Watch THIRTEEN's Emmy®-nominated News and Documentary programs

July 14th, 2009

Nominations for the 30th Annual News and Documentary Emmy® Awards were announced today by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS).  The News & Documentary Emmy® Awards will be presented on Monday, September 21. Here’s a list of programs at THIRTEEN that are nominated this year, along with links where you can watch many of them online.


21st Century Africa
Executive Producer:   Marc Rosenwasser
Producer:   Yuval Lion
Correspondent:   Martin Seemungal


Wide Angle
Birth of a Surgeon
Executive Producer:  Pamela Hogan
Senior Producer:  Nina Chaudry
Producer: Loui Bernal
Director: Karin Falck

Wide Angle
Lord’s Children
Director/Producer:  Oliver Stoltz
Executive Producer:  Pamela Hogan
Senior Producer:  Nina Chaudry
Director:  Ali Samadi Ahadi


Afghanistan: The Forgotten War
Executive Producer:   John Siceloff
Senior Producer: Ty West
Producer: Bill Gentile


Bill Moyers Journal
Interview with Representative Henry Waxman
Executive Producer:  Judy Doctoroff O’Neill
Co‑Executive Producer: Sally Roy
Executive Editors:  Bill Moyers, Judith Davidson Moyers
Producer: Gail Ablow


In The Footsteps of Marco Polo
Executive Producers:   Tom Casciato, Josh Nathan, Stephen Segaller, Lisa Taylor‑Belliveau
Senior Producer:  Eva Anisko
Producer/Directors:  Denis Belliveau, Francis O’Donnell
Producer: Emir Lewis


Secrets of the Dead
Doping for Gold
Executive Producers:   Phil Craig, Sally Jo Fifer, Jared Lipworth
Producer/Director: Alison Rooper


War in Congo
Executive Producer: Marc Rosenwasser
Producers: Lisa Biagiotti, Taylor Krauss
Reporter: Michael Kavanagh


Bill Moyers Journal
Essays ‑ Gilded Age, It Was Oil, Memorial Day
Writers: Bill Moyers, Michael Winship


Crash: A Tale of Two Species
Camerapersons: Michael Male, Chris Szwedo, Andrew Young

White Falcon, White Wolf
Camerapersons: Ian McCarthy, Mark Smith

Watch the Sotomayor Confirmation Hearings LIVE

July 13th, 2009

Special Coverage from NPR News
and The NewsHour:
Sonia Sotomayor Confirmation Hearings
Live broadcast has concluded

PBS is providing full coverage of the Senate Confirmation Hearings for Supreme Court Nominee and Bronx native Judge Sonia Sotomayor, which began Monday, July 13, 2009. NewsHour Senior Correspondent Judy Woodruff anchors live coverage from the hearing room in the Hart Senate Office Building, with analysis from Marcia Coyle of the National Law Journal. PBS will provide gavel-to-gavel coverage of the days when Sotomayor is scheduled to testify before the committee.

Monday’s hearing included statements from each of the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Sotomayor’s opening statement. In Tuesday’s hearing, senators from both sides of the aisle queried Judge Sotomayor about her judicial record, including her controversial decision on racial preference in the promotion of firefighters in New Haven, Connecticut, and whether her personal feelings and her racial background affect her rulings on the bench. In Wednesday’s hearing, senators questioned Judge Sotomayor about her views on abortion, gun control, televising Supreme Court deliberations, and her controversial “wise Latina” comment.

Our live webcast of the Senate confirmation hearings concluded on Thursday, July 16 at approximately 1:30 p.m. ET. For in-depth coverage and analysis of Judge Sotomayor and the Supreme Court, please visit Supreme Court Watch at the online NewsHour.

THIRTEEN video portal open for business

July 10th, 2009

I have two confessions to make.

First – I don’t have a TV.

Yes, I work for a broadcast company and I don’t own a television. But I watch TV shows. A lot of them.

Which leads me to my second confession. I’m addicted to Hulu and Netflix “watch instantly”.

I curl up in bed with my computer on my lap and decompress to an episode of Friday Night Lights, Starter Wife or Masterpiece Theatre.

That’s right, Masterpiece Theatre…my dirty little secret is that I’m hooked on bonnet dramas. So when PBS launched their video portal back in April, my obsession with British dramas collided with my consumption of online TV and there were fireworks. Metaphorically speaking.

A whole new world has opened up: Thirteen is no longer just your grandparents’ station. Or your kids’.

It’s for all of us.

