PBS Announces Second Season of Arts Web Series "Off Book" and Launches Contemporary Culture Series "Idea Channel"

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ARLINGTON, VA; March 7, 2012 – PBS announced today that its successful Web series “Off Book,” which focuses on experimental and non-traditional forms of artistic expression, will begin its second season starting March 7 at youtube.com/pbsoffbook.  In addition, on March 14, PBS will launch “Idea Channel,” an irreverent, personality-driven new series on its own YouTube channel (youtube.com/pbsideachannel) that examines the unique places where art, culture, technology and the Internet intersect.

“These series are part of our strategy to reach new audiences with online video that is compelling and highly sharable,” said Jason Seiken, PBS Senior Vice President, Interactive, Product Development and Innovation. “Our hope is that consumers continue to discover PBS not only as a source for great television content, but also as a source for unique, Web-only video that they can enjoy wherever they are.”

The “Off Book” Web-only short films train a lens on artists working in alternative and often interactive media, as well as on the collective creative movements drawn together through the power of the Internet. Created by New York-based production company Kornhaber Brown, the 13-part, bi-weekly series explores the ever-changing definition of art in the hands of the next generation of artists and their audiences.

“Off Book” topics will include Creative Commons, Anime, Advertising, Sneaker Culture and much more. Season 2 premieres on March 7 with an episode on Animated GIFS, its history and rapid growth to the Internet’s most shared artistic medium. It features interactive fashion photographers Cinemagraphs, Tumblr’s Christopher Price, MemeFactory’s Patrick Davison and artists Reed + Rader.

These new online programs, also available at PBSArts.org, come on the heels of the successful first “Off Book” season, which launched in fall 2011 as part of the PBS Arts initiative. Over the course of its 13-episode run, the series generated more than a half million views on YouTube alone.  Those who watched and shared these pieces were introduced to an eclectic group of artists, producers and technologists working on the cutting edge of a wide array of disciplines, including video games, public art, typography design, meme culture, light painting, and steampunk.

In the new series “Idea Channel,” host Mike Rugnetta explores and challenges some of contemporary culture's most interesting questions. Rugnetta is a composer, programmer and performer, as well as one third of the three-man MemeFactory, a performance group that explores Internet culture.

In easily sharable, bite-sized installments optimized for today’s fast-paced Web culture, “Idea Channel” takes popular icons, products or trends and ties them to established art movements or creations.  For example, one episode will explore Super Mario Bros – the iconic video game – as one of the world’s greatest pieces of surrealist art. In each two-minute clip, Rugnetta’s upbeat, charismatic delivery combines with flashy, entertaining graphics to illustrate his argument. A new “Idea Channel” episode will premiere every other Wednesday.

Funding for these series, part of the PBS Arts initiative, has been provided by Anne Ray Charitable Trust, public television viewers and PBS.

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CONTACTS:  Heath Fradkoff, Goodman Media International, 212-576-2700, PBSProgramming@goodmanmedia.com  Jennifer Byrne, PBS Communications, 703-739-5074, jrbyrne@pbs.org

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