PBS discussed future programming at the Television Critics Association this weekend, during a time that some politicians are threatening to cut funding for the network. During the event, PBS announced several new programs and initiatives that will be launching in 2017 and beyond. These new series will span a wide-array of demographics and topics, ranging from animated stories of understanding and acceptance, to educational series about Art History.
One of the first series detailed at the TCA was “The Great American Read (w.t),” a series that asks readers across the country to find, explore, and discuss America’s best-loved book. The series is scheduled to start in the spring of 2018. Told in an eight-part television series, and accompanied with a nationwide campaign, the series explores the joy of books and the power of reading, all told through the prism of America’s 100 best-loved books. The books are chosen by the public and PBS stated that the series was “Designed to spark a national conversation about reading and the books that have inspired, moved and shaped us.” The show will feature testimonials from notable figures from the entertainment, sports, news and literary worlds, and the series culminates in the first-ever national vote to choose “America’s Best-Loved Book.”
“PBS and its member stations are thrilled to kick off a summer of reading with THE GREAT AMERICAN READ (w.t.), a multi-platform, system-wide initiative that explores and celebrates the diversity of thought, perspective and experiences of America through the lens of our most treasured literary classics and contemporary titles,” said Beth Hoppe, Chief Programming Executive and General Manager, General Audience Programming, PBS. “The time is right for this nationwide reading initiative that will encourage conversations and complementary activities in communities across the country. We can’t wait to see what America chooses!”
“Civilizations” is a PBS and BBC Co-Production, and that series is also set to premiere in the Spring of 2018. This project will be a new nine-part series that tells the story of art from the dawn of human history to the present day — all on a global scale. Inspired by Civilization, Kenneth Clark’s landmark 1969 acclaimed series about Western art, this new series will reveal the role art and the creative imagination have played in the forging of humanity itself, and introduce a new generation to works of beauty, ingenuity and illumination created across cultures and continents.
“This sweeping, visually stunning series follows the thread of creativity through centuries, weaving art and culture, history and humanity,” said Bill Gardner, Vice President, Programming and Development, PBS. “The cultural connections CIVILIZATIONS makes reveal that artistic expression has been a powerful and enlightening force since the beginning of humankind. We’re thrilled to bring viewers this expansive global showcase of art history at its finest, as only PBS can.”
Jonty Claypole, the BBC’s Director of Arts, says: “The BBC is delighted to be partnering with PBS on a series with the scale, ambition and beauty of Civilizations. Questions about how we define civilization and how we make it better are as pertinent as ever in the 21st Century. Through art, we can hold a mirror up to the human condition, across time and geography – both to revel in our collective achievements and to better understand ourselves.”
An animated series was announced at the event as well, called “Luna Around the World“. The show was produced by 9 Story Media Group and created by Emmy Award-winning animator, writer and artist Joe Murray (Rocko’s Modern Life, Camp Lazlo). The series is set to debut nationwide in Fall 2018 on PBS stations, the new 24/7 PBS KIDS channel and PBS KIDS digital platforms. With a social studies curriculum, “Luna Around the World” hopes to encourage kids ages 4-7 to explore and appreciate cultures from all over the world, and build global citizenship and social skills.
“Our approach with LUNA AROUND THE WORLD is to offer engaging stories and adventures that are fun, developmentally appropriate and align with our whole-child approach to content,” said Linda Simensky, Vice President, Children’s Programming, PBS. “Luna is a trusted guide who will encourage children to learn about the world beyond their own neighborhoods. The series seeks to foster an appreciation for cultural diversity, developing social and civic skills and promoting global stewardship.”
“We are thrilled to be working with PBS KIDS and the incredibly talented Joe Murray to bring LUNA AROUND THE WORLD to life,” said Vince Commisso, President & CEO of 9 Story Media Group. “We’ve had the pleasure of working with PBS KIDS over the years on several shows, including DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD, PEG + CAT, WILD KRATTS and NATURE CAT, and it’s exciting to take our partnership to the next level. The PBS KIDS team is best-in-class at what they do, and showcasing LUNA AROUND THE WORLD across their various platforms will have tremendous reach with kids.”