PBS Announces New Programs and Initiatives at TCA Winter Press Tour Including John Leguizamo’s “American Historia”

PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger introduced the Public Broadcasting Service’s Winter TCA Press Tour with some exciting announcements about upcoming programming and initiatives. See a quick list here and keep scrolling for expanded details on each project.

AMERICAN Experience “The Sun Queen

AMERICAN Experience “The Sun Queen

PBS Winter TCA Press Tour Programming Announcements:

  • AMERICAN EXPERIENCE “The Sun Queen” – April 4th
  • NOVA "Weathering the Future" – April 12th
  • Changing Planet II – April 19th
  • NOVA "Chasing Carbon Zero" April 26th
  • American Historia – August 29th
  • Human Footprint – July 5th
  • America Outdoors with Baratunde Thurston Season 2 – Summer
  • The American Buffalo – October 16th & 17th
  • AMERICAN EXPERIENCE “Boston School Battle” – Fall
  • AMERICAN EXPERIENCE “The Harvest” Premiere – Fall
  • NOVA “Ancient Earth” – Fall
  • Dynamic Planet – Fall
  • Evolution Earth – Fall
  • PBS KIDS’ Lyla in the Loop – Early 2024
  • PBS KIDS’ Weather Hunters – TBA

PBS Announces Unprecedented Multiyear Commitment to Environmental and Climate Programming

  • Today at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour, PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger announced the launch of an unprecedented environmental and climate programming initiative that explores impacts on the country and planet. The comprehensive effort marks a bold commitment to bring together the very best in science, history and news programming in 2023 and beyond. Building on more than 200 hours of climate and environmental content currently available across its various platforms, PBS and its member stations will focus on the challenges of a changing climate while highlighting examples of positive impact.
  • The broad slate of programs will explore climate change from a diversity of perspectives and include new productions such as HUMAN FOOTPRINT; returning series such as Season Two of AMERICA OUTDOORS WITH BARATUNDE THURSTON, currently in development from Twin Cities PBS; climate-focused programs from award-winning PBS series NOVA and NATURE; journalistic storytelling from FRONTLINE and PBS NEWSHOUR; digital-first series from PBS Digital Studios including WEATHERED; and station-led efforts such as WNET Group’s “Peril & Promise.” Today, PBS also announced at TCA a new PBS KIDS series produced by Al Roker Entertainment — WEATHER HUNTERS — which will help further young viewers’ interest and knowledge of Earth science and meteorology, both key building blocks of climate education.
  • “Our longstanding commitment to science and factual programming, combined with the local reach of our member stations, puts us in a unique position to take on this topic,” said Paula Kerger, President and CEO of PBS. “These extraordinary stories, told across multiple PBS platforms, will bring understanding and hope to audiences.”
  • The initiative kicks off in April for Earth Month with a special multiplatform slate of programs that will be available on PBS, PBS.org and the PBS app.
  • AMERICAN EXPERIENCE “The Sun Queen” – Tuesday, April 4, 9:00 p.m. ET – For nearly 50 years, chemical engineer and inventor Mária Telkes applied her prodigious intellect to harnessing the sun’s power. She designed and built the world’s first successfully solar-heated home in 1948. Along the way she was undercut and thwarted by her male colleagues at MIT.
  • NOVA “Climate Across America” Campaign – April 2023
    • Climate Change is a global problem, but the varied impacts are felt locally. This spring, NOVA will lead a national campaign — “Climate Across America” — spotlighting how climate change is affecting communities across the country and the innovative solutions being implemented to address the climate crisis. The campaign includes two programs:
    • NOVA “Weathering the Future” – Wednesday, April 12, 9:00 p.m. ET – It’s hard not to notice: our weather is changing. From longer, hotter heat waves, to more intense rainstorms, to megafires and multiyear droughts, the U.S. is experiencing the full range of impacts from a changing global climate. At the same time, many on the front lines of these destabilizing weather trends are fighting back — innovating solutions, marshaling ancient wisdom and developing visionary ideas. The lessons they're learning today can help all of us adapt in the years ahead as the planet gets warmer and our weather more extreme.
    • NOVA “Chasing Carbon Zero” – Wednesday, April 26, 9:00 p.m. ET – The U.S. recently set an ambitious climate change goal: to achieve 100% zero carbon pollution by 2050. And to achieve that: slash emissions in half by 2030. But is that even feasible? What exactly would it take? “Chasing Carbon Zero” takes a hard look at the problem and identifies the most likely real-world technologies that could be up to the task. Find out why there is still hope that we can achieve carbon zero in time to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
  • CHANGING PLANET II – Wednesday, April 19, 9:00 p.m. ET – In its second season, CHANGING PLANET revisits six of our planet’s most vulnerable ecosystems and catches up with the inspiring people introduced in the first series — scientists and local experts fighting to safeguard their communities and wildlife, charting the progress of their game-changing environmental projects. Dr. M. Sanjayan hosts this year’s episodes from Australia, a country on the front lines of climate change both in terms of its devastating effects but also potential solutions. Moving between Australia and our six hubs, Season Two paints a powerful picture of our CHANGING PLANET.
  • The slate extends beyond Earth Month with specials and series including:
    • HUMAN FOOTPRINT – July 2023 – This six-part documentary series is hosted by biologist and Princeton University professor Shane Campbell-Staton as he embarks on a journey to understand all the ways humans have transformed the planet.
    • NOVA “Ancient Earth” – Fall 2023 – This NOVA/BBC five-part series presents an epic biography of the Earth, delving into deep history to uncover the most dramatic events in our planet’s past, from its birth to the emergence of humanity. With astonishing visuals and contributions from leading scientists, the result is an exciting fusion of sweeping storytelling and freshly delivered insights illuminating billions of years of Earth’s epic history.
    • DYNAMIC PLANET (w.t.) – Fall 2023 – This extraordinary four-part journey to the extremes of Earth shines a light on the impacts of climate change and reveals how science and tradition can prepare us for a fast-changing world. Pairing indigenous knowledge with cutting-edge research and unexpected animal behaviors, the program explores the interconnectedness of nature and provides surprising hope for our future.
    • EVOLUTION EARTH – Fall 2023 – Discover how new animal behaviors are revealing insights into the story of our changing planet. Traveling to extreme locations, distant wild lands and modern urban environments, this five-part series meets both animals and people on the front lines of climate change and offers a look at how Earth is evolving at superspeed.
  • More titles will be announced later.
  • Educational resources drawing on content from these programs will be available through PBS LearningMedia. Available for free to all educators pre-K through 12th grade, PBS LearningMedia offers classroom-ready content aligned to state and national standards, compatible with the tools teachers use most, such as Google Classroom, and contextualized with supporting materials.

