Downton Abbey Heads into the Roaring Twenties

March 1st, 2012

Flappers, jazz, life after World War I (and the birth of the BBC!)… The Downton stars dish on what they hope the future holds during the Roaring Twenties when season three of Downton Abbey arrives next year.

Missed any of season two? Watch full episodes online through March 6, and read episode recaps on The Downton Dish.

At the Paley Center Returns for Season Two

January 13th, 2012

At the Paley Center returns for a second season on January 19, this time focusing on the series, “She’s Making Media.”

In keeping with the Paley Center’s history of celebrating women’s contributions to the media landscape, the series features digital media’s next generation of women leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators while also looking at the work and wisdom from some of media’s icons.

At the Paley Center airs Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. on THIRTEEN.

Enter our giveaway for a chance to win a pair of tickets to an upcoming screening of “Hey Hey Hey…it’s Bill Cosby” at the Paley Center for Media.

Check out the full lineup of guests:

January 19: Glenn Close

January 26: Marlo Thomas

February 2: Jane Fonda

February 9: Arianna Huffington

February 16: Eve Ensler

February 23: Maria Elena Salinas

Coming Next Month…Downton Abbey Season Two

December 1st, 2011

The wait is over! Well, almost. With Season Two of Downton Abbey less than forty days away, get a closer look at the premiere with THIRTEEN.

Check out our Facebook page for Season Two photos, polls, and more.

If you want to catch up on Season One, THIRTEEN is re-airing Downton Abbey at the following times:

  • Parts 1 & 2 air Sunday, December 11 at 8 p.m. & 9 p.m.
  • Parts 3 & 4 air Sunday, December 18 at 8 p.m. & 9:45 p.m.
  • On New Years Day, a full Season One marathon, starting at 3 p.m.

Visit Shop Thirteen to purchase the complete first season of Downton Abbey for $25 (Thirteen Members get 15% off).

The series returns on January 8, 2012, but in the meantime, check out a preview and go behind-the scenes with the cast and creator, Julian Fellowes:

Season Two preview:

Downton Abbey cast interview:

Interview with Downton Abbey Creator Julian Fellowes:

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:

Masterpiece: Fall 2011 Preview

June 22nd, 2011

Masterpiece fans, get a glimpse of what’s to come as Executive Producer Rebecca Eaton shares the Fall 2011 season lineup at the PBS Annual Meeting (including — you guessed it — the long awaited return of Downton Abbey!).

If you missed it, check out host Alan Cumming’s tour of the Masterpiece Mystery! set:

Coming Up on Great Performances

May 18th, 2011

This season, Great Performances features an eclectic mix of shows, ranging from a “live film” interpretation of Verdi’s Rigoletto to a guitar festival featuring Eric Clapton. Check out a lineup of what’s coming up:

May 26 at 8 p.m. – Iphigenie En Tauride: Susan Graham and Plácido Domingo star in Gluck’s take on the primal Greek myth, conducted by Patrick Summers.

May 31 at 8 p.m. – Carnegie Hall 120th Anniversary Concert with Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic: Carnegie Hall commemorates its 120th anniversary with a gala concert featuring Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic, with special guests Emanuel Ax, Yo-Yo Ma, Gil Shaham, and Audra McDonald.

June 1 at 9 p.m. – Nixon in China: John Adams conducts his opera about Nixon’s 1972 encounter with Mao, directed by Peter Sellars in his Met debut and starring James Maddelena as Nixon.

June 5 at 9 p.m. – Jackie Evancho: Dream with Me in Concert: 10-year-old soprano Jackie Evancho makes her solo concert debut, performing interpretations of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Pie Jesu” and Puccini’s “O Mio Babbino Caro.”

June 6 at 9:30 p.m. – Eric Clapton Crossroads Guitar Festival 3: In June 2010, Eric Clapton gathered the world’s most talented guitar players at the third Crossroads Guitar Festival. All profits benefited The Crossroads Centre in Antigua, a treatment and education facility Clapton founded to help people suffering from chemical dependency.