When we want it. How we want it.

But there’s more.

Thirteen is working closely with PBS to beta test a local version of the video portal, which launched this week: www.thirteen.org/video. We want our audience to have their PBS needs (British drama or otherwise) fulfilled right here at home. Thirteen.org/video looks like the PBS portal but with added programming produced by us: The City Concealed, Reel 13 shorts, Worldfocus….and many more in the pipeline.

Hours of programming gets added every week.

It’s a one-stop-shop. Go straight to the program you want, or browse by genre or show title.

We’re still working out some technical kinks (we don’t use the term “beta” loosely), but we’re anxious to hear what you think. Leave a comment here or at www.facebook.com/wnet-thirteen.

Thanks for watching – anywhere.

-debbie adler
director of online marketing

The City Concealed: Behind the Scenes at North Brother Island

July 8th, 2009

Once a quarantine hospital to separate infected individuals from the general public, today North Brother Island is a protected heron habitat. Access to the island is extremely limited due to the sensitivity of the bird-breeding environment. Daniel Ross of The City Concealed gives his take on filming the island for this edition of Inside Thirteen.

by Daniel Ross
Producer, The City Concealed

When we met Liz Craig and Dr. Susan Elbin, our guides from New York City Audubon, I asked them if we should beware anything on North Brother Island. “Sink holes,” they said. “And poison ivy.” Like an idiot, I had forgotten to wear long sleeves for our shoot of The City Concealed: North Brother Island Bird Sanctuary.

Shooting on North Brother Island proved tremendously difficult. The majority of the island is overgrown with dense thickets, shoulder-high bushes, and groping vines. There were places where we could’ve used machetes to hack our way through the growth. Fortunately, I made it through the shoot without
developing any serious rashes.

The beginning of our journey took us through the thickest woods on the island. Our guides kept a lookout for signs of colonial water bird nesting. As you’ll see in the video, they didn’t find any recent nests. Still, life surrounded us – we came upon a termite nest erupting with what looked like new spawn – along with reminders of death and decay, like the skeleton of a duck strewn in the weeds. And then, of course, the ghosts of humans come and gone, both recently (Snapple bottles, bags of Cooler Ranch) and in years past (the crumbling buildings abandoned half a century ago).

The silent, derelict structures on the island – Riverside Hospital and its surrounding buildings – both lure and repel visitors: too intriguing to avoid, but ominous and dangerous to visit. It’s almost as if they’re hiding under the tree canopy. As we beat a path through the bushes, we’d catch glimpses of a brick wall or a crumbled façade, and then we’d push back a particularly thick branch and emerge in a clearing with a wide view of the full ruins.

The existence of these ruins poses a dilemma. One the one hand, they’re a fascinating sight, and a window into the rich history of turn-of-the-century New York City. On the other hand, their existence encourages illicit visits to North Brother Island by curious urban explorers, which disturbs the delicate colonial water bird habitat.

Admittedly, my interest in North Brother Island began with the ruins. But after speaking with our Audubon guides, I understood the importance of the island as a bird sanctuary too. As Susan Elbin explains in the video, the way Nature — both flora and fauna — has reclaimed the island really speaks to the power of our environment. Still, since we were on the island, I was hopeful we’d get a glimpse inside the buildings.

When we first reached the hospital there was some hesitation about whether we should go in. Our guides weren’t comfortable taking responsibility for our safety on their watch, but we assured them they wouldn’t be held accountable if something happened. So we entered.

The interior of the building is spackled in bird droppings. Corridors and stairwells run several paces before they’re swallowed by darkness. If you listen closely, you can hear things moving in the dark, as if somebody kicked a fallen piece of plaster.

The roof of the hospital opens to a 360-degree vista of the city, which you can see in our video. To the southwest, Manhattan looms out in the distant haze. A couple miles to the east lay Rikers Island and LaGuardia Airport. The planes fly directly over North Brother Island as they leave the tarmac. Every thirty seconds or so the sucking roar of jet engines interrupts the stillness on the island.

Our guides were reluctant to stay on the island for more than a couple hours for fear of disturbing the wildlife, so we came and went fairly quickly. As we motored out on our dinghy, heading for the Bronx, I looked back at North Brother Island and watched the trees bend in the wind, revealing the red bricks of the buildings concealed within. I thought about something Audubon researcher Liz Craig said earlier in the day: that she felt privileged to be able to visit the island, even if only once a year.