PBS Announces New Phase of Filmmaker Initiative to Bring Opportunities to Dynamic and Diverse Creators at Various Career Stages

  • PBS revealed the first wave of content creators who will receive funding support to complete their films through the Open Call for Emerging Filmmakers. The announcement also included details on new measures as part of a larger Diverse Voices Initiative to support the careers of early and mid-career filmmakers from underrepresented communities to further diversify public media.
  • “At PBS, we share stories that reflect the lived experiences of our audiences,” said Sylvia Bugg, Chief Programming Executive and General Manager, General Audience Programming at PBS. “We are excited to make these announcements today that bring new opportunities to content creators. This focus demonstrates how PBS is supporting creators who have unique ideas that will resonate, foster dialogue, and bring new engagement across the public media system. And we continue to work closely with partners such as INDEPENDENT LENS, POV, WORLD Channel and others to spotlight these creators and their projects.”

PBS Open Call for Emerging Filmmakers

  • Whether in early concept stages or nearing completion, PBS will offer funding support for selected films that may be distributed across PBS platforms including PBS.org and PBS Digital Studios.  
  • The inaugural films include a broad array of stories from a diversity of perspectives in genres ranging from arts & culture, personal history, social justice, health, immigration, economics, environment, democracy, and civics.  The films will be released with corresponding activities.
  • More information about each film, creator and distribution partner will be announced soon.
  • BUFFALO SOLDIERS FIGHTING ON TWO FRONTS
    • FILMMAKER: Dru Holley
  • ÉMIGRÉS (SHORT)
    • FILMMAKER: Betsy Tsai
  • MATRONAS
    • FILMMAKERS: Noemi Delgado & Shara Lili
  • ON THREE WHEELS
    • FILMMAKER: Cionin Lorenzo
  • QUEEN CITY KINGS
    • FILMMAKER: Yemi Oyediran
  • A THOUSAND PINES
    • FILMMAKER: Sebastian Diaz Aguirre
  • UNTITLED PRISON HUNGER STRIKE
    • FILMMAKER: JoeBill Muñoz and Lucas Guilkey
  • WHEN THEY WERE HERE
    • FILMMAKER: Ivan MacDonald