July 7 at 8 p.m. – Don Carlo: British theater director Nicholas Hytner makes his Met debut with Verdi’s historic epic starring Roberto Alagna and Simon Keenlyside.

July 15 at 9:30 p.m. – Rigoletto from Mantua: Plácido Domingo stars in Andrea Andermann’s cinematic interpretation of the Verdi opera, recorded live last September in Mantua, Italy.

Plàcido Domingo and Julia Novikova in 'Rigoletto from Mantua' (Cristiano Giglioli)

July 21 at 8 p.m. – Le Comte Ory: Juan Diego Flórez, Diana Damrau and Joyce DiDonato star in Rossini’s French comic opera, directed by Bartlett Sher.

Diana Damrau, Juan Diego Flórez, and the cast of the Met's 'Le Comte Ory' (Marty Sohl)

Behind-the-Scenes of Vine Talk, with Executive Producer Bruce Marcus and WNET's Josh Nathan

April 4th, 2011

Bruce Marcus

Inside Thirteen recently spoke with Bruce Marcus, executive producer of Vine Talk, and Josh Nathan, WNET‘s Vice President of Business Development, to discuss how the unique show came to fruition (pardon the pun).

Hosted by Stanley Tucci, Vine Talk features wine experts Ray Isle, Stepahanie Caraway, and Emilie Perrier.  Each episode hosts wine tastings with a new and diverse panel of celebrity guests, from chefs (Lidia Bastianich, Stephen Raichlen, and many others) to actors (including Patricia Clarkson and John Lithgow), and beyond.

Vine Talk premieres Thursday, April 7 at 10:30 p.m. on THIRTEEN.

Inside Thirteen: What was the inspiration behind Vine Talk?

Bruce Marcus: The inspiration really came about by noticing a real void of television programs related to wine that were comforting and welcoming to people.  At the same time, knowing that for years, producers have said they were going to try and deal with that and they just never did – there was always the same type of show with wine experts prancing through the fields of France.  Those are beautiful shows, I’ve produced them, but very few people watch and they certainly don’t sustain themselves over time.  This is an adult entertainment show with a focus on wine – it’s not a wine show.

I think the show can seriously have an impact on wine drinking habits in the United States, and it should.  Wine drinking is becoming more and more popular.  It has a long way to catch up with many countries in the world, and there’s no reason people should be nervous about wine, just because there is a history around it and an academic side.

IT: How are celebrity guests selected for the show?

BM: There are a number of us working together – we work very closely with Stanley Tucci’s production company, OLIVE Productions.  We get a certain number of guests that are known to Stanley, but in general we are looking for a wide range of interesting people.  They don’t have to be Hollywood celebrities.  We’ve had a good share of musicians, we’ve had a poet, writers – we just want a good group that we think will make a good mix at the tasting table.

IT: What is the process for selecting which wines will be featured?

BM: We’re doing everything we can to make it a very credible process.  First, our production staff selected the wine regions for the purpose of attracting a large audience.  Over 80% of the wine purchased in the States actually comes from U.S. vineyards, so we wanted a large percent of the shows to be out of the U.S. wine regions.  After that, we gave certain parameters to the wine associations and asked them to find 25-35 wines within their regions that fit our parameters.  For example, one of the parameters was, for the most part we needed wines that were available in stores – we did not want to go out in front of millions of viewers and have 10 bottles available across the country, because we know it’s going to drive people to want to get these.  We also wanted a good price spread.  The associations were then invited to a selection event in October where we put together independent wine panels that tasted the wines and picked their six favorites of each group of 25 or 30. Our sommeliers did participate, but it was mostly outside people – retailers, distributors, wine-knowledgeable people, and they picked the six for each show.

IT: Can you talk about working with WNET and what the experience has been like using the Tisch/WNET Studios?

