PBS recruiting new development chief

PBS is in “the final stages” of hiring a new executive to improve public TV fundraising efforts at both the local and national levels, President Paula Kerger announced during the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour in Pasadena, Calif., Monday.

Hoppe brings ‘outward focus’ to new role as PBS’s chief programmer

PASADENA, Calif. — The special package of primetime shows about gun violence that PBS unveiled to television critics Monday offers an example of how Beth Hoppe intends to operate as the network’s new chief programmer. Hoppe had been promoted to chief program executive and g.m. only three days before the Dec. 14 shooting in Connecticut claimed the lives of 26 students and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School. As news of the tragedy unfolded, Hoppe was on the phone with producers, “trying to figure out what the appropriate PBS response was,” she told Current.

Newtown followups, unique documentary on Stephen Hawking coming from PBS

PBS unveiled upcoming feature programming today at the annual Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour in Pasadena, Calif. Highlights include a week of special programming examining the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Ct. PBS NewsHour, Frontline, Nova, Need to Know and Washington Week with Gwen Ifill each will focus on different aspects of the tragedy; new offerings from P.O.V. and Independent Lens such as director Michael Apted’s 56 Up; the first autobiographical documentary on famed physicist Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Mine; a six-part series, Latino Americans, narrated by actor Benjamin Bratt; and, for fans of British dramas, The Bletchley Circle, a three-part murder mystery, and How Sherlock Changed the World, a two-hour examination of the popular detective character. PBS’s sessions at the TCA Press Tour conclude tomorrow.

PBS chief endorses ouster of Market Warriors host Fred Willard

LOS ANGELES — It’s unlikely that PBS will reinstate Fred Willard as announcer of Market Warriors, its new antiquing reality show, if Los Angeles prosecutors decline to press charges for his July 17 arrest for lewd conduct in a Los Angeles adult theater. The comedic actor, whose role on the show was limited to voiceover announcing, was fired July 19 after news of his arrest went viral. Producers at WGBH tapped Antiques Roadshow’s Mark Walberg to replace him and to re-voice the episodes Willard had already completed. In Market Warriors, which premiered last week, antique-savvy buyers compete to buy and resell collectibles, and earn the highest returns at auction. Because Willard did not appear on screen, no scenes had to be reshot, PBS President Paula Kerger said during her July 21 executive session with the Television Critics Association.