In Case You Missed It: shows from June 29-July 5, 2009, streaming online

July 7th, 2009

A roundup of all streaming, full-length videos online from PBS and Thirteen programs that aired last week. See the list below for all full episodes and links.

Auctioneer and appraiser Wes Cowan (left) talks to Michael Kudravetz in a scene from History Detectives

News and Public Affairs: Nightly Programs:
NewsHour with Jim Lehrer: The reports, segmented by story, per day.
Nightly Business Report: The reports stream online.
NJN News: The reports stream online for one week (see archives M-Tu-W-Th-F).
Worldfocus:The nightly news show streams online for 15 days; signature stories are online forever.

Charlie Rose:
June 29: A discussion about Bernard Madoff with New York Times journalist Diana Henriques, and Dominic Ambrosino and Ronnie Sue Ambrosino, two of Madoff’s financial victims; former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski.
June 30: Former Senator Tom Daschle; New York Times columnist Paul Krugman; NBC News correspondent Richard Engle.
July 1: A talk about cyberwarfare with former Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell, New York Times Chief Washington Correspondent David Sanger and CSIS Director, Technology and Public Policy Program James Lewis; a discussion on the play Mary Stuart with actresses Janet McTeer and Harriet Walter.
July 2: Author Richard Wolffe; film director Guillermo del Toro.
July 3: Founder of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation Peter Peterson.

Tavis Smiley:
June 29: Motown Records founder Berry Gordy.
June 30: Princeton professor Dr. Cornel West; Georgetown University professor Dr. Michael Eric Dyson.
July 1: New York Times journalist Roger Cohen; actress Shohreh Aghdashloo.
July 2: Actor Bill Pullman; director of litigation for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) Debo Adegbile.
July 3: New Yorker writer Jane Mayer; author Malina Saval.

News and Public Affairs: Weekly Programs:
Washington Week: U.S. combat troops pull out of Iraq; Democratic majorities and President Obama; Al Franken becomes Minnesota’s U.S. Senator; the Supreme Court ruling on firefighters.
NOW on PBS: The issues and questions surrounding a fence on the U.S.-Mexico border used to impede illegal immigration.
Bill Moyers Journal: A conversation about faith and social justice with Cornell West, Gary Dorrien and Serene Jones; hunger in America.
Religion & Ethics Newsweekly:

Consuelo Mack Wealthtrack: A conversation with Bill Gross, founder and co-CIO of PIMCO, who runs the largest bond fund.
Caucus New Jersey: Breaking Down Barriers. This program deals with how loved ones and friends deal with the challenges and struggles when a child has special needs. Part two.
New York Now: An interview with Paul Elisha, former executive director of Common Cause, on reform legislation. Online for one week only.

News and Public Affairs:
Wide Angle: Crossing Heaven’s Border. This documentary tells the stories of North Korean defectors who made the arduous journey to China for freedom.

Science and Nature:
NOVA: Musical Minds. Neurologist and author Dr. Oliver Sacks explores the brain’s power to recognize music, and how music is being used as a form of therapy for patients with neurological disorders. Available for online viewing through July 7.
NOVAscienceNOW: Diamond factory; anthrax investigation; auto-tune; a profile of Luis von Ahn.

Antiques Roadshow: Tampa, FL-Hour Three
History Detectives: Manhattan Project patent; galleon shipwreck; Creole poems.

Arts and Culture:
Masterpiece Mystery!: Miss Marple Series IV: A Pocketful of Rye. Miss Marple (Julia McKenzie) investigates the death of businessman Rex Fortescue, with the only clue being a grain of rye found on him. Part one of four. Available for online viewing through July 19.
Masterpiece Mystery!: Poirot: Mrs. McGinty’s Dead. Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (David Suchet) is on the case to save a man from execution for murder. Available for online viewing through July 12.

Jacques Pepin:More Fast Food My Way: Seafood Tricks. Eggs and anchovies; baked clams madison; cod in olive-tomato crust; skilled broccoli bits; mango with nutella sauce.

SundayArts: In Memory of Pina Bausch

July 2nd, 2009

by Susan Yung

The great German choreographer Pina Bausch passed away on June 29 within a brutally short week of a cancer diagnosis, at 68 years of age. It was a terrible shock to the world of dance and performance—the end of an era and the sudden, cold beginning of another without her.

Her pieces, performed by Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, a company of characters more intriguing than Dickens’, were life magnified—passionate, dirty, beautiful, violent, and crazy. A lot of their actions seemed more like rituals of torture than dance. But it was definitely theater, set to expansive musical collages, in various Peter Pabst arrangements of dirt and water, among a fallen wall of concrete blocks which we witnessed crashing down, a field of carnations, a human-scaled terrarium.

