What Do You Think? 9/11 Mastermind Trial in New York

November 16th, 2009

Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Friday, November 13th that the federal government would prosecute Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the “mastermind” of the September 11 attacks, in a Manhattan courtroom. The decision has ignited a flurry of controversy here in the city. Both former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Gov. David Paterson have come out against the Obama administration’s plan in the past few days. Guiliani objects to a civilian trial of Mohammed; at an event in East Harlem today, Paterson said that “having those terrorists tried so close to the attack is going to be an encumbrance on all New Yorkers.”

Video: American Masters — “Woody Guthrie: Ain’t Got No Home”

November 16th, 2009

“Woody Guthrie: Ain’t Got No Home” airs Wednesday, November 25 at 9pm

Essentially every American who has listened to the radio or gone to summer camp knows Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.” The music of the nation’s signature folk singer/songwriter has been recorded by everyone from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to the Irish rock band U2. Originally blowing out of the Dust Bowl in 1930s Depression-era America, he blended vernacular, rural music and populism to give voice to millions of downtrodden citizens. Guthrie’s prolific music, poetry and prose were politically leftist, uniquely patriotic and always inspirational. He joined music with traditional oral history and was central to the folk music revival. His is a complex story filled with frenetic creative energy and a treasure trove of cultural history – as well as personal imperfections and profound family tragedy.

Read a timeline of Woody Guthrie’s career and more at the American Masters website.

Watch a preview of “Woody Guthrie: Ain’t Got No Home” now:

Video: Preview FRONTLINE's "A Death in Tehran"

November 13th, 2009

“A Death in Tehran” premieres Tuesday, November 17 at 9pm on THIRTEEN

At the height of the protests following Iran’s controversial presidential election this summer, a young woman named Neda Agha Soltan was shot and killed on the streets of Tehran. Her death — filmed on a cameraphone, then uploaded to the web — quickly became an international outrage, and Agha Soltan became the face of a powerful movement that threatened the hard-line government’s hold on power. With the help of a unique network of correspondents in and out of the country, FRONTLINE investigates the life and death of the woman whose image remains a potent symbol for those who want to keep the reform movement alive. The film also explores a number of unanswered questions in the aftermath of the greatest upheaval in Iran since the 1979 revolution: How many were arrested and killed as the security forces attempted to contain the growing protest movement? To what extent was the presidential vote manipulated? What is the future of the movement that seems to have been silenced?

Watch a preview of “A Death in Tehran” now:

Q&A: "No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo & Vilmos" director James Chressanthis

November 13th, 2009

No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo & Vilmos tells the story of two Hungarian film students who escaped communist Hungary in 1956, with little more than a camera and a shopping bag full of film. Over the next 50 years, Laszlo Kovacs and Vilmos Zsigmond would reinvent Hollywood movies for an entire generation, shooting some of the most notable films in American cinematic history: The Deer Hunter; Close Encounters of the Third Kind; Deliverance; Paper Moon; Five Easy Pieces; What’s Up, Doc; New York, New York; Heaven’s Gate; Frances; and dozens more. The two also maintained an iron-clad friendship along the way.

No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo & Vilmos premieres on Independent Lens on Tuesday, November 17th at 9 p.m. Inside THIRTEEN spoke with the film’s director, James Chressanthis.

Q. Was it intimidating for you to film two men who practically defined a genre of American cinema?

A. Though I am an experienced cinematographer (2 Emmy® Nominations, Additional Photography on the Oscar-winning Chicago) it was a daunting task. I felt a great responsibility to get their story right while doing justice to their amazing canon of work.

Q. So why profile Laszlo and Vilmos? Why now?

Vilmos Zsigmond and Laszlo Kovacs on the set

A. I met Laszlo first as a student then apprenticed to Vilmos early in my career as a cinematographer. I saw them together during the filming of The Witches of Eastwick (1987) commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution and said to myself: “What an amazing story, someone should do that.” However, the stars and circumstances did not align until twenty years later when I decided to do the film in 2006. I believe their fiercely independent artistic approach, coupled with an optimistic faith in themselves, was the reason they had such an impact on American cinema. In their story, I believe young people can see a path to their own future in these uncertain times which is ripe for new innovative ways of making films.

