The All-Star Orchestra, made up of top professional musicians from across the country, will produce eight pubTV programs of classical masterworks. The one-hour shows, titled All-Star Orchestra and set for broadcast on New York’s WNET over eight Sundays this fall, will feature performances of classics by American composers as well as guest interviews and commentary by the group’s Music Director Gerard Schwarz. American Public Television will distribute the programs nationally. In last month’s announcement, WNET programming exec Stephen Segaller said the project is “in the tradition of Leonard Bernstein’s celebrated programs that popularized classical music on television,” such as the critically acclaimed Omnibus, 1952–61, and Young People’s Concerts, which Bernstein led from 1958–72, the first series televised from Lincoln Center. The All-Star Orchestra’s performances were filmed in HD with 19 cameras last August at New York’s historic Grand Ballroom at Manhattan Center.
The National Endowment of the Arts announced $4.68 million in funding to 76 media-arts projects April 23, including new grantees such as the Online Video Engagement Experience (OVEE) developed with CPB funding, a new initiative from the Association of Independents in Radio called Spectrum America and Sonic Trace, a multimedia production at KCRW in Santa Monica, Calif., that was created through AIR’s recently concluded Localore project. For a second year, the NEA will continue to support projects that use digital technologies to go beyond traditional broadcasting platforms. In its announcement, the endowment highlighted a $100,000 grant to OVEE, a digital platform that allows web users to interact while watching PBS and local station content. The Independent Television Service developed the technology with support from CPB. AIR also received $100,000 for Spectrum America, a project that will pair media artists with public stations as they experiment with “new approaches to storytelling.”
Sonic Trace, a co-production at KCRW initiated through AIR’s 2012–2013 Localore initiative, received a direct NEA grant of $75,000 to continue exploring the experience of Latino immigrants. NEA also backed digital media projects at NPR, providing $100,000 for music programming and multimedia content.
The mass shootings last year in Colorado, Wisconsin and Connecticut reawakened Americans to recurring tragedies of gun violence and rekindled a national debate about gun control — one that public radio and television have chronicled and analyzed through ongoing programs and the package of special broadcasts that aired on PBS last month.
TED, the nonprofit behind the high-profile conferences about ideas in technology, entertainment and design (as well as NPR’s new weekend series), and WNET will co-produce TED’s first original television show this spring. TED Talks Education will tape before a live audience Thursday at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The New York City station is partnering with PBS and CPB for the hourlong program of short talks by education advocates on the theme of teaching and learning. TED Talks Education will air nationally May 7 on PBS as part of CPB’s American Graduate high-school dropout initiative. Musician John Legend will host.
The author of The Catcher in the Rye and Franny and Zooey died in January 2010 after living for more than 50 years as a recluse in Cornish, N.H. Shortly after news of his death emerged, Hollywood screenwriter Shane Salerno announced he had been covertly working on Salinger, an independent documentary probing the author’s sheltered existence. Susan Lacy, American Masters executive producer, learned of Salerno’s film while attempting to procure the rights to an unrelated Salinger biography for the program. Salerno — whose screenplay credits include Alien vs. Predator: Requiem and Oliver Stone’s Savages — agreed to produce his film for American Masters after Lacy contacted him. Salerno is a fan of American Masters and says he taught himself the craft of documentary filmmaking by watching the biography series.
The St. Louis public TV station's Nine Academy, a program that trains individuals and community organizations to produce short videos on stories of “community impact,” received special recognition among the awards presented during NETA’s recent conference in St. Louis. In honoring the academy as the top winner in its annual awards program, NETA cited the station for groundbreaking community work. NETA recognized 20 public TV stations in 30 categories spread across four divisions — community engagement, content production, instructional media and promotion.
When the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Massachusetts announced a settlement with Boston’s WGBH over its handling of $60 million in federal grant funds, it was the second time in two years that a major producing station had come under scrutiny by auditors for its handling of grant monies for public TV productions.