PBS Unveils New Limited Series For Teens, Documentary On Sigmund Freud's Early Life, And Conclusion To "New York"

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Pasadena, Calif. - January 14, 2001 - Underscoring its commitment to programming geared to teens, PBS today unveiled a new 13-part documentary series, SENIOR YEAR, filmed in one of the most diverse high schools in Los Angeles. Also announced were a new series on Sigmund Freud's early life from award-winning producer David Grubin and the much-anticipated conclusion to Ric Burns' NEW YORK.

"We're delighted to build on our teen programming initiative with SENIOR YEAR, a program aimed at both teens and their families," said Pat Mitchell, PBS president and chief executive officer. "We think this series, which captures that pivotal time when young people graduate and enter the 'adult' world, will reflect the rich texture of teenagers' lives today in a lively and very real way. This look at urban teens program will be a perfect complement to the suburban portraits in AMERICAN HIGH, which premieres in April.

"And it's always a pleasure to announce new programs from esteemed filmmakers David Grubin and Ric Burns," she continued, "who are known for bringing complex subjects to life with imaginative film techniques and compelling narratives."

SENIOR YEAR, presented by KCET/Hollywood and tentatively slated for fall 2001, follows the lives and stories of 15 diverse kids through their last year at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles, one of the largest school systems in the country. Fairfax is distinguished as a magnet school for visual arts with innovative programs for gay, lesbian and disabled students. The documentary project is executive produced and written by award-winning filmmaker David Zeiger, who enlisted a team of six recent graduates from the UCLA and USC film schools - themselves only a few years older than their subjects - to document the high schoolers' 1999/2000 senior year.

Mr. Zeiger's strategy, developed through several months of pre-interviews with the students and a spirit of collaboration with the young production team, is to present a series that comes directly from the kids themselves, for whom diversity is not a political issue but normal, everyday life. SENIOR YEAR will present the students' world as they see it, chronicling their ups and downs and the twists and turns their dreams take, with the humor and drama that inevitably go with it. The team effort will extend to the music, which will include original songs by the multi-cultural Los Angeles band Ozomatli, jazz legend Oscar Brown, Jr., and L.A. hip-hop band Dilated Peoples. For young people, the series will put their own lives, issues and accomplishments on the screen; for adults, it will be a chance to step into the world of teenagers and learn what they are thinking and feeling.

The 13-part series will consist of 12 half-hour episodes and a one-hour conclusion that includes a "Where are they now?" epilogue. There will be an extensive Web site on PBS.org with interactive features. The teens of SENIOR YEAR include Jean and Maria, a multi-ethnic couple whose relationship endures despite family turmoil; Jet, a gay student from the Philippines who juggles his roles as cheerleader and ROTC cadet; Kendra, disabled and at war with her special ed program; Derard, a heavily recruited African-American football star who copes with crushing defeats; Elizabeth, caught in the middle between the demands of American culture and her traditional Korean upbringing; and Boris, a Russian immigrant and top student whose loner status hides the demons with which he struggles.

SENIOR YEAR is produced by Displaced Films; David Zeiger and Aaron Zarrow are producers; Eric Mofford is co-producer. Zeiger and Mofford's work for PBS includes "Displaced in the New South," which looked at the lives of immigrant laborers in the Atlanta area. Mr. Zeiger's credits include the award-winning "The Band" for POV and the upcoming documentary "Funny Old Guys." Mr. Zarrow recently was associate producer for the 1998 Academy Award-winning feature documentary "The Last Days." SENIOR YEAR is funded in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the National Asian American Telecommunications Association and Latino Public Broadcasting.

The two-hour YOUNG DOCTOR FREUD looks at the early life of Sigmund Freud and the development of the revolutionary psychoanalytic ideas that have become part of the fabric of 20th century life and thought. It will cover the years from Freud's birth (1856) to the publication of his explosive The Interpretation of Dreams (1900) with its shocking new theories about the unconscious. Acclaimed producer/director/writer David Grubin (Napoleon, Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided) will explore the connections between Freud's theories and his struggles to heal his patients and himself.

Filmed on location in Europe, the program will combine original cinematography and expert commentary with Freud's photos and words. It will use impressionistic recreations of dreams and memories to convey his attempts to come to terms with his own demons and cure his patients' physical and psychological ailments.

Like all great innovators, Freud was limited by his circumstances and the times in which he lived, yet he fashioned a revolutionary geography of the mind that continues to command our attention today, even as experts question many of his claims and stake out new territories of their own. YOUNG DOCTOR FREUD is a David Grubin production in association with PBS and Devillier Donegan Enterprises (DDE). The program is funded by the CPB and DDE.

This fall, PBS will present the final four hours of the landmark series NEW YORK: A DOCUMENTARY FILM, which traces the city's remarkable rise from the arrival of the Dutch in the early 17th century to the present day. The 14-hour series, a special presentation of AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, premiered in November 1999 with five, two-hour episodes. It is directed by Ric Burns, produced by Lisa Ades, Steve Rivo and Ric Burns, and written by Ric Burns and James Sanders.

The sixth two-hour episode of NEW YORK picks up in 1929 and traces the spectacular and often troubling changes that overtook New York during the period of the Great Depression and World War II. As the city and its people faced unprecedented economic and social upheaval, new solutions and characters emerged which forever changed the physical landscape of the city. The seventh episode then chronicles the history of New York from the end of the Second World War to today, exploring the complexities of the modern city and the turbulent years of physical, social and cultural change in the decades following the war.

The companion Web site on PBS.org features "Hidden New York," a virtual jaunt through the five boroughs that uses QuickTime VR to give a fresh perspective on familiar landmarks; an interactive taxi ride quiz game; and an educational exploration of the history of New York entitled "Learning Adventures in Citizenship."

NEW YORK: A DOCUMENTARY FILM, a special presentation of AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, is a production of Steeplechase Films in association with WGBH Boston, Thirteen/WNET New York, and the New-York Historical Society. Major support for the series is provided by The Chase Manhattan Corporation; The National Endowment for the Humanities; The Ford Foundation Inc.; CPB; Public Television Viewers and PBS; Arthur Vining Davis Foundations; Rosalind P. Walter; The Henry Luce Foundation, Inc., and The Starr Foundation.

PBS, headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, is a private, nonprofit media enterprise owned and operated by the nation's 347 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.


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Cathy Lehrfeld
(in Pasadena: 626-568-3900)

Michael Turner