BM: We are very fortunate that the timing worked out and perhaps the ideal location for us in New York City was becoming available unbeknownst to us, right at a great crossroads of American culture at Lincoln Center.  It wasn’t the exact physical makeup that we had initially envisioned, but that’s never the case, and we ended up with what we believe is a very effective use of both the upstairs and the downstairs – we like to call it our upstairs cellar, and then the studio audience is down on the first level.  We couldn’t have asked for a better public television partner.  It’s been great working with the WNET and WLIW team, and everyone has been incredibly supportive.

IT: What is your favorite wine?

BM: They keep changing, every few months!  I’m very much into wines from Chile – Chile is not featured in our first season of shows – I got outvoted!

Josh Nathan

Inside Thirteen: What first interested you in Vine Talk?

Josh Nathan: The show grabbed my attention – there’s nothing else on television like this.  It’s an opportunity to have fun and educate at the same time. I think wine is something that needs to be made accessible to people, and I think Public Television’s mission is to make complicated subjects accessible.

Having Stanley Tucci host was an interesting and positive aspect of the show design; rather than having a chef or a wine sommelier be the host of the show, instead you have someone who everybody knows, is very likeable and delightful on the air, and who has an interest in and knowledge of wine. He’s not lecturing, he’s discovering with the audience, and I thought that was just a terrific approach.

IT: To what degree has WNET been involved in the creative process for this show, if at all?

JN: We got involved as soon as Bruce brought the program to us.  He had a format and a layout for how the show was going to work, and we reviewed it, got engaged in refining that format with him and Joe Lacarro, the director.  After the pilot was shot, we got very involved in deciding how to improve the structure of the show.  Neil Shapiro (WNET’s president and CEO), Stephen Segaller (WNET’s VP of Content), and our team watched it, put notes together, and then I sat down with the Vine Talk team and one of the sommeliers, and we restructured the show based on that pilot learning experience. Bruce came up with the concept and the format, but all of our hands were in taking it to the next spot.  The folks at APT screened it as well.  It was a very positive and efficient collaboration, pre-pilot and post-pilot.

IT: What has the experience been like having the show film at the new Tisch WNET Studios at Lincoln Center?

JN: I thought it was genius!  They originally were going to shoot in another space, and I suggested that they look at Lincoln Center and think about the upstairs and the downstairs.  I didn’t really know what their requirements were in terms of layout.  They went over and spent some time in the studio and looked at the space and they came back to me and said they wanted to use the studio because it offered a way to separate the audience from the performance, which they thought would enhance the show.  Now the studio audience can be talking and laughing and enjoying themselves while they watch the taping, without everyone having to be quiet while the show is going on.  It also gives the guests, Stanley Tucci, and Ray Isle an intimate space to work.  The way they transformed the studio was brilliant, and that’s what’s so cool about the Lincoln Center studio – it’s a gem of a space, and I think this show really shows the potential for how much you can do in that space.  It was a pleasant surprise.

IT: What is your favorite wine?

JN: I have a few – it depends on what I’m eating, and the weather.  In the summertime, it can be any number of white wines.  On a really hot summer day as part of a cocktail hour, I’ll serve a rosé.  There’s an Italian wine, Dolcetto d’Alba, a wonderful red wine from Italy, that, whenever I see it on a wine list at a restaurant, it’s always terrific.  For white wine, there’s a Picpoul grape from France that’s fantastic – great with fish, chicken, crackers and cheese.

A fun tip: host a Vine Talk party – screen the show with friends and have your own wine tastings at home!

*In New York, the series’ broadcasts on THIRTEEN and WLIW21 are sponsored by Fairway Market and Fairway Wines and Spirits.

WNET Ventures into Local News with MetroFocus

March 21st, 2011

Laura van Straaten

It’s official!  As reported in The New York Times blog Media Decoder, local news is coming to WNET this spring with MetroFocus, a new Web venture with the potential to expand to television specials or a monthly or weekly show in the fall (appearing on both THIRTEEN and WLIW21), with a daily version expected to follow.

