ESPN To Air Special MLB Double Header On Independence Day

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN will celebrate America’s birthday this year with a celebration of the country’s national pastime.

Network officials announced recently the network will carry a special Major League Baseball double header on July 4th.  The schedule starts with a National League inter-divisional matchup between the Phillies and Pirates at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN.  American League opponents Boston and Texas round out the day’s double header schedule beginning at 8 p.m. ET.

Rotations and pitchers have not been announced for either game.  The July 4 matchup between the Phillies and Pirates will be the second of a four-game series between the NL foes while it the AL showdown between the Red Sox and Rangers will be the second in a three-game series between those teams.

More information on ESPN’s special Independence Day double header schedule is available online now along with all of the latest MLB headlines at http://www.espn.com/mlb.

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PBS Announces Release Date For Ken Burns’ Latest Documentary Series

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

Ken Burns and PBS have partnered to release the famed documentarian’s latest offering on DVD and Blu-ray late this summer.

Ken Burns: The Vietnam War will be released Tuesday, Sept. 19 on DVD and Blu-ray.  The 1,080-minute (18-hours) program examines the conflict in a previously untold fashion with interviews from almost 100 witnesses and uses rarely-seen, digitally re-mastered footage from historic news broadcasts, home movies and audio recordings from the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon administrations.

Audiences can see a preview of the program online now here.

Lynn Novick, who co-directed and produced the documentary alongside Burns and fellow co-producer Sarah Botstein, said some surprising revelations were made over the decade in which The Vietnam War was created.

“We are all searching for some meaning in this terrible tragedy.  Ken and I have tried to shed new light on the war by looking at it from the bottom up, the top down and from all sides,” Novick said.  “In addition to dozens of Americans who shared their stories, we interviewed many Vietnamese on both the winning and losing sides, and were surprised to learn that the war remains as painful and unresolved for them as it is for us.  Within this almost incomprehensibly destructive event, we discovered profound, universal human truths, as well as uncanny resonances with recent events.”

Burns agreed, adding it remains a divisive topic even four decades after Saigon fell.

“The Vietnam War was a decade of agony that took the lives of more than 58,000 Americans,” Burns said.  “Not since the Civil War have we as a country been so torn apart.  There wasn’t an American alive then who wasn’t affected in some way – from those who fought and sacrificed in the war to families of service members of POWs, to those who protested the war in open conflict with their government and fellow citizens.  More than 40 years after it ended, we can’t forget Vietnam, and we are still arguing about why it went wrong, who was to blame and whether it was all worth it.”

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

This latest offering from Burns and company also features new music composed by famed Academy Award®-winning producers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.  Reznor has also won numerous awards and accolades as the creative force behind Nine Inch Nails.

It offers more than 100 minutes of bonus material, too, including a 45-minute preview program, two programs focusing on contemporary lives of two people involved in the conflict and much more.

As if that expanse of bonus material is not enough, the program, which will air on PBS stations nationwide between Sept. 17 – 21 and Sept. 24 – 28, a companion outreach and public engagement program – provided by PBS stations nationwide – aimed at giving communities the chance to take part in a national discussion about the war.

A website and educational initiative will also be launched online at PBS Learning Media aimed at engaging teachers and students everywhere about the war.

The program spans 10 discs on both platforms and will retail for MSRP of $99.99 on DVD and $129.99 on Blu-ray.  It will also be available via digital download. The sets can be pre-ordered online now at discounted prices of $94.99 (DVD) and $124.99 (Blu-ray).

A companion standalone book is also available for order for $59.99.  The book and box sets can be pre-ordered online now via PBS’ online store along with complete sets that include the box sets and book.

More information on this and other titles from Ken Burns and PBS is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.pbs.org/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pbs

Twitter: http://twitter.com/pbs

 

 

 

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PBS Kids Heads Skyward With New ‘Dinosaur Train’ DVD

Courtesy: PBS Kids/PBS/Public Media Distribution

PBS Kids and Public Media Distribution have partnered to take families into the sky with a new Dinosaur Train DVD.

Dinosaur Train: Dinosaurs Take Flight will be released Tuesday, June 13 in stores and online. The DVD features eight more episodes spread across a single disc at a total run time of two hours. The DVD will retail for MSRP of $12.99 and can be ordered online now via PBS’ online store.

