POLDARK Drama and Unprecedented Look at Sea Life in BIG BLUE LIVE Spark PBS’ 2015 Summer Season
Image: MASTERPIECE "Poldark," Shown from left to right: Eleanor Tomlinson as Demelza and Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark (credit: courtesy of Robert Viglasky/Mammoth Screen for MASTERPIECE)
– Highlights Include New Dramas, Atomic Bomb 70 Years Later, Indie Films
and Fresh Lineup of Science, Nature and History Programs –
ARLINGTON, VA; May 7, 2015 – PBS’ 2015 wide-ranging summer season lineup launches with the premiere of a new version of the romantic saga POLDARK ON MASTERPIECE (watch a clip here) and culminates with BIG BLUE LIVE, a first-time, live-event co-production with the BBC documenting the late-summer confluence of whales, and other sea life, as it is happening in Monterey Bay, California. This summer marks the third season of the award-winning LAST TANGO IN HALIFAX, season two of the British comedy VICIOUS with Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi, and two new science and nature miniseries in PBS’ “Think Wednesday” programming block: FIRST PEOPLES (watch a clip here), which chronicles how Homo sapiens became the dominant human species, and LIFE ON THE REEF (watch a clip here), which dives deep into the inner world of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. And, as the country marks the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination and the end of the Civil War, PBS announced that THE CIVIL WAR, the award-winning film produced and directed by Ken Burns, will be rebroadcast over five consecutive nights in September 2015. The broadcast, coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the original broadcast of THE CIVIL WAR in September 1990, will present a newly restored high-definition version.
New thought-provoking specials THE BOMB and URANIUM – TWISTING THE DRAGON’S TAIL provide fascinating insights into the first detonation of the atomic bomb on its 70th anniversary and the lasting impacts of the nuclear age; four years after one of history’s worst nuclear accidents, NOVA “Nuclear Meltdown Disaster” reveals the minute-by-minute story of Japan’s nuclear energy crisis and its ongoing aftermath. POV returns with engrossing documentaries from the world’s best independent filmmakers telling intimate stories and exploring current issues in such films as “Out in the Night,” “Tough Love” and “The Overnighters.” Also back this summer is the popular Independence Day celebration A CAPITOL FOURTH (performers to be announced), as well as Friday night arts programming and new episodes of FRONTLINE on Tuesdays.
“We’re breaking new ground on PBS this summer,” says Beth Hoppe, PBS Chief Programming Executive and General Manager, General Audience Programming. “Our first live TV event with the BBC, BIG BLUE LIVE promises to be an amazing in-the-moment program about a once-a-year confluence of marine life in California’s Monterey Bay. Back on land, FIRST PEOPLES will rivet viewers interested in the history of humans on Earth. We also have a not-to-be-missed drama, with a fresh new version of POLDARK ON MASTERPIECE, one of our best-remembered and most-requested programs.”
In addition, the fourth annual PBS Online Film Festival will return this summer from June 15 through July 17. The festival, which was recently nominated for a 2015 Webby Award, features diverse short-form films from PBS member stations, public media partners and independent filmmakers. Titles featured in this year’s festival will be announced in the coming weeks.
British comedies and dramas continue to hold court Sunday nights on PBS. The seven-part classic romance POLDARK ON MASTERPIECE, a swashbuckling new adaptation of the iconic hit series, premieres June 21. The re-imagined saga stars Aidan Turner (The Hobbit) as the dashing squire Ross Poldark and includes original “Poldark” protagonist Robin Ellis as Reverend Halse. The World War I nursing drama THE CRIMSON FIELD follows POLDARK on June 21. Viewers are treated to a double-dose of British life with season three of the award-winning LAST TANGO IN HALIFAX, premiering on June 28, and season two of VICIOUS, starring Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi, on August 23.