Q. Laszlo and Vilmos worked on classics like Easy Rider, Deliverance, Paper Moon, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, to name a few … which of their films inspire you the most, and why?

A. McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Paper Moon, Close Encounters of The Third Kind, Frances, The Deer Hunter are some of my favorites. All share the trait of portraying unique individual stories without romanticizing their characters and without sentimentality. At their best, the films of both cinematographers achieve what Vilmos Zsigmond calls Poetic Realism.

Q. What challenges did you face making the film?

A. Dealing with the staggering number of masterpieces or notable films they each shot; structuring the film which has several layers/storylines: The Hungarian Revolution; the struggle of two outsider immigrants trying to achieve the American dream; the change in American cinema and how Laszlo & Vilmos were critical to the “American New Wave”; and most importantly the evolution of a deep friendship that spanned more than fifty years.

Q. How did you get access not only to Laszlo and Vilmos, but all the other big names featured in the film – Dennis Hopper, Peter Bogdanovich, Peter Fonda, Jon Voight, and others?

Laszlo Kovacs on the set of Five Easy Pieces

A. All these film artists have a great love of their craft and for their two colleagues and they were very generous with their time. All participants wished to correct the record, so that history will recognize the terrific contribution Laszlo & Vilmos made to our movies.

I wish to thank not only the those mentioned but also give a shout out to Sandra Bullock, John Williams, Richard Donner, Graeme Clifford, Allen Daviau, Owen Roizman, Haskell Wexler, Sharon Stone and the late “Grindhouse King” Ray Dennis Steckler. For me the unanticipated pleasure was having so many wonderful conversations with filmmakers I have been influenced by and admire.

Invitation to Screening of "Secrets of the Dead: MUMBAI MASSACRE"

November 11th, 2009

For those that miss both this advanced screening and the November 25th broadcast on the anniversary of the attacks, the entire episode will be available online at pbs.org/secrets the following day.

Secrets of the Dead:

Please join us for a special press screening

THIRTEEN, in partnership with the New York chapter of the South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA), presents a special press screening of MUMBAI MASSACRE on Tuesday, Nov. 17th from 6 to 8:30 p.m., at the Columbia Journalism School
(third floor lecture hall) on 116th St. and Broadway (#1 train to 116th St.).

The event will begin with a one-hour screening of the film, followed by a panel discussion and Q&A from members of the media.

Panelists are:

Victoria Pitt, Writer/Director of the film
Jared Lipworth, Executive Producer, Secrets of the Dead
Todd Baer, Freelance Journalist – Al Jazeera English; covered Mumbai Massacre from Mumbai, Kashmir & Gujarat
Mira Kamdar, Author “Planet India” and Foreign Policy Analyst

Panel moderated by SAJA Co-founder Sree Sreenivasan,
Dean of Student Affairs, Columbia Graduate School of Journalism,
Contributing Editor DNAinfo.com

Light refreshments will be served before the screening

Kindly reply by November 16th to:
Jitin Hingorani at 212.560.6609 or HingoraniJ@wnet.org


On November 26, 2008, 10 young Pakistani men sailed into Mumbai, India’s thriving financial heart and home of the Bollywood film industry. The men were armed with AK47s, grenades and plastic explosives, as well as satellite phones and global positioning systems connecting them to their controllers. They spread out across the city. Quick-fire strikes on the Victoria Station Railway Station, the busiest train terminus in India, the legendary Leopold Café and Cama Hospital saw more than a hundred dead in only an hour. But this was just the beginning. The gunmen had come for a longer engagement, in targets chosen to grab and hold the world’s attention: the historic Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel, the ultra-modern, five-star Trident-Oberoi Hotel and Nariman House, a Jewish Community center nearby. Sixty hours later, the Indian security forces brought the attacks to a close.