PBS Ignite Mentorship for Diverse Voices

  • To help reduce barriers and increase access for diverse filmmakers within the public media system, PBS today launched a robust mentorship program for early-career filmmakers. Through immersive experiences, PBS will support these filmmakers as they build relationships within the public media system and produce content for public media platforms.
  • This is a hybrid one-year program for up to 12 early-career filmmakers from underrepresented communities. Whether applicants have a current project underway or are starting a new one, they will be provided with professional development opportunities.
  • As of January 16, 2023, applicants can apply here.

PBS Accelerator Fellowship for Diverse Voices

  • Through the PBS Accelerator Fellowship, mid-career content makers are hired for a term of one-year on select PBS nationally distributed series. Applications for these opportunities are now available and can be accessed through Careers at PBS under Accelerator Fellowship Program for Diverse Voices.  
  • In addition to these new efforts announced today, PBS has ongoing filmmaker programs in partnership with Firelight Media and FRONTLINE from GBH.
  • The PBS Ignite Mentorship for Diverse Voices and the PBS Accelerator Fellowship for Diverse Voices have been made possible, in part, through funding secured from Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies.

The WNET Group, Latino Public Broadcasting and NGL Collective to Present American Historia with John Leguizamo, Premiering Tuesday, August 29 on PBS

  • New three-part series follows John Leguizamo’s continued quest to uncover the history and often overlooked contributions of Latino people
  • In 2018, acclaimed Broadway and film actor John Leguizamo kicked off an exploration of Latino history in his Tony-nominated play Latin History for Morons, cramming 3,000 years of history into a 90-minute one man show. Now, following his triumphant Broadway run, and prompted by a quest to discover lost Latino heroes throughout history, Leguizamo sets out on his most ambitious journey yet in the new three-part documentary series, American Historia. Co-created by Leguizamo and award-winning filmmaker Ben DeJesus, who also serves as director, The WNET Group, Latino Public Broadcasting and Latino digital media and entertainment company NGL Collective are collaborating to produce the series. A co-presentation of The WNET Group and Latino Public Broadcasting’s VOCES, American Historia is set to premiere nationwide on Tuesdays, August 29, September 5 and September 12 on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org and the PBS App.
  • Leguizamo’s work preparing for Latin History for Morons produced an obsession with reading and researching the history of the Americas. His frustration over the whitewashing of American history, coupled with his nature as a curious student of the world, resulted in a passion not quelled by his 400+ performances of the show on Broadway and beyond. American Historia takes Leguizamo’s passion from the stage and puts him on the road on a chronological journey traveling throughout Mexico and the U.S. to shed light on both the known and lesser-known stories of Latino history.
  • Inspired by Leguizamo’s own multi-faceted style, each episode will combine cultural travel segments as well as entertaining interstitials, unveiling Leguizamo’s passionate revelations about his favorite Latino figures. The cultural segments will feature visits to historical sites as well as interviews with notable historians and Latino cultural figures. Locations and interviewees to be announced at a later date.
  • “Through this series, it’s our mission to continue celebrating the incredible contributions that Latinas and Latinos have made to this country and beyond that have often been left off the pages of history. We’re excited to bring the stories of so many of our unsung heroes to life in a way that’s never been done before, said Ben DeJesus. “For John and myself, we couldn’t have found better partners for this journey than the tremendous teams at WNET, PBS, CPB, ITVS and Latino Public Broadcasting.”
  • “We’re delighted to be working again with John Leguizamo and filmmaker Ben DeJesus on this eye-opening new series,” says Sandie Viquez Pedlow, executive director of Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB) and executive producer of VOCES.  “John’s enthusiasm for educating audiences about the amazing breadth of Latino history and his distinctive style – irreverent, passionate, curious – makes this unique new series really come alive. We’re pleased to work again with our colleagues at WNET on this special joint venture.”
  • “We’re pleased to partner with John Leguizamo, Ben DeJesus, Latino Public Broadcasting and NGL Collective to bring American Historia to viewers nationwide,” said Lesley Norman, executive producer for The WNET Group. “It is a hallmark of our mission to present trusted, thorough, and thought-provoking content that champions understanding through education. We are honoured to spotlight the stories of Latino gamechangers and pillars of culture that are often left out of American history textbooks.”
  • American Historia is a production of The WNET Group, Latino Public Broadcasting and NGL Collective. For The WNET Group: Lesley Norman is Executive Producer and Stephen Segaller is Executive-in-Charge. For NGL: John Leguizamo, Ben DeJesus, and Jill Krikorian are Executive Producers. For Latino Public Broadcasting: Sandie Viquez Pedlow is Executive Producer. Donald Thoms is Executive Producer.
  • Funding for American Historia is provided by PBS, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Anderson Family Charitable Fund, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, Latino Public Broadcasting, ITVS and Seton J. Melvin.

