Last Days lands Oscar nom; CPI, ProPublica recognized for data projects

Last Days in Vietnam scored PBS’s American Experience its ninth Academy Award nomination. Rory Kennedy produced and directed the film for AmEx, a documentary series that has run since 1995. CPB provided support for the film. Last Days in Vietnam was nominated in the Best Documentary category, marking Kennedy’s first nomination. “When we conceived of this film three years ago, we knew it was a powerful story of individual acts of courage set against a background of chaos,” said American Experience Executive Producer Mark Samels on the show’s blog.

Sherlock, Downton Abbey lead PBS to eight wins in Creative Arts Emmys

Sherlock: His Last Vow won four of the eight Creative Arts Emmys awarded to PBS programs by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences during the Aug. 17 Primetime Emmy gala celebrating technical achievement. Sherlock, a BBC production that aired on WGBH’s Masterpiece, picked up its four wins in the miniseries or movie categories. Editor Yan Miles won for outstanding single-camera picture editing for a miniseries or movie, and Director of Photography Neville Kidd won the Emmy for cinematography in a miniseries or movie. The detective drama also won awards for sound editing, with statuettes given to supervising sound editor Doug Sinclair; sound editors Stuart McCowan, Jon Joyce and Paul McFadden; Foley editor William Everett; and Foley artist Sue Harding.

NEH awards $2 million to pubmedia projects

Seven public media projects got a boost July 21 with the announcement of grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, which included almost $2 million for pubcasters. The largest grants, each for $600,000, will support documentaries from WGBH in Boston and Firelight Media in New York. WGBH will use the grant for a two-hour American Experience episode, “Into the Amazon: The Roosevelt-Rondon Scientific Expedition.” The documentary, produced by American Experience Executive Producer Mark Samels, covers a 1913 expedition to an unmapped territory of the Amazon led by Theodore Roosevelt and Brazilian colonel Candido Rondon. Firelight Media, whose documentaries frequently air on PBS, will use the grant to fund Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Firelight founder and filmmaker Stanley Nelson is leading the project to produce the two-hour documentary.

Film revisits Freedom Summer for a new generation

Freedom Summer, a documentary directed by Stanley Nelson, recounts the turbulent 10-week period, focusing on efforts by the Council of Federated Organizations and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party to enfranchise the segregated state’s black population.

StoryCorps’ multiplatform production on the anniversary of 9/11 earned a prize for public radio and TV.

The Peabody-winning segment aired on NPR’s Morning Edition and featured interviews that had been adapted as animated shorts for PBS’s POV. The award, one of nine presented for pubcasting programs this year, recognized the oral history project’s treatment of interviews with the relatives of 9/11 victims in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the 2001 attacks on New York’s World Trade Center. NPR received two additional trophies for its radio reporting. Judges cited “Arab Spring from Egypt to Libya” by foreign correspondent Lourdes Garcia-Navarro for “exemplary coverage throughout the Middle East,” and “Native Foster Care: Lost Children, Shattered Families,” a three-part NPR News Investigation by Laura Sullivan and Amy Walters. POV received another Peabody for “My Perestroika,”a doc following five young Russians over several years after the collapse of communism.

Hull pursues personal history, 72 years ago in Rapid City

Now that he’s retiring, Ron Hull has time to find out who he is. Not that he or anyone else in public TV is uncertain on that point. Hull is one of the field’s most prominent advocates for good programs and a memorable character who flips his tie over his shoulder when he gets excited, which is often. He worked most of 47 years at the University of Nebraska’s public TV network, leaving periodically and coming back again to its program side, which he tended while Jack McBride built the transmitters, the relationships and an array of ambitious projects based in Lincoln. Hull is retiring from half-time work at the university this month, but his to-do list is full: dedicating a study center for Nebraska author Mari Sandoz at Chadron State College, raising a million bucks for the Lewis & Clark Bicentennial Commission celebration in 2004, and tracking down who his parents were.

American Experience: where we’ve come from

On a warm summer day in 1946 I find myself, somewhat improbably, at the helm of a U.S. Navy ocean tug, threading through a crowded, palm-fringed Pacific atoll called Bikini. We stay only long enough to anchor the derelict ship we’ve towed here from the Philippines. Several days later, making slow progress east to Honolulu, we learn that the wreck we had pulled into that pristine island sanctuary had been obliterated — along with everything else in the lagoon — by two atomic bombs. More than a few of my shipmates are bitter that, unlike others, they had been denied an extremely close look at the destruction. But for most of us it is simply an isolated event, one among many in those rather bewildering post-war days following the bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.