MUMBAI MASSACRE brings together candid and very personal accounts from the ordinary and extraordinary people who were caught up in the siege. Actual text of intercepted telephone calls between the gunmen and their commanders and CCTV footage from the hotels give a chilling, real-life edge to their stories. The film also explores the dramatic role that modern communications played: mobile phones, the internet and 24-hour television news gave vital information not just to those in hiding – but to the killers’ commanders in Pakistan.

The film airs on THIRTEEN’s Secrets of the Dead series on PBS stations nationwide on Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 8 p.m. EST (check local listings), the one-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

THIRTEEN’s Secrets of the Dead: Mumbai Massacre was produced by Electric Pictures and Furnace for THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG, Screen Australia, ScreenWest Inc., Channel 4 (UK), The History Channel UK and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Victoria Pitt is writer/director, Andrew Ogilvie is executive producer for Electric Pictures and Phil Craig is executive producer for Furnace. At THIRTEEN, Jared Lipworth is executive producer. William R. Grant is executive-in-charge.

Video: Ask the Governor About NY’s Economic Crisis

November 10th, 2009

On Thursday November 5th, New York Governor David Paterson appeared on THIRTEEN in a special town hall meeting on the state’s economic crisis, moderated by WNET.ORG special correspondent Rafael Pi Roman. The hour-long discussion featured questions for the governor solicited from thirteen.org. If you missed the program, you can watch it below.

Video: Sesame Street Turns 40

November 10th, 2009

Forty years ago, Sesame Street premiered on New York television. In celebration of November 10, 1969, check out this clip from that very first episode, featuring the appearances by Big Bird, Bert and Ernie, Gordon, Susan, Bob, and Mr. Hooper.

After several decades of advancement in Muppet and video technologies, the Sesame Street cast and crew still inspire and educate millions of children all around the world.

Got a favorite Sesame Street character? We’re sharing the 13 characters we love the most — now tell us your faves!

Video: Rafael Pi Roman on the H1N1 National Emergency

November 9th, 2009

WNET.ORG correspondent Rafael Pi Roman speaks with Donald G. McNeil, Jr., Science and Health Reporter at The New York Times, about President Obama’s declaration of a H1N1 national emergency, and the reports of shortages of the H1N1 vaccine.

For more on how the H1N1 “swine flu” virus is affecting New York, please visit our comprehensive website that features the latest news from across the PBS spectrum as well as original reports from the field.

Q&A: "New York on the Clock" Goes On Location with Laura Berning

November 9th, 2009

Laura Berning earns a living by knocking on strangers’ doors and asking to peek inside. She’s scouted and managed locations for major Hollywood motion pictures, including Quiz Show, Donnie Brasco, and Spider-Man 2. Generally, Laura sticks to scouting Manhattan, snapping photos and putting together location files for directors to review. She’s the subject of the latest installment of the thirteen.org original video series “New York on the Clock.” Inside THIRTEEN spoke with Daniel Ross, a producer of the series, about his experience on location with Laura Berning.

Q. During the course of your shoot, did you come across a location with Laura where you thought, “Damn. I’d love to film something else here someday…”

A. We visited a roof terrace at Rockefeller Center (which you see in the piece). It’s actually a really strange spot, about 10 stories above the street, dominated by sleek skyscrapers, pre-war office buildings, and the steeples of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Q. As a filmmaker yourself, do you have the same eye as Laura when it comes to scouting locations? Or does she have a different way that she looks at places?

A. Laura’s scouting is a bit different than what I encounter when shooting. Usually, I shoot where I have to — a subject’s workplace, home, hangout, etc. I don’t really get to choose. When I do sit-down interviews with a subject, I get to frame him or her with the background I want, but it still has to come from a location that’s part of the subject’s life. Laura works in fiction, so she has the good fortune (or curse) to be more choosy. She can also imagine a location’s potential after set and production design
inevitably alter it from its natural state.

Q. Has Laura’s job changed a lot since she started in the business 15 years ago?

A. Now that we’re in a severe recession, Laura says, buildings and homeowners are less likely to offer bargain deals for permission to shoot their locations. While more places are opening their doors to film productions as an added source of revenue, the ability of studios to negotiate low shooting fees has decreased.

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