The MetroFocus team will be led by Laura van Straaten, the project’s editor-in-chief and executive producer.  WNET‘s president and CEO Neal Shapiro feels the show marks a new step for the station.  “One of the futures of public television is making local connections,” he said. “We’ve done a great job of being a national producer; we can do a much better job of being a local producer.”

No Tomorrow: A Q&A with Filmmaker Roger Weisberg

March 17th, 2011

Inside Thirteen recently spoke with Roger Weisberg, producer and director of No Tomorrow, which takes a look at the tragic murder of Risa Bejarano, a principal subject of the recent PBS film Aging Out, and the chilling death penalty trial that followed.

The film delves into the complex reality of the death penalty, compelling viewers to question for themselves the legitimacy of capital punishment as a public policy.

Here, Weisberg discusses what compelled him to make the film and explains how his experience with the trial informed his own opinion of the death penalty.

No Tomorrow airs Monday, March 21 at 9 p.m. on THIRTEEN.

For more about the film, including background information, discussion questions, and other resources, check out the No Tomorrow Viewer’s Guide.

Inside Thirteen: Why did you feel the need to make this film?

Roger Weisberg: About five years ago, PBS broadcast our previous documentary, Aging Out, about teenagers who have to fend for themselves after leaving the foster care system.  One of the principle subjects of that film was Risa Bejarano.  Less than a year after the film was completed, she was brutally murdered, and our film about Risa’s transition out of the foster care system ended up documenting her last year of life.  This documentary initially fell into the hands of the homicide detectives investigating the case, and then into the hands of the district attorney.  When the D.A. opted to pursue the death penalty for Risa’s killer, he decided to use our film in order to heighten sympathy for the victim, Risa Bejarano, and hatred for the defendant. All of a sudden we discovered that our work was being used for a purpose for which we had never intended, and we felt compelled to make a follow-up film about this chilling death penalty case and the role that our film played in the trial.

IT: In the film it is mentioned that the prosecution edited Aging Out to heighten its impact on the jury.  To what extent did you feel the material was manipulated?

RW: The district attorney initially showed the entire film about Risa’s transition from the foster care system to living on her own.  Then, in his closing argument, he re-edited a small portion of the video in order to highlight the happiest moments in Risa’s life – attending her senior prom, participating in her high school graduation, heading off to college with several scholarships.  These uplifting moments were put into a montage, and then the D.A. edited statements that he was able to surreptitiously capture from the defendant in jail where he was bragging about being a killer. The juxtaposition of these comments by the defendant with our imagery of Risa’s accomplishments had a powerful effect on the jurors.  The last image the jurors were left with after he showed this montage was Risa’s bloody body at the crime scene.  We knew that he intended to use our film in the penalty phase of the trial, but we were surprised to learn that he took the liberty of re-editing the film to heighten its impact.

IT: It’s said in the film that there is value to the potential and the message of death row, and Risa’s foster mother says at one point in the film that “if there was more of the death penalty, there wouldn’t be as much crime.” Yet, Juan Chavez does not seem daunted by receiving the death penalty; he almost expects it. What are your thoughts on this – would some other punishment have been more effective for troubled youths like Chavez?

RW: There is a huge debate over whether the death penalty is a deterrent, and that’s what Risa’s foster mother Dolores was hinting at when she suggested that if the death penalty was more broadly applied, there would be less crime. There really is no conclusive proof whatsoever that the death penalty in fact is a deterrent or that young people like Juan Chavez are even aware of the death penalty.

In terms of alternatives, there are two  – the preferable alternative is to be able to reach troubled youths at the first sign that they are going off the rails.  Juan Chavez, much like Risa Bejarano, grew up in an abusive home, suffered from neglect and sexual molestation;  and was surrounded by street gangs, which became the only family that embraced him.  If the juvenile justice system, the mental health system, the educational system, or even the Church was able to reach this young man before his behavior became so pathological, there’s no doubt that there would have been an opportunity to turn him around before he committed this horrible act.  Given that that didn’t happen, the alternative to the death penalty that many states have is the imposition of a penalty of life without parole.  That’s a way of punishing somebody, arguably more severely than putting them to death – having to spend the rest of their life incarcerated with no possibility of parole.  It protects the community forever, and it satisfies the hunger of the public for retribution for these heinous crimes.  So, we do have an alternative to the death penalty that is effective and is vastly less expensive.  It’s kind of counterintuitive, but imposing a sentence of life without parole costs taxpayers significantly less than the death penalty.