On Mondays, independent films return June 15 with INDEPENDENT LENS “Limited Partnership,” documenting the front lines in the battle for legal immigration status for same-sex spouses. The acclaimed documentary series POV premieres its 28th season June 22 with 10 new specials, including the award-winning, crowd-funded film “Out in the Night,” which examines the role that race, gender identity and sexuality play in the criminal justice system, “Tough Love,” the riveting story of two parents navigating America’s child welfare system after being deemed unfit, and the Sundance Award-winning “The Overnighters,” an unforgettable story of the dark side of America’s oil boom. Also on Mondays, ANTIQUES ROADSHOW “Vintage” episodes, hosted by Mark L. Walberg, look at memorable objects originally appraised 15 years ago to disclose their current value and market changes, beginning June 15. BIG BLUE LIVE, a live, three-part co-production with BBC that documents the amazing confluence of whales, sharks, sea lions, seals and otters in California’s Monterey Bay, bows August 31.
On Tuesdays, PBS continues to offer timely, relevant programs that look at history and the human experience. Two two-hour programs coincide with the 70th anniversary of the first explosion of an atomic bomb and the bombing of Hiroshima: THE BOMB, a history of nuclear weapons and how they shaped our world, premieres July 28; URANIUM – TWISTING THE DRAGON’S TAIL, premiering July 28, is an epic adventure with physicist and YouTube sensation Dr. Derek Muller to find the most desired and hated rock on Earth. AMERICAN EXPERIENCE “Blackout” commemorates the anniversary of the New York City blackout, 38 years to the day on July 14. In a two-hour special on July 21, from the perspective of space, HUMANITY FROM SPACE traces mankind’s journey from hunter-gatherer to dominant species. From the producers of “JFK: One PM Central Standard Time” comes “JFK & LBJ,” commemorating the 50th anniversary of the landmark Voting Rights Act, on August 4.
“Think Wednesday,” PBS’ primetime lineup of extraordinary nature and science programming, returns with FIRST PEOPLES on June 24. The five-part human diaspora story travels across the world to tell the continuously unfolding story of our early human ancestors. On July 22, the three-part LIFE ON THE REEF examines the breathtaking beauty of one of the richest and most complex natural ecosystems on earth, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. OPERATION WILD (watch a clip here), beginning July 1, follows veterinarians around the world as they undertake groundbreaking operations to save animals’ lives. On July 15, NOVA “Chasing Pluto” features the first-ever detailed images from spacecraft New Horizon’s historic flyby of Pluto. NOVA “Nuclear Meltdown Disaster,” on July 29, pays homage to the brave workers who stayed behind as an earthquake and tsunami crippled the nuclear power plant in one of history’s worst nuclear accidents.
The arts remain a cornerstone of PBS’ primetime schedule on Fridays and The Metropolitan Opera presents the effervescent operetta “The Merry Widow” on June 19. NATIONAL GALLERY, on August 21, guides the audience behind the scenes of a London institution, on a journey to the heart of a museum inhabited by masterpieces of Western art from the Middle Ages to the 19th century. Award-winning biography series AMERICAN MASTERS returns September 4 with a portrait of Althea Gibson, the first African-American tennis player to play and win at Wimbledon and the U.S. Nationals (precursor of the U.S. Open).
