Hugh Laurie: Let Them Talk Preview

September 29th, 2011

Photo courtesy of Michael Wilson

Versatile British actor Hugh Laurie showcases his musical talents and his love of blues on Great Performances in Hugh Laurie: Let Them Talk, a personal odyssey for Laurie and a journey into the heart of New Orleans and its rich musical tradition.

The show features intimate performances and rehearsals with blues legends Allen Toussaint and Irma Thomas, along with fellow Brit, iconic singer Sir Tom Jones. Songs performed include “Swanee River,” “You Don’t Know My Mind,” and “John Henry.”

Hugh Laurie: Let Them Talk airs Friday, September 30 at 9 p.m. on THIRTEEN.

Watch a preview:

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Hugh Laurie discusses his love of the blues and New Orleans in a behind-the-scenes interview:

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Pedro Ruiz: Coming Home Preview

September 27th, 2011

Cuban American choreographer Pedro Ruiz (Photo courtesy of Alex Lowther)

In Pedro Ruiz: Coming Home, acclaimed choreographer Pedro Ruiz returns to his native Cuba for a collaboration with Cuba’s premiere modern dance troupe, Danza Contemporanea de Cuba, to create a dance about Cuba, after receiving special permission from both the U.S. and Cuban governments.

As much a personal journey as a professional one, Ruiz visits his hometown, Santa Clara, for the first time in 30 years, and is reunited with his godfather and his childhood best friend. Likewise, when the dancers come to New York City for their first-ever trip to the United States, they express their feelings about a country most thought they would never have the chance to see.

The program is part of Cantos Latinos, THIRTEEN’s special Hispanic Heritage Month programming block dedicated to the contributions and unique stories of Latinos.

Pedro Ruiz: Coming Home premieres Thursday, September 29 at 8 p.m. on THIRTEEN.

Watch a preview:

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Go behind the scenes of Pedro Ruiz: Coming Home in an interview with director Julie Cohen.

From the stage to the street, watch dance excerpts from the film.

Masterpiece Wins Six Primetime Emmy Awards

September 21st, 2011

This year, Masterpiece took home six Primetime Emmy Awards for Downton Abbey, including Outstanding Miniseries or Movie.

Check out the full list of awards:

Outstanding Miniseries or Movie
Downton Abbey (A co-production of Carnival and Masterpiece)

Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special
Julian Fellowes

Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special
Brian Percival

Oustanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
Maggie Smith as Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham

Outstanding Cinematography for a Miniseries or Movie
David Katznelson, DFF, Director of Photography

Outstanding Costumes for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special
Susannah Buxton, Costume Designer

The series was just granted another honor: Guiness World Records has awarded Downton Abbey for having the “highest critical ratings for a TV show,” making it the most critically well-received show in the world!

Downton Abbey returns to Masterpiece on January 8, 2012. Check out the series’ new site for behind-the-scenes features, cast Q&A’s, and more.

Watch a preview of Downton Abbey Series II:

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Mexico: The Royal Tour – A Q&A with Host Peter Greenberg

September 21st, 2011

President Felipe Calderon of Mexico with Peter Greenberg (Photo courtesy of Robert Landau)

Inside Thirteen spoke with travel journalist Peter Greenberg, who recently received a personal tour of Mexico by President Felipe Calderón for Mexico: The Royal Tour. From Chihuahua to Cozumel, Greenberg and Calderón cross the country to explore Mexico’s historical treasures, and even venture into Calderón’s hometown.

Here, Greenberg discusses his visit and what he learned from his experience in Mexico.

Mexico: The Royal Tour airs Thursday, September 22 at 8 p.m. on THIRTEEN.

Mr. Greenberg answered our questions via email.

Inside Thirteen: Was there anything you were surprised to learn about Mexico from your visit?

Peter Greenberg: Most people mistakenly think of Mexico as either a dusty border town with people wearing sombreros and drinking tequila, or a high-rise resort destination. I’ve been traveling to Mexico since I was 23 and a correspondent for Newsweek, and thought I’d seen most of the country. Mexico: The Royal Tour certainly showed me how much I didn’t know, and how much I hadn’t yet experienced. It allowed me — and hopefully will allow our viewers — to see a Mexico they didn’t know.

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IT: Which location impressed you most on your tour?

