A few Q with Julie Cohen, producer of 'Frankie Manning: Never Stop Swinging'

May 20th, 2009

Frankie Manning, ‘ambassador of the Lindy Hop’, will be profiled in this short documentary that airs Thursday night, 5/21, at 10:30pm. It will be rebroadcast as part of SundayArts on Sunday afternoon, 5/24. We asked the filmmaker, Julie Cohen, a few questions about what it was like working with Manning, and that he passed away just as the project was wrapping up.

You can watch the entire documentary online at SundayArts.

(a little background on Manning here.)

Frankie Manning
photo: Ralph Gabriner

What was the impetus for this documentary?
I started reading about Frankie when I was researching a documentary about New Yorkers who served in World War II (Frankie fought in the Pacific). His whole life just felt like a THIRTEEN documentary waiting to happen. He had a fascinating career spanning eight decades and involving iconic New York City institutions from the Savoy Ballroom and the Cotton Club in Harlem to Broadway. And luckily there was amazing footage of him dancing dating back to the 1930s. He had done a number of television interviews, most notably as a swing expert in Ken Burns’ wonderful Jazz series, so I knew he was a “great talker.” I got in touch with Cynthia Millman, who co-authored Frankie’s 2007 autobiography Ambassador of Lindy Hop, and she pointed me to loads of video of him dancing over the past ten years or so. I found myself smiling the whole time I watched. Frankie told me he’s never seen a dancer Lindy-Hopping who wasn’t smiling; I defy viewers to try watching Frankie dance without a smile.

I know he’s kind of a legend…did he perpetuate his own legend status?
I don’t think Frankie’s goal was to be a legend. He just wanted to swing. He achieved legend status because a) he was really, really, really good and b) he kept on swinging when most other people would have slowed down. (more…)

NYC's Amato Opera Company to Shut its Doors

May 19th, 2009

The tiny downtown mom-and-pop opera institution soon will shut its doors: its last performance will be May 29, 2009, the last night of The Marriage of Figaro; this was their 61st season. THIRTEEN a few years ago profiled Amato in a documentary Amato: A Love Affair With Opera.

8 years ago, this list catalogued of all of the opera companies across the U.S., of which Amato was one. Now that Amato is closing, which of the other companies on this list have closed in the intervening years? If you know, tell us in the comments.

* Read or watch a profile of Tony Amato, the company’s founder
* See a gallery of scenes from the Company, 1948-2001
* Watch clips from the documentary (realmedia)

Newshour on Monday, 5/18, interviewed Tony Amato: (more…)

In Case You Missed It: shows from May 11-17, 2009, streaming online

May 19th, 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.

Kenneth Branagh as Wallander from Mystery!; also interviewed by Charlie Rose on May 12

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; last week’s were all on Bolivia today.

Charlie Rose:
May 11: Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel Elizabeth Warren; authors Naomi Klein and William Greider.
May 12: Actress Amy Poehler; actor Kenneth Branagh.
May 13: A discussion on the film Angels and Demons with Ron Howard, Tom Hanks and Ayelet Zurer. (more…)

Nature Comics: Download and Read

May 15th, 2009

For the past 3 years, Nature has produced a full-color comic book as a corollary to the on-air episodes, as an entertaining & educational tool…but we’d like to share them with all of you, at least in digital form. The paper copies of the comic were distributed to museums, schools, and nature centers. The series was edited by David Reisman, and we have all three issues as pdfs at the bottom of this post for you to download and read or print. The above image is from #2, a section of a really great set of panels by R. Kikuo Johnson, who creatively uses the honeycomb as the layout structure–and does some really nice color work. (more…)

Weekly Press Digest, May 8-14, 2009

May 15th, 2009

Selected press items featuring WNET.ORG, its programs, projects and services from the period Friday, May 8 through Thursday, May 14, 2009.

“Time magazine’s current cover story highlighted the 100 most influential people of the year. If a similar list were generated in the Jewish world, Neal Shapiro would be near the top,” remarks The Jewish Week as part of their Top Jews profile series.

