BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — They don’t make the front page, but the comments and observations of panelists during PBS’s portion of the Television Critics Association press tour are often surprising and revealing. PBS’s two-day segment, which concluded here Wednesday night, included a rare confession from Henry Louis Gates Jr. and a takedown of Jenny McCarthy, whose opposition to vaccines has made her the bane of public-health officials. Here are some highlights. “Kind of a fib”
Gates, executive producer and host of Finding Your Roots 2, says celebrities rarely turn him down when he asks them to join him on a televised exploration of their ancestries.
SAN FRANCISCO – Amid previews of upcoming programming at the PBS Annual Meeting, including a groundbreaking 14-hour series on the Roosevelt family from Ken Burns, came extraordinary news of a record-setting donation for Masterpiece. Executive Producer Rebecca Eaton told attendees that the icon strand, through its Masterpiece Trust, will receive $3 million from longtime supporter Darlene Shiley on behalf of herself and her late husband Donald. Shiley’s local station, KPBS in San Diego, will share a portion of the contribution. The gift triples Shiley’s previously unprecedented $1 million donation in 2012. Since its inception in 2011, the trust has raised nearly $10 million for Masterpiece and local stations designated by donors.
• The U.S. Supreme Court has set a date for ABC TV v. Aereo, a challenge to the startup service that allows subscribers to watch TV programs over the Internet via miniature antennae. Oral arguments are scheduled for April 21. Though ABC brought the lawsuit, filed in New York and Boston, PBS and New York’s WNET are also among the parties claiming Aereo violates copyright law. • Ken Burns participated in his first Reddit Ask Me Anything session Tuesday as part of the promotion for his new app. He laid out the planned release schedule for his next decade of films: The Roosevelts in September, A History of Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies and Jackie Robinson in 2015, Vietnam in 2016, Country Music in 2018 and Ernest Hemingway in 2019.
More than five months after subpoenaing notes and outtakes from The Central Park Five, a crime documentary about the 1989 arrest and conviction of five innocent young men over the rape and assault of a jogger in Central Park, lawyers for New York City were rebuffed in their attempts to gain hold of the film’s unused footage for evidence in an ongoing federal lawsuit. The decision came on the evening of Feb. 19, as reported by the New York Times. Co-directed by Ken Burns, his daughter Sarah and longtime Burns producer David McMahon, based on extensive research from Sarah, the film was released in theaters in fall 2012 to critical acclaim and will air on PBS in April. The city had accused the filmmakers of biased reporting when it filed the Sept.
PBS documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, whose extensive credits include The Civil War, Baseball and the upcoming The Dust Bowl, authored an editorial in Tuesday’s USA Today in which he said that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney “knows the price of things, but he clearly doesn’t know their value.” Romney has attracted the ire of the pubcasting community for frequently stating throughout his campaign that he would cut funding to CPB, and he reiterated his intent to do so during last week’s presidential debate. Burns recalled filming The Civil War in the late 1980s, during which time he visited then-President Ronald Reagan in the White House. At the time, according to Burns, Reagan expressed his support and admiration for both the National Endowment for the Humanities and CPB, two government-funded entities that backed the film. “Reagan put both hands on my shoulder and said, ‘That’s it!
Advocacy groups protesting Ken Burns’ upcoming World War II doc asked PBS and WETA in Washington, D.C., Aug. 20  for assurance that the producers would work harder to include Latinos in “current and future programming. The statement about Burns’ The War bore the signatures of 53 individuals, ten media, policy and educational organizations and Defend the Honor, the coalition that first challenged Burns. In a response, PBS said it “continues to build upon our track record of inclusion in programming, in front of and behind the camera.” WETA has issued no response. The full statements from Defend the Honor and PBS are below.