Below is a chronological look at PBS’ summer primetime programming:
JUNE ON PBS:
INDEPENDENT LENS “Limited Partnership”
In 1975, when American Richard married Australian native Tony in one of the first same-sex marriages performed in the U.S., they found themselves on the front lines in the battle for legal immigration status for same sex spouses. -- Monday, June 15, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET
GREAT PERFORMANCES AT THE MET “The Merry Widow”
Broadway director and choreographer Susan Stroman makes her Met debut with a lavish new English translation of Franz Lehár’s sparkling operetta, with star soprano Renée Fleming as Hanna, the wealthy widow, Nathan Gunn as her lover Danilo, Broadway star Kelli O’Hara as the coquettish Valencienne and more. Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato hosts. -- Friday, June 19, 9:00-11:30 p.m. ET
POLDARK ON MASTERPIECE
Ross Poldark rides again in a swashbuckling new adaptation of the hit series that helped launch MASTERPIECE in the 1970s. Aidan Turner (The Hobbit) stars as Captain Poldark, a redcoat who returns to Cornwall after the American Revolution and finds that his fighting days are far from over. Robin Ellis, who played Poldark in the 1970s PBS adaptation, appears in the role of Reverend Halse. Eleanor Tomlinson (MASTERPIECE “Death Comes to Pemberley”) plays the spunky Cornish miner’s daughter taken in by the gallant captain. -- Sundays, June 21-July 26, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET; and August 2, 9:00-11:00 p.m. ET
LAST TANGO IN HALIFAX, Season 3
The third season of this award-winning series continues to celebrate love and life as the reunited childhood sweethearts Celia (Anne Reid) and Alan (Derek Jacobi) plan to make the most of their time together when a surprise visitor stops them in their tracks. -- Sundays, June 28-August 2, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET
The award-winning POV (a cinema term for “point of view”) is the longest-running showcase on American television to feature the work of today’s best independent filmmakers. -- Mondays, June 22-August 31, 10:00 p.m. ET
“Out in the Night”
Witness the uphill battle of a group of African-American lesbians charged with attempted murder when they fought back after being threatened by a man on a New York street. The case reveals the role that race, gender identity and sexuality play in the criminal justice system. -- Monday, June 22, 10:00 p.m. ET
In a North Dakota town where the oil business is booming, many find slim work prospects and a severe housing shortage. Pastor Jay Reinke converts his church into a makeshift dorm and counseling center, allowing hundreds of men, some with checkered pasts, to stay despite the congregation’s objections and neighbors’ fears. When opposition to the “overnighters” reaches a boiling point, Pastor Jay makes a decision with shattering consequences. A modern-day Grapes of Wrath, “The Overnighters” tells an electrifying story about the promise of redemption and the limits of compassion. Winner, Special Jury Award for Intuitive Filmmaking: Documentary, 2014 Sundance Film Festival. -- Monday, June 29, 10:00 p.m. ET
Having lost custody of their children to Child Protective Services, two parents acknowledge their past parenting mistakes, due to poverty, poor choices and addiction, as they fight to win back the trust of the courts and reunite their families in Stephanie Wang-Breal’s moving film. -- Monday, July 6, 10:00 p.m. ET
Internet addiction has been declared a national health crisis in China, the first country in the world to classify this evolving diagnosis. For “Web Junkie,” Israeli filmmakers Shosh Shlam and Hilla Medalia gained extraordinary access to a three-month military-style rehab program in Beijing, illuminating a process that, while stern, may help set a standard as the wider world comes to grips with the devastating consequences of excessive internet use. -- Monday, July 13, 10:00 p.m. ET
“Return to Homs”
Basset Saroot, former star of the Syrian national soccer team, went from peaceful advocate of Arab Spring reforms to armed insurgent. The Sundance award-winning “Return to Homs” follows 19-year-old Basset and his ragtag group’s transformation and struggles in an unprecedented, heart-stopping look at the brutal war President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has waged against the Syrian people. -- Monday, July 20, 10:00 p.m. ET
