Bellantoni to oversee all <em>NewsHour</em> political coverage
PBS NewsHour has a new political editor as of Jan. 2. Christina Bellantoni of CQ Roll Call oversees the newsroom’s political coverage on-air and online, including political analysis, elections and personalities. Her predecessor, David Chalain, departed in November to lead the Washington bureau of Yahoo News. Bellantoni has spent more than a decade covering national political and business news in Washington, D.C., and California.
American Public Media’s president, Jon McTaggart, won re-election to the NPR Board this summer but won’t be taking the seat after all. McTaggart resigned from the board at NPR’s request after an outside legal analysis determined that his promotion to president of APM and Minnesota Public Radio presented a potential conflict of interest with his service on the NPR Board. Since his first election to the board three years ago, McTaggart had been promoted from chief operating officer to chief exec of American Public Media Group, the parent company of APM/MPR. That put him uniquely and simultaneously on the boards of the two largest producers and distributors of public radio programming. Marita Rivero, v.p. and g.m. of WGBH’s television and radio stations, will fill the NPR Board vacancy instead.
In 2011, as partisan critics attacked NPR, Frontline chief David Fanning urged public media to specialize in strong journalism. Fanning, who was accepting Quinnipiac University's annual Fred Friendly First Amendment Award, quoted the famed CBS News producer: public TV's "most precious right will be the right to rock the boat."
Henry Becton, whose employer co-produced a lot of television programs with British broadcasters, is now an Honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE). The CBE, issued by order of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, was presented by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales at an investiture ceremony May 5 at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., in recognition of Becton’s “extraordinary service to the arts and entertainment industry,” the embassy said in a statement. Under Becton’s leadership, from 1984 until his retirement in 2007, “WGBH was the American co-producer of some of the most prestigious British dramas and documentaries made during that time,” the embassy said. Becton and colleagues in Boston oversaw co-production of many TV dramas presented as part of Masterpiece Theatre or Mystery! on PBS, including The Jewel in the Crown, Upstairs Downstairs, Rumpole of the Bailey, the Inspector Morse, Sherlock Holmes and Poirot mysteries, and numerous science and nature documentaries.
The Secret Life of Scientists, produced by Seftel Productions for WGBH's Nova unit, won a Streamy
The online series on PBS.org was judged the best reality or documentary series in the Streamy Awards announced in May. What's a Streamy? Streamy awards, which just had their second annual outing, recognize program series streamed on the Internet — a category that Streamy organizers believe is a big enough deal that it warrants this new competition apart from the Webbie awards. The e.p. of The Secret Life of Scientists has had notable successes in an early cable "reality" hit as well as public TV and indie docs. Joshua Seftel directed the movie War Inc. and the cable hit Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and produced more than 50 segments for WGBH's Greater Boston Arts, and the P.O.V. doc Taking on the Kennedys.
David Fanning, e.p. of Frontline, discussed the WGBH program's evolving use of the Web Aug. 23, 2010, in accepting the Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism at Harvard University's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy. At the same time, the Center honored the winner and finalists for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting. One of the four finalists was a reporting project, including a Frontline doc, "Law & Disorder." The film about white vigilante activities in New Orleans was prepared in collaboration with ProPublica, the Nation Institute and the New Orleans Times-Picayne.
David Fanning, the founding executive producer of PBS's Frontline series, gave this talk in 2009 as the annual James L. Loper Lecture in Public Service Broadcasting sponsored by the University of Southern California's Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy. Thank you, Geoff Cowan and Dean Wilson, for your kind words, and especially for your invitation to come here to the Annenberg School to give the annual Loper Lecture. This also gives me a chance publicly to thank Jim Loper, for the years of work he gave not just to KCET but as a leader in public broadcasting. It’s an honor to be invited in his name. I would also like to thank Mr. Russell Smith for his sponsorship of this lecture.
Seven years after WGBH began its on-demand video archive of the often-stellar lectures and cultural events of the Boston area, it’s getting substantial national-level support for expansion to other cities. CPB contributed a two-year, $585,000 grant to assist expansion, as the station announced (without the price tag) Feb. 17. NPR and PBS also will help support the initiative, WGBH announced a week later.
Suspecting that Masterpiece Theatre is showing its age after 36 seasons — an eon in TV years — the program’s producers at Boston’s WGBH will “polish” the brand and expand into new media platforms in order to bring more structure and predictability to the schedule and reach the next generation of Sunday night drama fans. The same courtly theme music by French composer Jean-Joseph Mouret will open the program, but it will lose the little tabletop journey of its video opening and half of the series name. The producers will drop “Theatre” and add headings for three distinct seasonal strands: Masterpiece Contemporary in the fall, Masterpiece Classics in winter/spring and Masterpiece Mystery! (working title) in the summer slot Mystery! now fills.