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.

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.

Fanning on a ‘big bang’ moment for Frontline: bringing online depth to reporting

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’s Loper Lecture, 2009

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.

Forum Network: Low-profile lecture outlet gets national backing

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.

Masterpiece to be umbrella for 3 strands

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.

Buster to visit gay moms on some pubTV channels

At least five public TV stations have pledged to air a controversial episode of Postcards from Buster, dropped last week by PBS, that features two families headed by lesbian parents—despite strenuous objections by the nation's new secretary of education, whose department provides significant funding for the series. About 20 other stations were considering running the show last week after viewing a preview tape that producer WGBH beamed by satellite to member stations on Thursday, said station spokeswoman Jeanne Hopkins. The controversy over the cartoon bunny comes at an awkward time for PBS, as it prepares to compete for renewed Ready to Learn funding from the Education Department. The agency has said it will divide a $24 million pot among as many as four grantees for five-year programming and outreach contracts (earlier story). In the 10-year existence of the RTL program, CPB or PBS has administered the grants.

Secretary of Education objects to Postcards from Buster ‘two moms’ episode, 2005

Margaret Spellings, secretary of education in George W. Bush's administration, complained to PBS in 2005 about an episode of the animated Postcards from Buster children's series with funding from her department. In the episode, Buster visits a Vermont family that has two moms. See also Current story. January 25, 2005
Ms. Pat Mitchell
President and Chief Executive Officer
Public Broadcasting Service
1320 Braddock Place
Alexandria, Virginia 22314

Dear Ms. Mitchell:

The Department of Education has strong and very serious concerns about a specific Ready-To-Learn television episode, yet to be aired, that has been developed under a cooperative agreement between the Department and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). The episode -- “Sugartime!” -- is part of the “Postcards from Buster” series, and would feature throughout the show families headed by gay couples. As you know, the cooperative agreement that PBS is using to support these programs is designed to prepare preschool and elementary age children for school.

PBS again taps viewer curiosity about old things

A spin-off of Antiques Roadshow, PBS’s most popular series, will visit memorable guests from past installments and guide viewers through the ins and outs of the antiques market. Antiques Roadshow FYI debuts early in 2005 as a half-hour weekly magazine program. PBS will pair it with another new half-hour series to be announced next month. PBS announced the new Roadshow series July 8 [2004] during the Television Critics Association summer press tour. The network also announced a three-part history series, Guns, Germs and Steel, to be made with Lion Television and National Geographic Television.