PG: That’s a  tough one to answer. I was blown away by Palenque, I was seduced by Oaxaca, and then there was the Cave of the Swallows. What impressed me with that experience — where I repelled 110 stories off that cliff and into the cave with the President, was that we both survived!

IT: Were there any  places in Mexico that you wanted to visit but were not able to for the show?

PG: None. We were granted an all access pass.

IT: What was it like traveling with President Calderón and visiting  his hometown?

President Calderon with his family and Peter Greenberg riding horses on a tequila plantation (Photo courtesy of Robert Landau)

PG: I’ve also had the opportunity of traveling with U.S. presidents on Air Force One…there’s no waiting on the runway, and we’re always on time! But on this trip, we traveled with the president by  horseback, jeep, train, teleferico (gondola), boat, we ziplined, we dove, and yes, we repelled…the only thing we did on the presidential jet –  after shooting 16 to 20 hour days – is sleep on the way back to Mexico City!  But visiting his hometown, and especially his family, was very special. I got to meet his brothers and sisters, and also his  mother.

IT: After your visit and your time with President  Calderón, is there anything you think the U.S. can learn from Mexico?

PG: Mexico, like so many countries, firmly understands the importance of travel and tourism to build bridges of understanding. Also, its strength as  a huge economic engine. It is somewhat embarrassing that the U.S. government has never fully understood the economic power and social necessity of travel and tourism.

Different is the New Normal: A Q&A with Ariel and Robin Small

September 13th, 2011

Robin Small, American Idol's James Durbin, and Ariel Small (Photo courtesy of John Block)

Different is the New Normal takes a closer look at Tourette Syndrome through the lens of Ariel Small, a teenage boy who grew up with Tourette’s. Small overcomes the difficulties of his condition and inspires others to do the same by raising awareness about Tourette Syndrome as a Youth Ambassador. Here, Ariel and his mother, Robin Small, discuss the film, the future, and embracing differences in order to succeed.

Different is the New Normal airs Thursday, September 15 at 8 p.m. on THIRTEEN.

Inside Thirteen: Robin, when did you first notice that something was different about Ariel?

Robin Small: Ariel’s Tourette’s started to show itself when he was six.  His first symptoms were facial ticking, blinking, twitching, rolling his eyes and sticking out his tongue.

Different is the New Normal (2011) – Trailer from Hourglass Films on Vimeo.

IT: Are there resources that children with Tourette’s and their parents can turn to that you would recommend?

RS: I would recommend reaching out to every resource available… your local Tourette Syndrome Association chapter, support groups, internet, neurologist, tap into the school’s social worker.  Educate yourself.  Focus on an activity your child likes… sports, music, art.  Focusing on something your child enjoys can release a lot of the built up frustration and tension and help with the ticking.

IT: Ariel, Is there anything you’ve learned about yourself from your experience of growing up with Tourette Syndrome?

Ariel Small: I’ve learned that there really is no limit to what we are capable of. That is, we can use the obstacles we face as a way to strengthen our resolve to reach our true potential.  My Tourettes has simply been a hurdle in my life, and I am sure there will be many more to come.  I have to continue to jump over these hurdles time and again.  I have also learned to have more empathy and insight into other people and what they might be struggling with or going through.

IT: What inspired you to become a Youth Ambassador for Tourette’s?

Photo courtesy of Robin Small

AS: Middle school was a very rough period for me.  I felt as if my disorder was very misunderstood by my teachers and classmates.  I realized that the best thing I could do for myself was to be my own best advocate and educate others.  Education is truly the answer to reducing or eliminating misconception and ignorance.  By speaking to other schools I can help to reduce or eliminate ignorance at a young age and help raise awareness so that no one else will have to go through the same things that I did.

IT: What was it like getting to interview James Durbin from American Idol for the documentary?

AS: Interviewing James Durbin was a dream come true.  I was literally star truck when I met him.  He had such a presence and was so open, honest and genuine.  I felt a connection and was extremely inspired by his courage and perseverance.

IT: What are your plans for the future?

AS: As of right now, my goals are to win conference for football and go far in the playoffs.  I hope to get into the college of my choice.  I plan on majoring in Engineering and hope to join the U.S. Marine Corps to serve my country.

IT: What message do you hope people will take from the film, and are there any misconceptions that you hope the film will clear up?