The collapsing wall in Palermo, Palermo was certainly the most terrifying mechanical event I’ve witnessed in a theater. But more terrifying were the things Pina’s dancers did to one another or themselves, as people do in real life. Whatever you can think of to inflict pain or humiliation on another human, she did. These tasks, in which the women were usually the victims, often involved icons of femininity—long hair, lipstick, the donning and shedding of evening gowns, and the pervasive stilettos, which the mere idea of wearing was enough to make my calves cramp. She also trafficked generously in the four elements (well, fire being cigarettes), and in fruit, knives, chairs, and other banal objects.

Women in silk warred for power with men in suits, each gender wielding its considerable charms and brute strength. But the bolt of pure romance that shot through her work explored the opposite pole. The men, sometimes acting as mere furniture, carried the women aloft like angels; the women curled themselves around men like wisps of smoke, or cooed in a group around one lucky guy.

In the mid-90s, Pina’s work began to soften for real, beyond the periodic seduction. More floral and less grave (as in burial) imagery. Water, but in buckets to wash with, or to shower from the rafters or well up mildly in a pond and recede. Hair, now brushed; satin, less to escape out of than cover up with. Always heels and suits. A good deal more movement—solos created for each individual dancer, even for the liquid Pina herself on rare anticipated occasion. It was like she’d exorcised most of the demons that drove her til she was five plus decades in, and she’d fallen in love all over again and needed to remind the world what it felt like. Elysium after the apocalypse.

Soundtracks grew in eclecticism and source. Clamored for to do commissions by cities/countries around the planet, her later oeuvre grew by a series of travelogues, cultural scrapbooks of numerous destinations far from Wuppertal. And even more dance than ever, in her lyrical, unending pages of cursive, forcefully performed by the dancers we’d come to know less as athletes, more as personalities. And each new show added new characters to an already indelible pantheon, performers who burrowed even deeper into our psyches with each visit.

I’ve watched her work for 25 years at BAM, her sole New York venue. I work at BAM, and a big reason is because Pina’s work had a seismic affect on me when I first saw it. It pushed human emotion to unexpected extremes, frighteningly dark as well as gloriously ecstatic. When her company came to town, there was always a buzz in the building, from hearing company class being conducted in the mornings, to the feverish lines of people in the Opera House lobby waiting to buy tickets to her sold-out shows. In person—pale, slight, and soft-spoken—she seemed less flesh and bones than luminous spirit, humility, and politesse, which is how she will be remembered, alongside her wildly human body of work.

Photographs: (top) Pablo Aran Gimeno and Ruth Amarante in Bamboo Blues, photo by Ulli Weiss. (bottom) Pina Bausch, photo by Jonathan Barth.

Susan Yung writes about dance and art for various publications including Dance Magazine, The New York Sun, and Ballet-tanz. She oversees publications at the Brooklyn Academy of Music as well. Read more of her take on the New York art and dance scene on the SundayArts blog.

In Case You Missed It: shows from June 22-28, 2009, streaming online

June 30th, 2009

A roundup of all streaming, full-length videos online from PBS and Thirteen programs that aired last week. See the list below for all full episodes and links.

A scene from In The Life's 40th Anniversary of Stonewall

News and Public Affairs: Nightly Programs:
NewsHour with Jim Lehrer: The reports, segmented by story, per day.
Nightly Business Report: The reports stream online.
NJN News: The reports stream online for one week (see archives M-Tu-W-Th-F).
Worldfocus:The nightly news show streams online for 15 days; signature stories are online forever.

Charlie Rose:
June 22: Verizon chairman and CEO Ivan Seidenberg; an update on Iran with The New York Times’ Roger Cohen and The Washington Post‘s Robin Wright.
June 23: A talk about the new strategy in Afghanistan with Tom Ricks, David Kilcullen and David Barno; The Huffington Post’s Nico Pitney and The Washington Post’s David Ignatius on Iran.
June 24: United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; NBC correspondent Chuck Todd talks about South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford.
June 25: CEO and chairman of General Electric Jeffrey Immelt.
June 26: An appreciation of Michael Jackson with The New Yorker’s Kelefa Sanneh and record producers Quincy Jones and L.A. Reid; New York Times journalist Roger Cohen; film director Kathryn Bigelow.

