almost like getting the how and the why answered when all you know is the what. Even if it’s something long in the past and the person is no longer living, there’s just a weird excitement about getting the back-story… What drove them to do what they did? How were they raised that led them to turn out the way they did? What were they really like when they stepped out of the public eye?
It seems like the vast majority of people only care about what someone has done or that something does in fact exist and not how it came to be. It sort of goes hand in hand with the saying “life is a journey, not a destination.” More often than not, it’s the journey that plays the biggest role in the final outcome; wouldn’t you agree?
It’s almost funny how unmanned drones are just now making it into mainstream media. The concept of a scouting plane has been around since day one and the technology on the manned versions advanced in leaps and bounds each decade. Going from mere aerial views to photographs to 3D photographs and eventually to actual satellite mapping of environments. It was really only a matter of time until we started seeing these advanced spying marvels out flying around without a pilot.
They almost started out as toys if you think about it. Crews would rig up a camera to small plane or helicopter and fly it over a region and collect the images when it returned. The key differences now are they’re more like mini jets, they’re heavily armed, the cameras are much more advanced and the pilot may be on the other side of the planet. These new drones have been flying high for years, but are just starting to catch everyone’s attention. Why? Most likely because the FAA regulations will be changing in 2015 and we may start seeing the use of drones more and more on (or over) U.S. soil.
Hundreds of larger police stations have already begun planning to use drones once they become available to help locate, track and combat crime. There are even a few Universities out there offering Bachelor’s programs for drone pilots as the demand begins to spike. Theorists have even started to boast that by 2025, there’s a good chance people in larger cities may be getting pulled over by unmanned drones rather than police cars… let’s just say the future is sure to be interesting.
Watch Nazi Mega Weapons at 9 p.m. starting Wednesday, July 17 on Wisconsin Public Television.
It’s scary to think of all the technology and advancements we take away from wars. I suppose it’s only natural that people become very innovative thinkers when they think their days are literally numbered. Just imagine how productive you could be with the motivation of knowing that no, maybe it can’t wait until tomorrow. The dishes would all be taken care of, laundry neatly folded… maybe the bed would even get made.
Sometimes I wonder what else was discovered or created on accident because something just had to get done. Reminds me of all the goofy candy bar creation stories where someone “dropped” something into the wrong vat and a new delicacy was born. Just about every time I’ve swapped in random ingredients to make up for one I was missing it turned into a disaster, but surely there are some success stories out there. I’m still amazed every time I’m reminded that things like Velcro, Memory Foam and ball point pens came from NASA. With the way the Nazis sparked such a technological revolution, it will be interesting to see just how much influence they have had on our everyday lives.
Garry Denny is Director of Programming for Wisconsin Public Television. He is responsible for the acquisition, scheduling and delivery of programming services on WPT, and each month, he gives you the inside scoop on the best new programs in his post “A Look Ahead.”
The War Normally I don’t use this space to write about a show or series that is repeating in the schedule. However, almost any series by famed documentary filmmaker Ken Burns deserves some attention and a second look. Certainly his seminal film The War is no exception. The 15-hour epic film is by almost any measure the most important, most in-depth and best documentary ever produced about World War II. Burns’ pure skill in weaving together complex issues with both familiar and unfamiliar historical events, along with truly moving personal stories makes The War an engrossing and utterly engaging television series. I know that committing to 15-hours of television viewing is nearly impossible these days, but do yourself a favor and tune-in for any part of this wonderful documentary. And, if you have a DVR just record the whole thing and watch each episode when you can. Trust me, it’s totally worth it. The War premieres 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 1 and continues through Wednesday, Aug. 8.
The Barnes Collection
When it comes to arts programming no one does it better than public television. In fact, no other broadcaster even does arts programming any more. And, just to be clear I’m not counting the reality junk like Dancing With the Stars, The Voice and American Idol – they are nothing more than hyped-up talent shows with 12-minutes of commercials. But, I digress. As part of PBS’ Summer of the Arts we’re airing a truly wonderful documentary about the preeminent art collection of Dr. Albert C. Barnes. In The Barnes Collection viewers are treated to a rare inside look at the life of the man, his amazing collection, and the design and building of the museum that houses his collection. The entire collection, estimated to be worth $20-$30 billion, famously contains more Cezannes than all of the museums in Paris and more than 180 Renoir’s. The documentary is partially told through the words of Barnes himself (as performed by a voice actor) and explores his life, his approach to art collecting and ultimately the legacy he left behind. For a man that amassed all of his wealth manufacturing a drug to treat gonorrhea, he certainly put his money to good use and left the world with a priceless treasure. The Barnes Collection premieres 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 5 and encores on at 10:05 p.m. Monday, Aug. 6.
Whether you’re an animal lover or not (I am), everyone loves babies in the animal kingdom. In our wonderful special Orangutan Diary you will certainly get your fix of cute, cuddly orangutans to ooh and coo over. But, there’s more to this documentary than just fun video of these amazing creatures. This moving and uplifting documentary follows the work of the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation as their vets and caregivers provide a safe sanctuary for over 600 orangutans whose natural habitat, the rain forest, is slowly being burned down around them. Then there are the score of orphaned orangutans whose parents were either illegally poached or sold as pets. The documentary is so good at exposing the problems faced by the orangutan population, the love and care of the foundation staff, and the bonds formed between humans and our distant cousins. It’s a wonderful hour of television. Orangutan Diary premieres at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 15.