RS & AS: We hope that this documentary changes people’s perceptions of Tourette Syndrome and will inspire children who are struggling with it.  It is extremely important to separate the person from the disorder.  We are all different and it is these differences that make us unique.  Understanding and empathy are qualities of a successful perspective that will help individuals succeed in life.

Bryant Park Fall Festival 2011

September 12th, 2011

The Bryant Park Corporation has announced the fourth annual Bryant Park Fall Festival presented by Bank of America, which will be held from September 16-23 in Bryant Park. WNET again joins the Festival as a media partner.

The Festival will feature evening performances by Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber, China Institute in America, Ballet Hispanico, the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, Jazzmobile, Elisa Monte Dance, Jennifer Muller/The Works, RIOULT, and daytime programs from City Winery, operamission, the Rubin Museum of Art, PuppetMobile, and Vital Theatre Company.

Families can look forward to a new addition to the Festival line-up: pre-performance interactive programs presented by Kids Club Thirteen on September 20, 22, and 23, along with lunchtime presentations on 9/17 and 18 (see schedule below for details).  The performing arts come to life with workshops, hands-on activities, favorites from PBS kids shows, and more.

Fans of THIRTEEN on Facebook are able to enter to win VIP treatment on all eight nights of the Festival. Benefits include: priority reserved table seating for two (in front of general seating), light snacks from ‘wichcraft, two drink tickets compliments of City Winery and more.

Check out the full event schedule:

Friday, September 16

12:30 pm: City Winery

Red Poetry: wine and poetry collide in City Winery’s latest limited edition wines.  Grape-inspired poetry gets a rhythmic beat with live music and readings by the Bowery Poetry Club.

6 p.m.: Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber

Greg Tate, Vernon Reid, Melvin Van Peebles, and Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber rock the James Brown, Bowie, Van Peebles, Miles, and Sugar Songbooks. Presented by the Black Rock Coalition.

Saturday, September 17

1:00 pm: Kids Club Thirteen presents the PuppetMobile

Master puppeteers tell the story of Bessie the Cow’s dream to join the circus.  Don’t miss the pre-show workshop at noon.

6:00 pm: China Institute in America

The Shanghai Restoration Project and Le Zhang.  Classical Chinese music meets jazz, hip hop, and electronica.

Sunday, September 18

1:00 pm:  Kids Club Thirteen presents Vital Theatre Company

Sing along to a medley of favorites from Pinkalicious, The Musical and Uncle Pirate.  Celebrate all things pink and meet Pinkalicious herself.

6:00 pm: Ballet Hispanico

Theatrical and passionate works from the nation’s premier Latino dance company.

Monday, September 19

12:30 pm:  operamission

Figaro al fresco: a comic cliffhanger.  Acts I & II of Mozart’s opera Le Nozze di Figaro in a fresh and vibrant new staging.

6:00 pm: Jennifer Muller/The Works

Electrifying and virtuosic movement by the world-renowned contemporary dance company.

Tuesday, September 20

5:00 pm: Kids Club Thirteen Pre-Performance Workshop

6:00 pm: The Metropolitan Opera’s  Lindemann Young Artist Development Program Opera’s rising stars perform a selection of favorite arias, songs, and duets.

Wednesday, September 21

12:30 pm: Rubin Museum of Art

Famed opera and theater director Peter Sellars and the dramatization of the irreverent and profound Vimalakirti Sutra.

6:00 pm: Jazzmobile

Seasoned drummer and vibrant band leader Winard Harper leads a superb septet in a non-stop set of Jazz and African rhythms.

Thursday, September 22

5:00 pm: Kids Club Thirteen Pre-Performance Workshop

6:00 pm: Elisa Monte Dance

Ferociously exciting modern dance company – a performing tour-de-force.

Friday, September 23

5:00 pm: Kids Club Thirteen Pre-Performance Workshop

6:00 pm: RIOULT

Musically astute, visually arresting, kinetically thrilling modern dance.

**Additional support for the Bryant Park Fall Festival is provided by the Durst Organization Inc. and HBO, and by media partners WNET New York Public Media, WNYC, and amNEWYORK.

WNET Wins Five Emmy Awards

September 12th, 2011

This Saturday night, WNET took home five Primetime Emmy Awards: two for Great Performances, two for American Masters, and one for Great Performances at the Met (see categories below).

