PBS – once considered mostly a cozy place for classical music, British dramas and French cooking – is broadening its scope.
Paula Kerger, the network CEO, has announced projects for this fall, ranging from Harriet Tubman to Chuck D (shown here) and hip hop history. She also announced long-range efforts that, she said, “will elevate new voices … and amplify diverse perspectives.”
Those create spots for filmmakers early in their careers and, she said, put millions into an effort to “support mid-career, diverse non-fiction filmmakers.”
But there are also more-immediate projects. Among Black filmmakers, this fall will include:
– “The Story of Hip Hop,” a four-parter co-created by Chuck D, the Public Enemy co-founder.
– “Making Black America: Through the Grapevine.” Henry Lewis Gates, a PBS regular, will look at the social organizations that were created in the face of segregation.
– Two films by Stanley Nelson, another PBS regular, viewing Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass.
Before that, a new film in May will look at the rise of Asian-American voices, after eight people (including six women of Asian descent) were killed at spas in Atlanta.
And next month, PBS will have its usual Black History Month emphasis. February will include profiles of Marian Anderson and Fannie Lou Hamer … an “American Reckoning” look at the civil-rights era … and a look at three prominent Black diplomats.
Kerger was talking to reporters at the start of PBS’ three days of Television Critics Association sessions. Those sessions also offer diversity, looking at Asian-American high school students … a “Muslim road trip” … American Indians’ development of appaloosa horses … music star Lionel Richie (the new winner of the Gershwin Award) … and the Metopolitan Opera’s season-opener, its first show from a Black composer.