New Ken Burns Film Explores History of the American Buffalo

  • THE AMERICAN BUFFALO, a new two-part, four-hour film directed by Ken Burns, will premiere on Oct. 16 and 17, PBS announced today at the Television Critics Association meeting in Pasadena, California.
  • THE AMERICAN BUFFALO is the biography of an improbable, shaggy beast that has found itself at the center of many of the country’s most mythic and heartbreaking tales. The series, which has been in production for four years, will take viewers on a journey through more than 10,000 years of North American history and across some of the continent’s most iconic landscapes, tracing the mammal’s evolution, its significance to the Great Plains and, most importantly, its relationship to the Indigenous People of North America.
  • “It is a quintessentially American story,” Ken Burns said, “filled with unforgettable stories and people. But it is also a morality tale encompassing two historically significant lessons that resonate today: how humans can damage the natural world and also how we can work together to make choices to preserve the environment around us. The story of the American buffalo is also the story of Native nations who lived with and relied on the buffalo to survive, developing a sacred relationship that evolved over more than 10,000 years but which was almost completely severed in fewer than 100.”
  • The series was written by Dayton Duncan (COUNTRY MUSIC, THE DUST BOWL, THE NATIONAL PARKS, LEWIS & CLARK), who is also the author of the companion book, “Blood Memory: The Tragic Decline and Improbable Resurrection of the American Buffalo,” to be published by Knopf timed to the broadcast. It was produced by Burns’s longtime colleague Julie Dunfey (COUNTRY MUSIC, THE NATIONAL PARKS, THE DUST BOWL, THE CIVIL WAR). Julianna Brannum (CONSCIENCE POINT, NATIVE AMERICA, WE SHALL REMAIN “Wounded Knee”), a member of the Quahada band of the Comanche Nation of Oklahoma, served as consulting producer. W. Richard West, Jr., a Cheyenne and founding director and director emeritus of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, was the senior advisor.
  • For thousands of generations, buffalo have evolved alongside Indigenous people who relied on them for food and shelter, and, in exchange for killing them, revered the animal. The stories of Native people anchor the series, including the Kiowa, Comanche and Cheyenne of the Southern Plains; the Pawnee of the Central Plains; the Salish, Kootenai, Lakota, Mandan-Hidatasa, Aaniiih, Crow, Northern Cheyenne and Blackfeet from the Northern Plains; and others.
  • The film includes interviews with leading Native American scholars, land experts and Tribal Nation members. Among those interviewed were: Gerard Baker (Mandan-Hidatsa), George Horse Capture, Jr. (Aaniiih), Rosalyn LaPier (Blackfeet of Montana and Métis), N. Scott Momaday (Kiowa), Marcia Pablo (Salish), Ron Parker (Comanche), Dustin Tahmahkera (Comanche) and Germaine White (Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes).
  • “The story of American bison,” historian Rosalyn LaPier says in the film, “really is two different stories. It’s a story of Indigenous people and their relationship with the bison for thousands of years. And then, enter not just the Europeans, but the Americans…that’s a completely different story. That really is a story of utter destruction.”
  • THE AMERICAN BUFFALO documents the startling swiftness of the species’ near extinction in the late 19th century. Numbering an estimated 30 million in the early 1800s, the herds began declining for a variety of reasons, including the lucrative buffalo robe trade, the steady westward settlement of an expanding United States, diseases introduced by domestic cattle and drought. But the arrival of the railroads in the early 1870s and a new demand for buffalo hides to be used in the belts driving industrial machines back East brought thousands of hide hunters to the Great Plains. In just over a decade the number of bison collapsed from 12-15 million to fewer than a thousand, representing one of the most dramatic examples of our ability to destroy the natural world. By 1900, the American buffalo teetered on the brink of disappearing forever, and the Native people of the Plains entered one of the most traumatic moments of their existence.
  • But the other, lesser-known part of this story, told in the film’s second episode, is about the people who set out to save the species from extermination and how they did it. Their actions provide compelling proof that we are equally capable of pulling back from the brink of environmental catastrophe if we set our minds to it.
