First All-American Mystery! Is An All-Around Success For PBS

Posted by PBS Publicity on

"Skinwalkers," Produced by Robert Redford, Is a Critical Success That Captures a Big Audience

ALEXANDRIA, Va., November 27, 2002 - The verdict is in. PBS's first all-American MYSTERY! is a success with both critics and viewers. Called "cool, high-quality, whodunit fun" by the Detroit Free Press, this film from executive producers Robert Redford, Rebecca Eaton and Michael Nozik earned a 4.2 rating* for its November 24 premiere. Sunday night's audience represents a 147 percent increase over PBS's season-to-date primetime average and continues the upward trend in PBS's viewership this fall.

Based on one of Tony Hillerman's best-selling novels, "Skinwalkers" is the first Native American mystery ever produced for television. The film, which stars Wes Studi (The Last of the Mohicans, Dances with Wolves) and Adam Beach (Windtalkers, Smoke Signals) and is directed by Chris Eyre (Smoke Signals, Skins), tells the story of two Navajo police officers who must capture a brutal murderer who seemingly possesses supernatural powers.

The production also marks the first time in the 22-year history of MYSTERY! that the traditionally British-based series has adapted an American literary work.

"'Skinwalkers' is an excellent example of PBS's strategy 'to keep the best' -- the mystery genre -- 'and reinvent the rest' -- adding American mystery writers to the series," said PBS President and CEO Pat Mitchell. "And by all measurements, the strategy in this case was successful."

"I think the success of 'Skinwalkers' proves that a good story knows no cultural bounds," commented Ms. Eaton, who has served as the Series Executive Producer of both MYSTERY! and EXXONMOBIL MASTERPIECE THEATRE since 1985. "Whether British or American -- a well-told story pleases everyone. That's true diversity."

The fall season has been a strong one for PBS. Since September, primetime viewership of national PBS programming has grown 11 percent over this time last year. The success of PBS's recent schedule prompted today's Orlando Sentinel to comment, "for now, there can be no mystery that during this November sweeps, when the broadcast networks supposedly unveil their big events, that PBS has outdone them all around, from 'Jimmy Carter' to 'Benjamin Franklin' to 'Skinwalkers.'"

"Skinwalkers" is an American MYSTERY! special, a production of Wildwood Enterprises and Granada Entertainment in association with WGBH Boston for the Public Broadcasting Service, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and Carlton International Media. It is presented on PBS by WGBH Boston, and distributed worldwide by Carlton International.

PBS, headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, is a private, nonprofit media enterprise owned and operated by the nation's 350 public television stations. Serving nearly 100 million people each week, PBS enriches the lives of all Americans through quality programs and education services on noncommercial television, the Internet and other media. More information about PBS is available at pbs.org, the leading dot-org Web site on the Internet.

*Average of 50 metered-market stations. Household rating only. Average of 9-10:45 PM, Sunday, November 24, 2002. Qualifications available upon request.


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Jan McNamara, PBS