Shows sate ‘appetite for a real-world experience’

Know something about antiques? Prove it,” screamed the ad seeking “pickers” for Market Warriors, the long-awaited companion series to PBS’s most popular primetime program, Antiques Roadshow. Though PBS pioneered the concept of reality television with American Family and other cinema verité documentary series, it refrained from adding more reality TV as the genre became a staple of commercial television. But with the coming summer season and beyond, PBS is dipping into the reality game. A trio of unscripted programs — each coproduced by Boston’s WGBH— will premiere within the next year. Continue Reading

Former WGBH broadcast engineer Vern Coleman dies

Vern Coleman, 86, who worked 14 years as an audio engineer at WGBH working on such shows as The French Chef, The Boston Pops and Evening at Symphony, died March 18 at his home in Marstons Mills, Mass., after a long battle with leukemia. He was nominated for a primetime Emmy Award for best live sound in 1976, for his work on New Year’s Eve at Pops; he attended the Emmy ceremonies in Hollywood but lost to the soundman for Johnny Carson. Coleman also worked  as a contract engineer for WBUR in Boston, among other stations, and as a staff engineer of commercial WCVB. The lifelong resident of Cape Cod was born in Hyannis to local artist and educator Vernon H. Coleman and Ruby E. Coleman. He began his broadcast career in 1943, a year before he graduated from Barnstable High School, at Cape Cod’s only radio station, WOCB in West Yarmouth. Continue Reading

MPT hires new v.p., Sill to be KPCC’s executive editor, three Illinois pubcasters retire, and more…

Rick Lore is Maryland Public Television’s new v.p. and chief development officer
Lore is responsible for membership, on-air fundraising, major and planned giving, publications, outreach and community engagement at the state network headquartered in Owings Mills. Lore joined MPT on an interim basis last fall after Joe Krushinsky left his job as v.p. of institutional advancement. Krushinsky now directs station development services at PBS. Previously Lore served as executive director of Friends of Milwaukee Public Television, the fundraising affiliate of Milwaukee Public TV; directed  on-air fundraising for PBS; and led development at New Hampshire Public Television. Lore, who began his pubTV career in 1989 in San Jose, Calif., has won eight PBS development awards and is a frequent conference speaker. Continue Reading

Photo illustration of the Abbey and its inhabitants illuminated by the fiery light of battle

Unusual rights delay: hint of budget strife?

PBS’s ongoing negotiations to curb per-hour costs of producing programs and to assert more control over content are increasing friction with its largest producer, Boston’s powerhouse WGBH, according to sources at other stations with knowledge of the situation.

For a period until just four days before the second-season premiere of the gem of this season’s PBS schedule, Downton Abbey from Masterpiece Classic, the approval of PBS broadcast rights for the series hung in the balance as WGBH protested the network’s contract demands.... Continue Reading

Bellantoni: from Talking Points to CQ to NewsHour

NewsHour picks up Bellantoni, WBEZ personnel changes, and more…

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. Continue Reading

APM chief McTaggart, seen as competitor, leaves NPR Board

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. Continue Reading

Anglophiles may now swoon (again)

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. Continue Reading

Streamy Awards for 2009

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. Continue Reading