Tavis Smiley:
June 22: National Iranian Council president Trita Parisi; U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.
June 23: Film director Francis Ford Coppola.
June 24: Musician Femi Kuti; film director Francis Ford Coppola.
June 25: Contemporary gospel act Mary Mary. a tribute to Ed McMahon.
June 26: BBC journalist Katty Kay; actor Paul Giamatti.

News and Public Affairs: Weekly Programs:
Washington Week: President Obama’s stance towards the recent violence in Iran; tne Supreme Court cases on the Voting Rights Act and a student strip-search; the impact of Gov. Sanford’s personal troubles on the GOP.
NOW on PBS: A feature about homeless advocate Max Rameau, who argues that homeless people should live in foreclosed homes, even though it is illegal.
Bill Moyers Journal: A conversation with poet W.S. Merwin.
Religion & Ethics Newsweekly:

  • Religion and health care reform: A discussion about religious groups’ role and efforts in bringing health care reform to the nation.
  • A feature about the group Parents Circle-Families Forum, which bridges together Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslims who lost loved ones in the Middle East conflict.
  • An interview with stained glass artist Jim Piercy.

Consuelo Mack Wealthtrack: A conversation with two innovative hedge fund managers: Andrew Lo, MIT professor and chief scientific officer at AlphaSimplex Group; and Cliff Asness, managing and founding principal at AQR Capital Management.
Caucus New Jersey. Breaking Down Barriers. This program deals with how loved ones and friends deal with the challenges and struggles when a child has special needs. Part one of two.
New York Now: The battle between the Senate and Gov. Paterson. Online for one week only.

News and Public Affairs:
In The Life: 40th Anniversary of Stonewall. This special episode of the longest running LGBT television series takes a look back at the famous riots from 1969 that launched the gay liberation movement.

Science and Nature:
NOVA: Ape Genius. This installment of NOVA looks at the intelligence of the great apes as researchers search to find out the difference between them and humans.

Antiques Roadshow: Tampa, FL-Hour Two
History Detectives: Thomas Edison’s PsychoPhone, which was created to record messages from the afterlife; the search for a mysterious dog trainer and his role in helping the Allies during World War II; a watch fob and its connection with Pablo Villa’s 1916 raid.

Arts and Culture:
Masterpiece Mystery!: Poirot: Mrs. McGinty’s Dead. Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (David Suchet) is on the case to save a man from execution for murder.Available for online viewing through July 12.

Jacques Pepin:More Fast Food My Way: Bread Flip. Glazed sausage bits; Tibetan flatbread; risotto with broccoli stems; salmon burgers with baby arugula; grapefruit supremes.

Q&A with Lisa Biagiotti on Homophobia and HIV in Jamaica

June 29th, 2009

Lisa Biagiotti is working on signature stories for Worldfocus on HIV/AIDS and homophobia in Jamaica. She reported with Producer Micah Fink and Director of Photography Gabrielle Weiss, both from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Their reports will air on Worldfocus later this summer.

Q: Gay pride is celebrated across the U.S. every June. Could there be similar celebrations of gay pride in Jamaica?

Lisa Biagiotti (right) walks with Ida Northover through an inner city on the outskirts of Kingston, Jamaica.

Lisa Biagiotti: No, there could not be an openly gay pride parade on the streets of Kingston, Jamaica, as in New York or San Francisco. In Jamaica, anti-sodomy laws criminalize sex between men, fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible and pride in reproduction contribute to the general disdain and non-acceptance of the gay lifestyle. The idea of a “glass closet” best describes the public’s expectations of homosexuals, meaning, “We know you’re gay, and we can see you, but stay in that glass closet.” In fairness, Jamaica tends not to be a heavily PDA (public display of affection) culture. You don’t see men and women petting each other or even holding hands in public, with the exception of the dancehalls.

One thing that was interesting was the way homophobia finds its way into the language, in the choosing (or avoiding) of certain “gay” words. When little boys call each other “sissy” names, they say “you’re a battyman.” “Batty” means buttocks and is a derogatory name for a gay man. Saying the number “two” — referring to the anus — is also avoided. We heard a story of a father instructing his two-year-old son to say he’s going to be three. You’d say “come forward” instead of “come back.” If you’re ordering fish to eat, you’d say, “Give me a swimmer or a sea creature.” “Fish” is another term for a gay man.

Q: This anti-gay side of Jamaica doesn’t really jive with what many Americans may think of Jamaica. (Stereotypically, sun, fun, Bob Marley and “no problem, mon.”) How did you become interested in this topic?