  • Both parts of the larger narrative are filled with unforgettable stories and people, including Old Lady Horse, a Kiowa woman who describes her tribe’s spiritual and practical relationship with the bison, and Charles Jesse “Buffalo” Jones, a mercenary hunter who took part in the elimination of 3 million buffalo, then turned to rescuing motherless calves and starting a small herd that would eventually provide seed stock for others. The eloquent words of Pretty-Shield, a Crow medicine woman, describe the utter devastation felt by all the tribes at the destruction of the great herds, while crusading conservationist George Bird Grinnell’s editorials explore how central Yellowstone National Park’s small herd became to the survival of the species.
  • The buffalo were brought back from the brink of extinction by a diverse and unlikely collection of Americans, such as Native American families on reservations in South Dakota and Montana, the legendary cattleman Charles Goodnight and his wife Molly in the Texas Panhandle, and Austin Corbin, the Long Island railroad magnate who owned an exotic game preserve in New Hampshire. There was also Ernest Harold Baynes, an eccentric nature writer, who trained a pair of young bison bulls to pull a wagon and took them on tour to help launch a national movement to save the species. Other, more famous champions of the movement included the Bronx Zoo’s William T. Hornaday; William “Buffalo Bill” Cody; and Theodore Roosevelt, who hurried west as an impulsive young man to shoot a bison before they were all gone, and then, as president of the United States, created the first federal bison reserves in the West. The film also introduces Quanah Parker, the Comanche leader who went from waging war against the U.S. Army and the hide hunters to a man of peace, who lived to see the buffalo return to his homeland.
  • Today, there are approximately 350,000 buffalo in the U.S., most of them descendants of 77 animals from five founding herds at the start of the 20th century, and their numbers are increasing. THE AMERICAN BUFFALO concludes with a brief look at some of the ongoing restoration efforts and the central role the Tribal Nations have had in their return.
  • The broadcast of THE AMERICAN BUFFALO will be accompanied by educational materials for middle and high school classrooms, highlighting recent research and perspectives. The materials, which were prepared by PBS Learning Media, will be available at the Ken Burns in the Classroom site. These materials include clips from the film as well as other resources that connect to its core themes, such as reflections on the buffalo by Indigenous people, Native American life throughout the period, an examination of the buffalo ecosystem and others. UNUM, Ken Burns’s website that looks at the connections between the past and current events, will also utilize other films from the Florentine Films library to facilitate conversations about environmental change and the extermination of wildlife in the United States.
  • THE AMERICAN BUFFALO will air Oct. 16 and 17, at 8:00-10:00 p.m. ET (check local listings) on PBS, PBS.org and the PBS App. THE AMERICAN BUFFALO will be distributed internationally by PBS International. The series will be available to stream for free on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS App, available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung Smart TV, Chromecast and VIZIO. PBS station members can view the documentary via PBS Passport as part of a full collection of Ken Burns films. For more information about PBS Passport, visit the PBS Passport FAQ website.
  • Voice actors in the film are Adam Arkin, Tantoo Cardinal, Tim Clark, Tokala Clifford, Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis, Paul Giamatti, Murphy Guyer, Michael Horse, Derek Jacobi, Gene Jones, Carolyn McCormick, Craig Mellish, Jon Proudstar, Chaske Spencer and Richard Whitman.
  • THE AMERICAN BUFFALO is a production of Florentine Films and WETA Washington, D.C. Directed by Ken Burns. Written by Dayton Duncan. Produced by Julie Dunfey and Ken Burns, and co-produced by Susan Shumaker. Emily Mosher served as associate producer and Julianna Brannum as consulting producer. Edited by Craig Mellish, ACE; Alex Cucchi, assistant editor. Principal cinematography by Buddy Squires. Narrated by Peter Coyote. The executive in charge for WETA is John F. Wilson. Executive producer is Ken Burns.
  • Corporate funding for THE AMERICAN BUFFALO was provided by Bank of America.  Major funding was provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and by The Better Angels Society and its following members: The Margaret A. Cargill Foundation at the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation; Diane and Hal Brierley; The Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment; John and Catherine Debs; Kissick Family Foundation; Fred and Donna Seigel; Jacqueline Mars; John and Leslie McQuown; and Mr. and Mrs. Paul Tudor Jones.  Funding was also provided by The Volgenau Foundation.

