On-Air Highlights

PBS fall season offers array of new series, specials and returning favorites

Written by witf | May 15, 2013 3:14 PM

PBS has announced a fall primetime line-up featuring a strong roster of wide-ranging programs. New highlights of the season include a series of specials commemorating the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s death; programs exploring American heritage from diverse viewpoints; the first PBS Independent Film Showcase; and captivating new dramas. Fall also marks the second PBS Arts Fall Festival, as well as the return (and a premiere) of acclaimed science programs.

PBS pays tribute to President Kennedy on the eve of the 50th anniversary of his assassination with intriguing new takes on the president’s life and death, anchored by “JFK,” a new four-hour, two-part special from AMERICAN EXPERIENCE. A new episode from the science series NOVA, the history-focused SECRETS OF THE DEAD and other specials to be announced complete this special anniversary coverage.

A collection of programs focuses on the diversity of Americans’ ancestries and cultures, including the new unscripted, interactive series GENEALOGY ROADSHOW, which uses history and science to connect participants nationwide to their individual and family histories; LATINO AMERICANS, the first major documentary series for television to chronicle the rich and varied history of Latinos across 500 years; and from executive producer — and Harvard scholar — Henry Louis Gates, Jr. THE AFRICAN AMERICANS: MANY RIVERS TO CROSS, which chronicles the full sweep of black history in the United States.

The arts remain a staple of PBS programming, with the PBS Arts Fall Festival returning for a seven-week run celebrating music and Broadway classics, including NASHVILLE 2.0, a tribute to legendary country stars, a star-studded version of Stephen Sondheim’s musical Company and GREAT PERFORMANCES “Barbra Streisand: Back to Brooklyn,” the superstar’s first Brooklyn concert since her childhood years. The PBS Independent Film Showcase airs this fall with documentaries from INDEPENDENT LENS and POV. GREAT PERFORMANCES premieres its ambitious four-part miniseries “The Hollow Crown,” combining Shakespeare’s Richard II, Henry IV (Parts I & II) and Henry V into a single chronological narrative.

PBS continues to stake out Sunday nights with enthralling dramas from MASTERPIECE, including “Foyle’s War, Series VII” for MASTERPIECE MYSTERY! and “The Paradise,” an adaptation of the beloved French novel by Emile Zola.

Science remains strong this fall, delving into how things are made wilder, faster, colder and safer with the new multi-part NOVA series, “Making Stuff With David Pogue,” and the new four-part series RAW TO READY (working title), which takes viewers inside factories to learn how basic ingredients are transformed into powerhouse machines.

AMERICAN MASTERS premieres “Billie Jean King” (working title), a film about the tennis great on the 40th anniversary of the tennis world’s 1973 Battle of the Sexes and King founding the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), as well as “Jimi Hendrix” (working title) with never-before-seen performance footage, photos, drawings and more. In addition to “JFK,” AMERICAN EXPERIENCE premieres “War of the Worlds,” revisiting the infamous radio dramatization on its 75th anniversary.

“It promises to be an exhilarating fall on PBS, with a vast array of attention-grabbing programming designed to entertain, educate and inspire audiences,” said Beth Hoppe, PBS Chief Programming Executive and General Manager, General Audience Programming. “Among our many new and returning programs and specials are exceptional programs on President Kennedy, in the 50th year following his assassination, from AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, NOVA and SECRETS OF THE DEAD; comprehensive, specials on American heritage that closely examine the rich cultural tapestry of America; and a vibrant slate of arts programming. Our strong fall season covers topics that will be attractive to viewers across all of the genres that made PBS great in the first place.”

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