For five Chilean women, a monthly gathering has sustained them through 60 years of personal and societal change. “Tea Time,” filmed over five years, is a charming and poignant look at how a seemingly mundane routine of tea and pastries, a celebration of the small things, has helped the well-heeled participants commemorate life’s joys and cope with infidelity, illness and death. -- Monday, July 27, 10:00 p.m. ET
“Beats of Antonov”
Sudan has been in an almost constant state of civil war since it achieved independence in 1956, and it split into a pair of sovereign states in 2011. On the border between the two, Russian-made Antonov planes indiscriminately drop bombs on settlements in the Nuba Mountains below. Yetthe people of the Blue Nile respond to adversity with music, singing and dancing to celebrate their survival. “Beats of the Antonov” explores how music binds a community, offering hope and a common identity for refugees engaged in a fierce battle to protect cultural traditions and heritage from those trying to obliterate them. Winner, Grolsch People’s Choice Documentary Award, 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.-- Monday, August 3, 10:00 p.m. ET
Meet the students in Mr. Zingg’s integration class, young people who have left their families and countries in search of a better life in Switzerland. “Neuland” (“New Territory”) follows these adolescent migrants from Afghanistan, Cameroon, Serbia and Venezuela over two years as they struggle to learn a new language, prepare themselves for employment and reveal their innermost hopes and dreams. -- Monday, August 17, 10:00 p.m. ET
“Point and Shoot”
Matt VanDyke, a timid 26-year-old with obsessive-compulsive disorder, left home in Baltimore in 2006 for what he called a “crash course in manhood.” He bought a motorcycle and a video camera and set off to film himself on a multi-year, 35,000-mile odyssey through North Africa and the Middle East. When revolution broke out in Libya, he joined the rebels fighting Muammar Gaddafi, but was captured, sending his adventure in a frightening new direction. “Point and Shoot” joins Matt’s wild ride, exploring how, in the age of the selfie, we use cameras not just to capture our stories, but to craft them. -- Monday, August 24, 10:00 p.m. ET
“The Storm Makers”
This chilling exposé of Cambodia’s human trafficking underworld weaves the story of Aya, a young peasant sold into slavery at age 16, with that of two powerful traffickers (known as “storm makers” for the havoc they wreak). The documentary is an eye-opening look at the cycle of poverty, despair and greed that fuels this brutal modern slave trade. -- Monday, August 31, 10:00 p.m. ET
See how the mixing of ancient human genes helped us survive and thrive around the globe. Developments in genetics, archaeology and anthropology cast new light on 200,000 years of history, detailing how Homo sapiens came to be the dominant human species. -- Wednesdays, June 24-July 1, 9:00-11:00 p.m. ET and July 8, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET
THE CRIMSON FIELD
Oona Chaplin (“Game of Thrones,” “The Hour”) stars in a drama about WWI’s frontline medics — their hopes, fears, triumphs and tragedies. In a tented field hospital on the coast of France, a team of doctors, nurses and women volunteers works together to heal the bodies and souls of men wounded in the trenches. The hospital is a frontier: between the battlefield and home front, but also between the old rules, hierarchies and a new way of thinking. Each of the six episodes follows the lives of volunteer nurses Kitty Trevelyan (Chaplin) and Sister Joan Livesey (Suranne Jones) as they tend to British soldiers, troops from all over the world and even local civilians. Also starring Hermione Norris, Kevin Doyle, Kerry Fox and Marianne Oldham. -- Sundays, June 21-July 26, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET
In new “Vintage” episodes, ANTIQUES ROADSHOW looks at memorable objects originally appraised 15 years ago to disclose their current value and how the market has changed. The “Vintage” episodes include St. Louis, Sacramento, Denver, Tulsa, Las Vegas, Madison and Charleston. Mark L. Walberg hosts. -- Mondays, June 15-July 27, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET
1913: SEEDS OF CONFLICT
Explore the seeds of today’s Middle East conflict, sown in pre-World War I Ottoman Palestine. By weaving together Arab and Jewish histories, the film dispels old myths and provides fresh insights into dramatic events that presaged a century of unrest. -- Tuesday, June 30, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET
JULY ON PBS:
Veterinary teams around the world undertake groundbreaking operations to save animals’ lives in some of the most remote places on earth. OPERATION WILD tells the remarkable stories of animals in need and the caregivers who push the bounds of veterinary medicine to help them. -- Wednesdays, July 1-15, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET
A CAPITOL FOURTH (2015)
Celebrating 35 spectacular years on air, A CAPITOL FOURTH kicks off the country’s 239th birthday with an all-star musical extravaganza that puts viewers front and center for the greatest display of fireworks anywhere in the nation. America’s favorite Independence Day celebration is broadcast live from the West Lawn of the United States Capitol, before a concert audience of hundreds of thousands, millions more at home, and on the American Forces Network, to our troops serving around the world. -- Saturday, July 4, 8:00-9:30 p.m. ET; encore 9:30-11:00 p.m. ET
AMERICAN EXPERIENCE “Blackout”
Look back at what happened in New York City the night the lights went out in the summer of 1977, plunging seven million people into darkness. The event led to both horrifying lawlessness and acts of selflessness and generosity. -- Tuesday, July 14, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET
NOVA captures New Horizon’s historic flyby of Pluto, the culmination of the spacecraft’s nine-year, three-billion-mile journey to reveal the first-ever detailed images of this strange, icy world at the very edge of our solar system. -- Wednesday, July 15, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET
“Nuclear Meltdown Disaster”
Four years after one of history’s worst nuclear accidents, NOVA reveals the minute-by-minute story of the Fukushima nuclear crisis and its ongoing aftermath, told by the brave workers who stayed behind as an earthquake and tsunami crippled the plant. -- Wednesday, July 29, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET
“Dudamel Conducts a John Williams Celebration With the Los Angeles Philharmonic”
This gala celebration of one of the greatest composers of all time reunites John Williams with master violinist Itzhak Perlman and features music director Gustavo Dudamel leading the LA Philharmonic in performances of Williams’ “Olympic Fanfare and Theme,” “Soundings,” selections from Schindler’s List and Fiddler on the Roof, The Empire Strikes Back (with Williams conducting) and Star Wars. Natalie Portman hosts. -- Friday, July 24, 9:00-11:00 p.m. ET
On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the dawn of the nuclear age, PBS presents THE BOMB. Using newly restored pristine footage, some of which has only recently been declassified, the program tells the story of the most powerful and destructive invention in human history, from the first atomic bomb to today: how it was developed, how it changed everything and how it continues to shape our lives. Hear from scientists, weapons designers, pilots who dropped nuclear bombs, former Secretaries of Defense and State, witnesses to nuclear explosions, historians and ordinary men and women who have lived and worked with The Bomb. -- Tuesday, July 28, 8:00-10:00 p.m. ET
HUMANITY FROM SPACE
From the perspective of space, a new science special traces mankind’s journey from hunter-gatherer to dominant global species. With mind-bending data and CGI, the program shows how we have transformed our planet and produced a world of extraordinary complexity. – Tuesday, July 21, 8:00-10:00 p.m. ET
LIFE ON THE REEF
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the richest and most complex natural ecosystems on earth — home to a stunning array of animals, from microscopic plankton to 100-ton whales. From the coral cays of the outer reef to the islands of the Torres Strait, the reef’s human residents work to find that critical balance between our needs and those of an ever-diminishing natural world. The three-part miniseries presents a unique and fresh angle on Australia’s greatest natural icon, seen through the eyes of those who live, work and play in this natural wonderland. -- Wednesdays, July 22-August 5, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET
URANIUM - TWISTING THE DRAGON’S TAIL
Host and physicist Dr. Derek Muller unlocks the mysteries of uranium, one of the Earth’s most controversial elements. Born from the collapse of a star, uranium has brought hope, progress and destruction, revolutionizing society, medicine and warfare. It has profoundly shaped the past, will change the future and will exist long after humans have left the Earth. Filmed on five continents, this two-hour program delivers a gripping story of an ancient element’s footprint on the world. -- Tuesday, July 28, and Wednesday, July 29, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET
AUGUST ON PBS:
JFK & LBJ: A TIME FOR GREATNESS