PBS and American Experience Announce Two Documentaries That Explore the Legacy of Efforts to Integrate Public Schools in 1970s America

  • PBS and American Experience announced two new documentaries that examine the deeply mixed legacy of America’s efforts to racially integrate public schools. “Boston School Battle (w.t.)” viscerally captures the class tensions and racial violence that met the city’s decision to use busing to end school segregation. The film is directed by Sharon Grimberg and Cyndee Readdean. “The Harvest” is a personal and powerful look at Leland, Mississippi’s attempts to desegregate its schools. The film is directed by Sam Pollard and Douglas A. Blackmon, one of the Leland students and the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II; both films are executive produced by Cameo George. Both films will premiere in fall 2023.
  • "These two films — one taking place in the urban North, the other in a small Southern town and both nearly 20 years after Brown v Board of Education made school segregation illegal — challenge our perception of how communities across the country dealt with the Supreme Court ruling," said Cameo George, Executive Producer of American Experience. “They also remind us that this was one of the most complicated and fraught national experiments in American history. Both films are witness-driven and allow those who lived through the events on both sides of the color line to share their experiences, now with the hindsight of five decades.”
  • “Boston School Battle (w.t.)” – On June 21, 1974, in response to decades of racial segregation and clear evidence of educational disparities, U.S. District Court Judge W. Arthur Garrity ordered the Boston Public Schools to integrate through a court-mandated busing plan. Despite the city’s self-proclaimed reputation as the “cradle of liberty” and the “birthplace of abolition,” it had always been racially divided. The institution of forced busing set off racial violence and class tensions across the city, and media coverage of the unrest shaped Boston’s reputation and attitudes toward school desegregation across the country for decades. Using eyewitness accounts, oral histories and rare news archives, the film examines the volatile effort to end segregation in Boston’s public schools and details the decades-long struggle for educational equity that preceded the busing crisis. The film is directed by Sharon Grimberg (American Experience Joseph McCarthy, The Abolitionists) and Cyndee Readdean (Reconstruction: America After the Civil War).
  • “The Harvest” – After the 1954 Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional, little more than token efforts were made to desegregate Southern schools. That changed dramatically on October 29, 1969, when the high court ordered that Mississippi schools fully and immediately desegregate. As a result, six-year-old Douglas Blackmon entered school in the fall of 1970 as part of the first class of Black and white children who would attend all 12 grades together in Leland, Mississippi. Set against vast historic and demographic changes unfolding across America, “The Harvest” follows a brave coalition of Black and white citizens working to create racially integrated public schools in a cotton town in the middle of the Mississippi Delta, steeped in a malign history of racial intolerance. It tells the extraordinary story of how that first class became possible, then traces the lives of Blackmon and his classmates, teachers and parents from the first day through high school graduation, capturing how the children, the town and America were changed. The film is directed by Sam Pollard (MLK/FBI) and Douglas A. Blackmon.
  • The broadcast premieres of the films will be supported by a major months-long engagement campaign designed to facilitate community-based and national conversations around issues of inclusion and belonging in schools and equity in educational outcomes. Complete information will be announced in early 2023.
  • American Experience “Boston School Battle (w.t.)” and “The Harvest” will stream simultaneously with broadcast on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS App, available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Samsung Smart TV, Chromecast and VIZIO. The films will also be available for streaming with closed captioning in English and Spanish.
  • Cameo George (Executive Producer, American Experience) is an Emmy Award-winning producer, writer and journalist with more than 20 years of experience in documentary, broadcast television and digital content production. George has produced, developed and commissioned innovative programming at CNN, NBC News and ABC News. She was the senior producer of CNN’s groundbreaking series Black in America and Latino in America and executive producer of the eight-hour PBS documentary series 16 FOR '16: THE CONTENDERS, which was also broadcast on the BBC. George joined American Experience from ABC News, where she was head of development for long-form projects, responsible for creating a pipeline of docuseries and feature documentary films across Walt Disney Television platforms, including ABC News, Hulu, National Geographic and Disney+.

