Downton Abbey creator calls PBS delay in season scheduling ‘madness’

Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes has weighed in on PBS's decision to delay airing the Masterpiece megahit for months after each season premieres in Britain. And as his countryfolk might say, he is cheesed off. “I want to have simultaneous transmission in America and Britain,” he tells the Telegraph of London. “The difficulty that we have is that people are discussing the series as it happens online before America’s seen it and on the internet we’re all in the same company. It’s madness.”

Then he adds: “It’s what I’d like, but who cares what I think?”

Scheduling Downton is a tricky subject for PBS. The blockbuster costume drama has always premiered in January on PBS, two months after the British airing. Continue Reading

Tuesday roundup: Pubmedia inspires poetry volume; ESPN prez responds to Kirk’s “whining”

• I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me! Granted, that's probably not among the verses in The Liberal Media Made Me Do It!, a new collection of poems based on public broadcasting stories and shows. But the book does contain pubmedia-centric contributions from more than 50 poets who were inspired by Radiolab, Performance Today, A Prairie Home Companion and other fare. “For me, the greatest delight in receiving these pieces has been to recognize the stories I have heard on the radio, with the added dimension of another’s perception added in,” writes editor Robbi Nester. “This brings home the truth that each of us could start with the same raw material and yet produce finished products that resemble one another only in incidental ways.”

The book is now available from Lummox Press. Continue Reading

PBS’s live-action Odd Squad aims to ‘make math relevant’ for kids

PBS Kids will expand the footprint of its math-focused programs with Odd Squad, a live-action TV series for school-aged children. The new show, which follows the fall 2013 debut of Peg + Cat, a preschool series presenting math concepts, will debut Nov. 26. Creators Tim McKeon and Adam Peltzman, who previously collaborated as television writers on another PBS Kids series for school-aged children, The Electric Company, are producing Odd Squad through Toronto-based Sinking Ship Entertainment and the Fred Rogers Company (which also produces Peg + Cat and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood for PBS). Odd Squad stars sleuths Olive and Otto, members of a detective agency who use math concepts to solve unusual mysteries around their town. Continue Reading

Masterpiece Trust secures $3 million gift from San Diego donor

SAN FRANCISCO – Amid previews of upcoming programming at the PBS Annual Meeting, including a groundbreaking 14-hour series on the Roosevelt family from Ken Burns, came extraordinary news of a record-setting donation for Masterpiece. Executive Producer Rebecca Eaton told attendees that the icon strand, through its Masterpiece Trust, will receive $3 million from longtime supporter Darlene Shiley on behalf of herself and her late husband Donald. Shiley’s local station, KPBS in San Diego, will share a portion of the contribution. The gift triples Shiley’s previously unprecedented $1 million donation in 2012. Since its inception in 2011, the trust has raised nearly $10 million for Masterpiece and local stations designated by donors. Continue Reading

PBS plans digital video service as premium for station members

Public television stations are hoping that special access to a rich library of PBS programs will convince viewers to become members and entice members to keep contributing. The multiplatform subscription program, with the working title MVOD (Membership Video on Demand), will be built atop COVE, PBS’s local-national video site. PBS is backing the initiative with $1.5 million in its fiscal 2015 budget. MVOD will feature past seasons of signature PBS general-audience series and provide stations with the ability to add locally produced series, said Ira Rubenstein, head of PBS Digital. “I think of it as Amazon Prime or Netflix, but only for station members,” he said. Continue Reading