This marks the 8th time that American Masters has won the Emmy for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series in 11 years.

Congratulations to all of our winners!

OUTSTANDING MUSIC DIRECTION
Harry Connick Jr., In Concert On Broadway (Great Performances)

Harry Connick Jr., Music Director

OUTSTANDING MUSIC COMPOSITION FOR A SERIES (ORIGINAL DRAMATIC SCORE)
American Masters
John Muir In The New World

Garth Neustadter, Music by

OUTSTANDING TECHNICAL DIRECTION, CAMERAWORK, VIDEO CONTROL FOR A MINISERIES, MOVIE OR A SPECIAL
Don Pasquale (Great Performances At The Met)

Emmett Loughran, Technical Director
Miguel Armstrong, Camera
Joseph Debonis, Camera
Manny Gutierrez, Camera
Shaun Harkins, Camera
John Kosmaczewski, Camera
Bob Long, Camera
Jay Millard, Camera
Alain Onesto, Camera
David Smith, Camera
Larry Solomon, Camera
Ron Washburn, Camera
Mark Whitman, Camera
Anthony DeFonzo, Video Control
Matty Randazzo, Video Control
Paul Ranieri, Video Control

OUTSTANDING NONFICTION SERIES (Area Award: Possibility of more than one award.)
American Masters

Susan Lacy, Executive Producer
Stanley Buchthal, Executive Producer
Michael Cohl, Executive Producer
Prudence Glass, Series Producer
Julie Sacks, Supervising Producer
Michael Epstein, Producer
Jessica Levin, Producer

OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A VARIETY, MUSIC OR COMEDY SPECIAL
Sondheim! The Birthday Concert (Great Performances)

Lonny Price, Directed by

President Emeritus Bill Baker Discusses 9/11 at WNET

September 9th, 2011

Bill Baker, President Emeritus of WNET, reflects on his experience of 9/11 while working at the station.

He recalls the installation of WNET‘s first digital transmitter on Tower One of the World Trade Center in July 2001, and how just two months later, engineer Rod Coppola, tasked with maintaining the transmitter, lost his life on the day our nation, our city, and our company were changed forever.

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'We Are the Knights': A Q&A with Eric and Colin Jacobsen

September 8th, 2011

Colin and Eric Jacobsen perform with The Knights (Photo courtesy of The Knights)

Inside Thirteen recently spoke with Eric and Colin Jacobsen, founders of the New York-based orchestra, The Knights, featured in THIRTEEN‘s documentary, We Are the Knights.

Consisting of a group of friends from Julliard, The Knights collaborate on traditional and original music, and are known for their vibrant and eclectic performances. Here, the Jacobsens discuss what inspired them to start the group, and their unique approach to playing in an ensemble.

We Are the Knights airs Thursday, September 8 at 8:30 p.m. on THIRTEEN.

Inside Thirteen: What inspired you to start The Knights?

Eric Jacobsen: When we started The Knights, we didn’t set out with the goal to form an orchestra. Actually, what we set off of with was having fun with friends and colleagues – people that we loved playing music with. We started sort of as a garage band starts; we’d get together after school and loved playing together, and out of that grew a group of people that found a style, a love for music, and that morphed into wanting to play concerts together. From that grew The Knights.

Colin Jacobsen: As Eric said, friendship and shared musical values. Trying to reclaim a lot of the music that we’d grown up studying in school, but at some point you want to find your own way with it, you want to seek it out with friends who share similar ideas. So, for us it was about exploration of a lot of the inherited tradition that we had, but also making music new and fresh.

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IT: How did your musical upbringing influence your decision to work in music as adults?

CJ: In a way it was a very natural thing, we had two musician parents who had very social musical lives outside of their work – our dad played in the Metropolitan Opera, and our mom taught flute, but they would invite friends over on weekends sometimes and have music reading sessions. When we were very young, we were allowed to stay up late and listen to them. I think we both loved the music and saw that they had a good time doing what they did – it seemed like a good lifestyle.

IT: How do you think classical musicians have changed over the years – are contemporary musicians more versatile than in the past?