PBS KIDS Announces WEATHER HUNTERS, New Animated STEM Series From Al Roker Entertainment

  • PBS KIDS announced the production of WEATHER HUNTERS, a new animated science series for kids ages 5-8 from Al Roker Entertainment (ARE), the production company led by beloved Emmy-winning TODAY weatherman and host, Al Roker. The series is designed to support kids’ understanding of weather through adventure and comedy. The main character is 8-year-old Lily Hunter, a weather detective who shares her investigations with her family, including dad Al Hunter, voiced by Roker. The series will help further young viewers’ interest and knowledge of Earth science and meteorology, both key building blocks of climate education.
  • “We’re so excited to be working with Al Roker and his team to bring important weather and Earth science lessons to kids through WEATHER HUNTERS,” said Sara DeWitt, Senior Vice President and General Manager, PBS KIDS. “We know that parents and kids are looking for content about weather and climate; this show is fresh, funny and forward-thinking, and will help kids understand how weather affects their lives every day.”
  • "Weather Hunters has been a labor of love and a passion project for more than a decade and I cannot think of a better partner than PBS KIDS to make this dream come true," said Al Roker. “When it comes to WEATHER HUNTERS, I predict increasing animation with downpours of family friendly storytelling and a rising understanding of weather and climate on your local PBS station, pbskids.org, and the PBS KIDS Video and Games apps."
  • Each 22-minute episode of WEATHER HUNTERS will explore kid-relatable STEM-based activities and themes, highlighting the wonder of weather within the broad field of science in terms that all learners can understand. Topics include observing and tracking weather patterns, exploring why weather changes can be different around the country and the world, and the connection between humans and the environment. The series will reinforce key weather, climate, and environmental concepts to provide building blocks for further learning. Digital content for kids, parents and teachers will launch along with the series to reinforce the show’s key messages and encourage further engagement.
  • With stories that feature warm family interactions and stunning natural weather phenomena, the series will have a unique contemporary and original look. Created by Al Roker, WEATHER HUNTERS is being produced by New York-based Al Roker Entertainment. Tracie Brennan and Lisa Tucker (ARE) serve as Executive Producers, along with four-time Emmy Award-winning animation industry veteran, Bill Schultz (Simpsons, Garfield, Clifford the Big Red Dog). The original series brings together an amazing team of artists and writers for the new 40 half hour series, including notable animation director Tyree Dilihay (Bob’s Burgers), animation producer/director Jerry Brice, head writer John Semper (Static Shock, Fraggle Rock) and three-time Emmy Award winner and writer, Carin Greenberg (Tumbleleaf).
  • Timing of the premiere will be announced at a future date.
  • WEATHER HUNTERS is made possible with funding from Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies and PBS.