IT: Having worked with Risa on Aging Out, do you think she would have been at ease with the outcome of the trial?

RW: Risa was someone who believed in second chances.  She was someone who herself was given a second chance.  The people who knew Risa best, her closest friends, tell us that she never would have supported the death penalty.  Risa’s siblings were all in gangs and caught up in this lifestyle that’s sadly too common in many poor neighborhoods of Los Angeles, and she understood that this environment often leads to violent crime.

IT: Did making this film change your thoughts on capital punishment and the death penalty?

RW: To be honest, I initially was opposed to the death penalty on pure moral grounds, but when Risa was murdered and we dove into this story, I really understood in a new way the impulse to want to punish the perpetrator of this kind of crime in the most severe way possible. I was sympathetic with people who, like Risa’s foster mom, favored the death penalty because she wanted this young man pay for his crime.  Even though I learned to recognize that that’s a very legitimate human response, the more I learned about the administration of the death penalty, the more I became convinced that it is not a legitimate public policy. The way it is administered is just too inaccurate.  There have been so many men and women on death row who have been exonerated.  It’s too costly, it’s too discriminatory, and it doesn’t deter.  For all of those reasons, my initial moral aversion to the death penalty was reinforced by what I learned about the way the death penalty is applied in this country.

IT: How big of a role do you think choice played in the case of Juan Chavez’s life vs. Risa Bejarano’s life?  Is it a question of nature vs. nurture?

RW: A lot of people looking at Risa and Juan Chavez compare the two and argue that Risa grew up in these horrible circumstances but she made choices to improve her life.  Meanwhile, Juan Chavez grew up in equally horrible circumstances, surrounded by abuse and neglect, and made choices that put him squarely down a destructive, murderous path.  I have to question whether Chavez really did have choices.  As one of the experts said, he didn’t choose to be abandoned by his father, he didn’t choose to be abused by his mother, he didn’t choose to go on the streets to find the only family that would accept him.  He didn’t choose to be born with mental health problems.  I think to say that Chavez acted on pure free will and therefore is fully responsible for his actions is an oversimplification that does not take into account the role that his troubled upbringing played in his life.  None of this background excuses his heinous behavior.   I do think that people like Juan Chavez deserve to be severely punished, and the community definitely deserves to be protected from them, but I don’t think that as a society, we deserve to kill him.

IT: What message do you hope viewers will take from this film?

RW: It probably was summed up best by the comment of Bryan Stevenson, who got the last word in the film.  He said that the question is not: does Juan Chavez deserve to die for what he did? – the real question is do we deserve to kill?  So, I think that if you had to boil it down to one single message, I would hope that even those viewers who think that Juan Chavez deserves to die, would conclude that we don’t deserve to kill him – that the application of the death penalty is just too too inaccurate, too unfair, too discriminatory, and too costly for us to continue to have capital punishment in this country.

To date, there have been over 170 community events and screenings of No Tomorrow.  Organizations and schools that are interested can acquire the video for that purpose.

Orion's Live Web Chat with Author David James Duncan

March 1st, 2011

Today at 7 p.m., Orion magazine will host a live Web discussion with author David James Duncan, who will be featured in an upcoming episode of Nature, Salmon: Running the Gauntlet, set to air Sunday,  May 1 at 8 p.m. on THIRTEEN.

The discussion will focus on oil companies hauling oil-production equipment on rivers that may damage the fragile ecosystem and vital salmon habitat.

Duncan will be joined by fellow Orion magazine contributor and author Rick Bass.

Register to join the discussion and learn more.

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