CJ: I think so, for sure. In our parents’ generation, a life in music was more rigidly defined – you were either a soloist, or an orchestra musician. There were a few quartets. Thanks to the explosion of chamber music in America, there are a lot more chamber musicians, and a lot more people float fluidly between those three things and even beyond that. We also see a lot of people in the classical world who are performer/composers who are writing and arranging their own music. There’s also the bigger picture industry thing – even in the pop world, the recording industry has changed so much. In some ways, it’s harder to make a life in music, but in another sense, there’s more fluidity and more possibility of creating your own thing if you care deeply about it.

IT: How do you choose your repertoire? What attracts you to music for The Knights?

The Knights (Photo courtesy of Keith Lew)

CJ: We have a programming committee, with people who have brilliant ideas. It depends on the project that we’re doing – sometimes we’re asked to do a particular piece from the outside, whether it’s a Beethoven symphony or whatever, but we try to contextualize it. If it’s an old piece of music, we try to find relevant connections to music from our time. Sometimes it’s venue-driven, if we’re playing in a particular place, sometimes a particular kind of programming suggests itself. I think the projects we’ve had the most fun with and that have been the most fulfilling for us as a group are when we’ve been able to sink our teeth into a big, older piece like a Beethoven symphony or a Schubert symphony, but to also do something from our time or by one of the Knights. This spring, we played Beethoven 5 along with the world premiere by Lisa Bielawa, and we’ve recorded Schubert’s symphony along with Morton Feldman and Philip Glass. Whenever you play together, it informs the other thing that you’re doing, so it’s always connected.

IT: In the film, Colin says: “You have to play without ambition” – what do you mean by that approach?

CJ: I think in terms of any ensemble, it’s really finding out what your role is and giving yourself fully over to that and not speaking to music in terms of your perspective, but really trying to grasp as much of the whole as possible and to find your role in it. So, it’s not actually taking away your ambition to be great at what your doing, it’s sort of channeling your energy.

EJ: There’s something about actually contributing to other people’s abilities – yes, looking out for yourself, but being able to foster good feelings with other people while you’re playing so that they also perform to their highest level.

IT: What has it been like collaborating with Yo-Yo Ma?

EJ: For many of the people in the group, their relationship with Yo-Yo goes way back a number of years in the context of the Silk Road Ensemble. There was trust already there, and I hope and I think he did have a great time playing with The Knights because we were like a school of fish, we turn on a dime with him as a soloist. I think as a soloist with an orchestra, you sort of feel like you’re tugging at a huge troika of horses. But I think we hopefully gave him a good feeling so that he felt free to do whatever he wanted in the moment.

IT: What’s next for The Knights?

CJ: This season, two big things that we’re really looking forward to are going back to Germany for a tour of about six or seven cities in March. After that tour, we’ll be doing our first full-fledged U.S. tour in 10 cities across the South, Midwest, and East Coast.

For us, playing one program five to ten times is really a great place to be, because we spend so much time rehearsing, to actually spend so much time onstage performing is really a pleasure. We learn much more on stage than we do in the rehearsal room, so it’s exponential how much we can grow from those performance experiences and touring around playing to different audiences and bringing what we hope is our message to those places.

EJ: Also, in early 2012 our Schubert album is going to be released, so we’re excited about that!

'9/11: First Responders' Preview

September 8th, 2011

For many people around the globe, America symbolizes a certain freedom — a land of choice. 9/11: First Responders is a tribute to the thousands who made a life or death choice.  A handful of those thousands recount their stories here, with admirable candor, humility and, sometimes, humor.  They are our neighbors, our colleagues, our friends and family, who came to the attacked twin towers on the morning of September 11, 2001 and chose to stay. These exceptional human beings challenge all of us to rise to a higher level of selflessness.  They truly embody the concept “home of the brave.”

On the tenth anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, we acknowledge the thousands from our city and our country who came to help.  Whether they pulled colleagues from the rubble, massaged the weary backs of the rescuers, or supported the spiritually broken, they continue to re-live these events in a way unique to those who witness history. One of the volunteers we see here puts it quite eloquently:  “The strength of this country is its people and its compassion.”

The women and men who made the choice to work at ground zero live with the emotional and physical scars of that choice each day. They offer us hope for future generations to work as a community.  It’s up to us to make sure they are not forgotten.

9/11: First Responders airs on THIRTEEN on September  11, 2011 at 11 p.m. and September  13, 2011 at 4:30 a.m. The documentary is a co-production of WLIW21 and is hosted by actress S. Epatha Merkerson.

Watch a preview:

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