Lisa Biagiotti: I first became interested in the subject of gay Jamaicans about 18 months ago. I was reporting on gay asylum in the U.S. and was told that Jamaica was one of the most violent and homophobic places for gays. I was told by human rights organizations that if you’re gay and Jamaican, you’d qualify for asylum. I then spent a year profiling Alex Brown, a gay Jamaican who received asylum in the U.S. In all honesty, this portrait of Jamaica was completely foreign to me — it contradicted the image of the Jamaica I know and love.

Q: Your mom is Jamaican and your family ties to Jamaica span three generations. Was it difficult to report these seemingly negative stories for Worldfocus? What did your family think?

Lisa Biagiotti: At first, I was concerned we were doing advocacy journalism. I questioned whether we were imposing our U.S.-centric views on a country with a different cultural bedrock. Did we really understand the Jamaican culture, which is steeped in religion? Admittedly, I was protective of Jamaican people, who I still hold to be some of the warmest and most resilient people on Earth.

Going into these stories, I was aware of my bias. As a journalist, first-hand observation served as my guide. My team and I went to the places where people were literally living in hiding. We listened to the palpable stories of many gay men — the violence against them, the families that rejected them, the double lives they lead and the idea of mainstreaming their lifestyle to “make it right with God.”
We spoke to hundreds of Jamaicans from all walks of life to try to understand the cultural nuances and attitudes toward homosexuals. And everywhere we went, we heard the same things — said with varying levels of vitriol. Open homosexuality is not accepted. Tolerance and violence really depends on class and whether people act on their general disgust toward gays.

After observing and speaking with people on the ground, I’m confident that the stories we’re producing are fair and accurate illustrations of Jamaican attitudes toward homosexuals. As for my family in Jamaica and abroad, I believe they will respect that. Our goal is not to change Jamaican culture and mores, but to present what it’s like to be gay in Jamaica, and why it is important for the general population to talk about homosexuality because gay men are living double lives in secret.

Q: What do you mean by “double lives?” How is this playing into the spread of HIV?

Lisa Biagiotti: A recent Ministry of Health study showed that more than 30 percent of gay men are HIV+. It was a small sampling of about 200 gay men. But it was one of the first surveys conducted within the gay community. Whether or not the study is actually reflective of the larger gay community is questionable, but this rate is still 20 times higher than the general population.

What’s important here is that gay men are not isolated from the rest of the population. These men lead double lives — one gay life underground and another “heterosexual” life to save face in their communities. Gay men have girlfriends and wives and children, who likely do not know of their secret lives. This poses a threat to spreading HIV into the general population. So, when you layer this 30+ percent figure over the laws, religion and general stigma against homosexuality, you’re masking the problem and potentially spreading the infection into the general population.

Q: How does the Jamaican government address the HIV problem without acknowledging the gay community?

Lisa Biagiotti: It’s difficult to target the gay community because they’re not out in the open. There could be no ad campaign in Jamaica talking about using condoms for anal sex because anal sex is illegal and punishable with a 12-year prison sentence of hard labor. The channels of awareness and education of gay men are limited and insufficient. I should also mention that, on the flip side, Jamaica has made incredible strides in making anti-retroviral medication free and accessible to everyone. Early testing has whittled the mother-to-child HIV transmission rate down to under 5 percent. But the gay community is not siloed from the general population and could potentially reintroduce the disease into the general population.

Q: Given the extreme anti-gay discrimination and level of violence in Jamaica, did you ever feel that you were in danger as you covered these stories?

Lisa Biagiotti: Every day, approximately four or five people are murdered in Jamaica. For a country the size of Connecticut, with 2.8 million people, that’s a staggering murder rate. I don’t know if I had a false sense of security, but I never felt in danger. We had local guides taking us around and introducing us to communities, and I think that was key. We made sure we had an introduction wherever we went. We told people we were reporting on homosexuality, HIV and AIDS. We knew these were touchy topics, but we were open and I think Jamaicans appreciated our honesty, and were in turn welcoming.

Pride Week Video: A Stonewall Special

June 24th, 2009

This week on Theater Talk, Village Voice columnist Michael Musto, playwright Mart Crowley and actor Laurence Luckinbill look back at the impact of William Friedkin’s landmark film of the gay experience, “The Boys in the Band” (1970). The film opened a year and a half before the Stonewall riots. Check local listings to see when Theater Talk airs on THIRTEEN.

©Theater Talk Productions/CUNY TV

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