PBS KIDS Announces New Animated Series, LYLA IN THE LOOP, Premiering Early 2024

  • PBS KIDS announced the production of LYLA IN THE LOOP, a funny and engaging animated series for kids ages 4-8 from Mighty Picnic and Pipeline Studios. The show stars Lyla, a dynamic 7-year-old Black girl, her close-knit family, fantastical blue sidekick Stu, and a host of relatable and quirky characters living in her community, who together spotlight creative problem-solving and critical thinking skills while working collaboratively with others.
  • "LYLA IN THE LOOP focuses on the important skills of creative thinking and problem solving through a thoughtful and adventurous approach that meets children in a funny and relatable way,” said Sara DeWitt, Senior Vice President and General Manager, PBS KIDS. “We’re so excited to be partnering with Mighty Picnic and Pipeline Studios to bring this inventive new series to families across the country."
  • LYLA IN THE LOOP is created by Emmy®-winning producer Dave Peth (Odd Squad, Peg + Cat, Scribbles and Ink, Design Squad), founder of media production and consulting company Mighty Picnic. Pipeline Studios, the Emmy-winning children’s content studio (Elinor Wonders Why, Alma’s Way, Bubble Guppies) is animating the series.
  • “The message of LYLA IN THE LOOP is that everyone has what it takes to be a creative problem-solver,” says Series Creator and Showrunner Dave Peth. “If you keep asking questions, trying new things, and working together, you’ll find more solutions than you could have imagined – and have a lot of fun along the way.”
  • Series Executive Producer and Head Writer Fracaswell Hyman adds: “In a world where representation matters, LYLA IN THE LOOP features a Black girl who feels there is no problem too big or too small to solve. Lyla leans in when problems occur or obstacles appear. She is curious, imaginative and although she sometimes dives in head first without looking, her tenacity and creativity when it comes to problem-solving makes it clear that she will eventually resurface triumphant. Lyla’s loving family, friends and fantastical companion, Stu, create a warm environment that will attract viewers and invite them to emulate Lyla when challenges come their way.”
  • LYLA IN THE LOOP centers on Lyla’s family and diverse community. In addition to Lyla, the show features her mom, dad, 5-year-old brother Luke, 12-year-old twin sisters Liana and Louisa, and best friend Everett Phan, who all live in an apartment building and neighborhood bustling with activity. Stu, a fuzzy blue creature with a big smile helps Lyla tackle all kinds of challenges – like building the best-ever train set for her brother Luke, creating an extra-special sandwich for her family’s restaurant, Loops Lunch, and searching for a missing package sent by an Auntie in Jamaica (with delicious spice buns and other traditional treats inside!). In every adventure, Lyla and Stu introduce and explore foundational computational thinking concepts, leading to some comedic disasters and creative solutions, all while helping others in their community. The series will support a wide range of learners, modeling flexible approaches to finding and designing solutions, and creative self-expression.
  • “Lyla is a character I would’ve loved to see on television when I was 7,” says series Story Editor Monique D. Hall. “She’s a little Black girl who isn’t afraid to be her full, smart, and silly self. She and Stu get into all kinds of fun messes, but they always manage to find clever ways out of them–even if it takes a few tries. You’ll definitely want to be in the loop for whatever adventure Lyla, Stu, and the rest of the Loops Crew get into next!”
  • Funding for LYLA IN THE LOOP was provided by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and a grant from the U.S. Department of Education as part of the Ready to Learn Initiative, a federal program that supports the development of innovative educational television and digital media targeted to preschool and early elementary school children and their families.
  • “This animated series introduces our youngest learners to creative problem solving and uses humor to show how these skills apply to everyday life, laying the groundwork for more structured learning experiences at school,” said Debra Tica Sanchez, Senior Vice President, Educational Media and Learning Experiences, Corporation for Public Broadcasting. “CPB is proud to support this series as part of the Ready To Learn Initiative, which aims to ensure that every child develops the basic skills needed to succeed in school.”
  • "Featuring diverse and lovable characters who are inspired by creativity and the critical thinking skills needed to find solutions, LYLA IN THE LOOP will bring truly charming stories that will keep young minds engaged and entertained,” said Luis Lopez, CEO of Pipeline Studios. “Our world-class artists and technical talent are excited to work with such incredible partners at Mighty Picnic, PBS KIDS, and CPB, to bring Lyla to life."  
  • Digital content for kids, families, and teachers will launch along with the series and reinforce the show’s core messages, support play and experimentation with central computational thinking skills, and encourage creative expression.
  • Series advisors for LYLA IN THE LOOP include Dr. Amon Millner, Assistant Professor of Computing and Innovation at the Olin College of Engineering directing the Extending Access to STEM Empowerment (EASE) Lab, series Curriculum Director; Nermeen Dashoush, PhD and Clinical Assistant Professor, Early Childhood Education, Boston University, Lead Advisor; Yenda Prado, PhD, Education Researcher at University of California, Irvine, Universal Design for Learning (UDL) advisor; V. Scott Solberg, Professor, Department of Counseling and Applied Human Development, Boston University, Career Pathways and World of Work Advisor; Cosette Strong, Strong Consulting Group, DEIA Advisor.