"Public Square," A Multi-Media Collaboration Of PBS And CPB, To Create A "National Conversation" On Topics Ranging From Politics To Popular Culture

Posted by PBS Publicity on

-- Weekly Series to Feature Segments from PBS Stations Around the Country --

Pasadena, CA - January 15, 2001 - Public Square (w.t.), a major new multi-media endeavor of public broadcasting organizations, is currently in development, announced Pat Mitchell, president and CEO of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), and Robert Coonrod, president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). A centerpiece of the initiative is a two-hour weekly television series covering the arts, politics, economics, music, history, science and popular culture, as well as performance. It is expected to debut early in 2002.

A major Internet site will accompany the television broadcast, and participating PBS member stations will offer complementary local initiatives as part of a nationwide community-based outreach effort.

Combining interviews, analysis, documentary segments, investigative reports, music, comedy, performances and significant Web components, the weekly series will be produced by a new non-profit organization under the leadership of Michael Sullivan, currently executive producer of FRONTLINE. It will utilize the combined resources of PBS and its member stations, as well as independent producers.

"The series will be designed to put public broadcasting at the forefront of new ideas and current thinking," said Ms. Mitchell. "By drawing upon our public affairs and popular culture producers, and a diverse array of other talent and perspectives, Public Square will convene a lively and interactive national conversation."

"We are proud to be a part of this effort, which I hope is the start of a whole new approach to public affairs programming," said Mr. Coonrod. "Public Square will be public television' answer to reality TV - a place where real people discuss real problems and begin the dialogues that lead to real solutions. We are delighted that Michael Sullivan has agreed to lead this effort."

The Public Square initiative, which was initially developed at CPB and in brainstorming sessions with station producers at PBS, is designed to strengthen the "citizenship" aspect of public broadcasting's mission, exploring what it means to be an American today. The planned program will be hosted and feature regular contributors, with segments from filmmakers, producers and reporters around the country. Its comprehensive Internet features and outreach will extend the impact of the program far beyond the broadcast.

Michael Sullivan was promoted to executive producer for FRONTLINE in 1996, after serving eight years as the series' senior producer. During his tenure, Mr. Sullivan has overseen dozens of FRONTLINE projects, including: the acclaimed "The Gulf War" and "The Farmer's Wife" mini-series; the investigation of the Rwanda genocide, "The Triumph of Evil," winner of Peabody, Emmy, and duPont-Columbia Awards; "The Killer at Thurston High"; "John Paul II: The Millennial Pope"; and most recently "The Choice 2000," a dual biography of George W. Bush and Al Gore, and "The Clinton Years," a FRONTLINE-NIGHTLINE collaboration.

"This unexpected opportunity to create a major new strand for public television, and a fresh new vision of what public affairs media could be, proved to be irresistible," said Mr. Sullivan. "I look forward to collaborating with my colleagues throughout public broadcasting in the development of this new program."

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.


- PBS -


Harry Forbes
(in Pasadena: 626-568-3900)

Michael Turner

Jeannie Bunton
(in Pasadena: 626-568-3900)