Fifty years after Lyndon Johnson signed two of the most important laws Congress ever approved — the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act 1965 — this documentary examines how the president worked behind the scenes to transform America. Five decades later, those who were closest to him reveal all; together, they paint a picture that casts Lyndon Baines Johnson — chiefly remembered today for the disastrous war in Vietnam — in a new light. -- Tuesday, August 4, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET
National Gallery takes the audience behind the scenes of a London institution, on a journey to the heart of a museum inhabited by masterpieces of Western art from the Middle Ages to the 19th century. -- Friday, August 21- Saturday, August 22, 9:00 p.m.-12:01 am ET
VICIOUS, Season 2
Partners Freddie (Ian McKellen) and Stuart (Derek Jacobi) have lived together in a small central London flat for nearly 50 years. Constantly picking each other apart and holding on to petty slights for decades, Freddie and Stuart are always at each other’s throats, making snide remarks aimed at the other’s age, appearance and flaws. However, underneath their vicious, co-dependent fighting, they share a deep love. Freddie and Stuart are joined by feisty best friend Violet (Frances de la Tour), and their young neighbor Ash (Iwan Rheon). -- Sundays, August 23-September 27, 10:30-11:00 p.m. ET
GREAT PERFORMANCES “Vienna Philharmonic Summer Night Concert 2015”
Each summer, the renowned Vienna Philharmonic performs an enchanting open-air concert, under the direction of a guest conductor, from the magnificent gardens of Austria’s Imperial Schönbrunn Palace, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. Zubin Mehta conducts, with acclaimed pianist Rudolf Buchbinder as soloist. The concert will include works by Edvard Grieg, Jean Sibelius, Richard Strauss and Johann Strauss II. -- Friday, August 28, 9:00-11:00 p.m. ET
BIG BLUE LIVE
Some of the world’s most charismatic marine creatures gather in a once-a-year confluence off the coast of California in the magnificent Monterey Bay, once endangered, but now rejuvenated. At this year’s gathering, they are joined by scientists, filmmakers, photographers and other experts in a live TV and multi-media event — a first for PBS — to document the natural history of one the world’s most extraordinary marine protected areas. -- Monday-Wednesday, August 31-September 2, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET
PREVIEW OF SEPTEMBER ON PBS:
AMERICAN MASTERS “Althea”
Discover the story of Althea Gibson (1927-2003), a truant from the rough streets of Harlem, who emerged as the unlikely queen of the highly segregated tennis world in the 1950s. Bringing a fierce athleticism to the game, she was the first African American to play and win at Wimbledon and the U.S. Nationals — a decade before Arthur Ashe. The documentary explores Gibson’s roots as a sharecropper’s daughter, her family’s migration north to Harlem in the 30s and her mentoring by boxer Sugar Ray Robinson, former New York City mayor David Dinkins and others. Interviewees include Dinkins, Wimbledon champion Dick Savitt and Billie Jean King, who also serves as one of the film’s executive producers. -- Friday, September 4, 9:00-10:30 p.m. ET
THE CIVIL WAR 25th ANNIVERSARY
THE CIVIL WAR, the award-winning film produced and directed by Ken Burns, will be rebroadcast over five consecutive nights in September 2015. The broadcast, which coincides with the 25th anniversary of THE CIVIL WAR’s initial broadcast in September 1990, will present for the first time a newly restored high-definition version. This is the first time the film will be seen with the same fidelity and framing as the negative that Burns and his co-cinematographers Allen Moore and Buddy Squires shot more than 25 years ago. -- September 2015
Following their on-air broadcasts, these programs will also be available for streaming through PBS stations’ video sites, and PBS station-branded digital platforms, including ROKU, Apple TV, Xbox and FireTV.
PBS LearningMedia will expand its digital library of more than 100,000 resources for educators and students to support the variety of shows debuting on PBS this summer. Additional content includes videos, lesson plans and interactives from BIG BLUE LIVE, FIRST PEOPLES, LIFE ON THE REEF, Ken Burns’ CIVIL WAR, THE BOMB, and URANIUM - TWISTING THE DRAGON’S TAIL to support classroom integration. For more information on the latest digital resources for classroom instruction, please visit pbslearningmedia.org.
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