Neal Shapiro comments on Skip Gates’ Ralph Lowell Award, the highest award in public broadcasting saying, “Professor Gates is an extraordinary storyteller and THIRTEEN is proud to be his co-producing partner since 2005. His work has touched people all across the country igniting in them a desire to discover who they are and where they come from.” earthtimes.org. (more…)

Awards Roundup: Spring 2009

May 15th, 2009

WNET.ORG is one of the largest producers/providers of video and online content to public media, and once in a while we’re noticed for the work we do. Here are some of the awards that different individuals and groups have garnered or been nominated for, from the past few months:

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. awarded 2008 Ralph Lowell Award (Corporation for Public Broadcasting)

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University, is the recipient of the 2009 Ralph Lowell Award, public television’s most prestigious honor.

A renowned scholar and educator, Professor Gates is the producer, writer and host of the critically acclaimed PBS documentaries African American Lives (2006), Oprah’s Roots: An African American Lives Special (2007) and African American Lives 2 (2008), among many, many others. Professor Gates is the first filmmaker to employ genealogy and genetic science to provide an understanding of African American history. (more…)

Bolivia Now on Worldfocus: Q&A with Reporter Ivette Feliciano

May 13th, 2009

Ivette Feliciano reported four new stories for the Worldfocus signature series, Bolivia Now. They’re airing all this week, but you can also watch them online, here.

Regarding the Signature story on the prospect of Lithium mining in Bolivia:

Ivette Feliciano speaks with a senior Bolivian Mining Official

The lithium is beneath barren salt flats…are there ecosystems there that will be affected by mining operations? Do you know what kind of mining operations (which mining methods) they need to use to get to the lithium? What is the current market like for lithium, internationally?

Feliciano: Lithium is beneath the salt flats. The only wildlife we saw were llamas and wild vicuñas, a smaller animal related to llamas. But they not on the barren salt flats. The details of mining operations are not solidified yet and, as you’ll see in the segment, are up for debate. Many economists and mining experts inside Bolivia and in other countries believe Bolivia does not have the resources or the know how to develop the industry. Lithium is used to make electric car and cell phone batteries, so the world is anxious for these details to be worked out in Bolivia, as the country is believed to have the largest reserves in the world.


Michelangelo Revealed: Angels, Demons, Artists and Intrigue

May 12th, 2009

from: Jared Lipworth, Executive Producer, Secrets of the Dead

Michelangelo Revealed premieres May 13 at 8pm on THIRTEEN.

First Robert Langdon had Da Vinci’s Code to deal with. Now, in his latest fictional adventure, he is off fighting for his life and tracking down a powerful underground brotherhood attempting to bring down the Catholic Church. Popes die, Cardinals are captured, and Robert teams up with a pretty Italian woman named Vittoria to decode secret messages carefully hidden in ancient symbols.

Sounds like a perfect summer blockbuster.

Also sounds eerily similar to our latest episode of Secrets of the Dead. (more…)

The World Science Festival, June 10-14, 2009

May 11th, 2009

A few of the presentations at the upcoming NYC World Science Festival are closely related to upcoming on-air programs or series that will be presented on PBS by THIRTEEN. Tickets are on sale now (and last year most of the ticketed WSF events sold out ahead of time).

To Be Human
The discussion called “To Be Human” is related to our upcoming The Human Spark program (coming Fall 2009), with some of the same participants and a similar topic.
Though many animals display cooperative behavior, human cooperation is distinct. Alan Alda hosts E.O. Wilson, Sarah Hrdy and other leading evolutionary biologists, anthropologists and humanitarians as they examine the origins and evolution of human cooperative behavior. (more…)

Frontline: More on the Madoff Case

May 11th, 2009

Frontline producers Martin Smith and Marcela Gaviria unravel the story behind the world’s first truly global Ponzi scheme—a deception that lasted longer, reached wider and cut deeper than any
other business scandal in history. Airs 9pm 5/12 on THIRTEEN, and online after broadcast.

Excerpt: In an exclusive TV interview, Michael Bienes describes how he got into the investment advisory business and the easy money he made recruiting clients for Madoff: (more…)