Dinosaur Train: Dinosaurs Take Flight gets its name primarily from its special four-part episode which takes the Pteranodon family on the maiden voyage of the Dinosaur Train Zeppelin.  Tiny, Shiny, Don and their parents discover more than just more dinosaurs on the airship’s first flight.  They also learn about how Earth’s continents came to be spread across the planet, how craters and atolls are formed and even waterfalls.

The second group of episodes is unrelated to the disc’s main episodes. However, it does follow the flying theme in the collection’s title as Don befriends a dragonfly in “Don’s Dragonfly,” and as the Pteranodon family, with the help of Mr. Conductor, help a lost bird get back home in “The Lost Bird.”

The flying theme continues in “Pterosaur Flying Club” and “Petey The Peteinosaurus” as the Pteranodon kids and their friends practice for a flying show and as Tiny, Shiny, Don, and Buddy meet new friend Petey Peteinosaurus respectively.

Dinosaur Train: Dinosaurs Take Flight will be released Tuesday, June 13.  More information on this new DVD is available online along with lots of Dinosaur Train activities, games and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://pbskids.org/dinosaurtrain

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DinosaurTrain

 

 

 

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‘SOTD: Nero’s Sunken City’ Is A Splash Hit

Courtesy: Public Media Distribution/PBS

Early last month, Public Media Distribution released a new episode of its hit history-based series Secrets of the Dead that examines what is one of the world’s great lost cities in Secrets of the Dead: Nero’s Sunken City.  Now, it isn’t Atlantis.  This city is one that actually did exist.  It is the lost city of Baiae, a city that has been considered by many to be the Las Vegas of the ancient world. What happened in Baiae stayed in Baiae, as is noted in the program.  This nearly hour-long is a program that will appeal to students and lovers of archaeology and anthropology.  That is due in no small part to the story at the program’s heart.  The re-enactments used to help tell the story are just as important to note as the story itself in examining this program’s overall presentation.  The program’s pacing round out its most important elements.  Each element is important in its own right to the program’s presentation, as will be pointed out.  All things considered, they make Secrets of the Dead: Nero’s Sunken City a program that history buffs in general will appreciate just as much as those who have an interest in archaeology and anthropology.

Secrets of the Dead: Nero’s Sunken City is a program that will appeal to history buffs in general as well as students and lovers of archaeology and anthropology.  That is due in part to the story at the program’s heart.  The story follows researchers as they examine the infamous city’s history and how roughly half of the city ended up beneath the waves. The city’s history includes the story of one of the world’s most nefarious rulers, Nero.  As the story reveals, it was at Baiae that Nero allegedly killed not only his aunt but his own mother, too just so that he could take their villas, which were located in Baiae.  It was also in Baiae that other Roman politicians came to take part in rather decadent and sometimes taboo activities.  Many of the political schemes that rocked Rome were also planned at Baiae.  The story of those activities, plans and of Nero’s own heinous actions is collectively eye-opening to say the very least.  The story of how the city nearly vanished thanks to volcanic activity (and how that same activity is in fact slowly bringing the city closer to the water’s surface) is in itself interesting.  As if all of that is not enough, viewers also learn of the seafood dishes that were once created at Baiae through the story.  Those same dishes are still made by residents of the region today. Keeping all of this in mind, it becomes clear why the story at the center of SOTD: Nero’s Sunken City is so pivotal to the program’s overall presentation.  When people think of sunken cities, minds automatically go to Atlantis, not Baiae.  That being the case, this story takes viewers to a real sunken city; one whose story is just as interesting as that of the fabled Atlantis if not more so.  The story at the center of this episode of SOTD is only one of the elements that makes the program stand out.  The re-enactments that are used to help tell the story are important in their own, collective, way to the program’s presentation.

The story at the center of SOTD: Nero’s Sunken City is in itself plenty of reason for audiences to watch this program.  The story will appeal not only to history buffs in general but to students and lovers of archaeology, anthropology and even geology.  It is the story of a sunken city that is nowhere near as talked about as that of the fabled city of Atlantis, which may or may not even exist.  Baiae does exist.  That makes this story even more interesting.  The story here is only one part of what makes this program so interesting.  The re-enactments that are used to help tell Baiae’s story are collectively just as important to discuss as the program’s central story.  The re-enactments are so important to note because of their minimal usage.  Audiences do get to see a man portraying Nero as the discussions turn to him.  But the extent of what audiences get is basically that of the actor walking around.  Even as the story turns to the discussions of Nero’s heinous alleged acts of murder, audiences will be glad to know that there is no unnecessary gory re-enactment.  Those behind the program’s production are to be commended for the common sense of not going there.  Other networks clearly would have no problem going that route.  So it is good to see that those behind this engaging PBS program opted to take the high road.  Between that and the balance of the re-enactments to the live action footage, audiences get in the program’s visual experience an element that sits atop the foundation formed by the program’s story, strengthening it even more.  While the re-enactments (or the general lack thereof) serve to enhance the program’s presentation even more, they are not the last of its most important elements.  The program’s pacing rounds out its most important elements.

The story at the center of SOTD: Nero’s Sunken City and the minimally used re-enactments used to help tell that story are both key to the program’s overall presentation.  While each element is important in its own right to the program’ presentation–as has been pointed out–the two are not the program’s only key elements.  The program’s pacing rounds out its most important elements.  From start to finish, the program’s pacing never moves too fast or slow.  Each segment gets its own share of time, and the information shared in each segment never gets so in-depth that everyday audiences will feel lost.  That being the case, audiences will find themselves feeling like the program progresses with ease, not even being moved to check their watches (or cell phones) for the time.  That is a testament to the manner in which the program was assembled.  It makes the program’s pacing feel wholly natural, in turn ensuring even more audiences’ maintained engagement.  When this is taken into consideration with the program’s story and the re-enactments used to tell the story (alongside the live action footage), the whole of these three elements makes SOTD: Nero’s Sunken City another enjoyable edition of Secrets of the Dead.

Secrets of the Dead: Nero’s Sunken City is yet another example of what makes Secrets of the Dead one of the best history-based series on television today.  It also is more proof of the importance of public broadcasting to the world.  It offers an original story that will educate and surprise audiences at the same time. The balance of the program’s re-enactments and live action material adds even more interest to the program.  The program’s pacing puts the final touch to the program.  Each element is important in its own right to the program’s whole.  All things considered, they make this episode of Secrets of the Dead more proof of why it is not *ahem* secret why Secrets of the Dead is one of the best history-based programs on television today.  It is available now and can be ordered online direct via PBS’ online store.  More information on this and other episodes of Secrets of the Dead is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SecretsofTheDead

Twitter: http://twitter.com/SecretsPBS

 

 

 

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One Year Later: ESPN Networks To Pay Tribute To Ali

Photo Credit: Eric Thayer for ESPN

ESPN and its networks will pay tribute to legendary boxer and revolutionary Muhammad Ali Saturday on the first anniversary of his death.

The tribute to Ali begins at 4 a.m. Saturday on ESPN2 with Ali’s Dozen, a documentary about Ali.  The coverage continues at 5 a.m. with Ali’s 65, a documentary marking Ali’s 65th birthday by looking at his life and career in and out of the ring.  The network will also carry other programming including Ali’s 1974 match against George Foreman and his 1975 match against George Frazier throughout the day.

Next Sunday, June 9, coverage continues on the eve of the first anniversary of Ali’s passing on ESPN with a special edition of E:60E:60 Ali’s Last Round airs at 9 p.m. The documentary focuses not so much on Ali, but the man who drove Ali’s casket through the streets of Louisville, KY—Hamilton Porter on the procession’s roughly 20-mile route.

Porter is the fourth generation of his family to work at A.D. Porter and Sons Funeral Home, the funeral home that handled Ali’s funeral.

Tributes to Ali will be available not only on television but online, too.  ESPN.com writer Tom Junod’s article The Greatest, At Rest can be read online now.  The article follows those who handled Ali’s funeral from the funeral home to those closest to him.  It can be read online now here.

ESPN Boxing writer Dan Rafael’s Muhammad Ali memorabilia is also being presented online for audiences to see here complete with commentary on each item by Rafael.

Along with Junod’s article and Rafael’s presentation, ESPN.com has also culled all of its Ali-related articles from the past year in one place here.

More information on the ESPN networks’ Muhammad Ali tributes is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://espn.go.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ESPN

Twitter: http://twitter.com/espn

 

 

 

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Desmond Howard Inks New Deal With ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

Audiences can expect to see Desmond Howard every fall for the foreseeable future on ESPN.

ESPN announced Tuesday that Howard had signed a new multi-year deal with the worldwide leader in sports.  The terms of Howard’s new deal were not released, though Lee Fitting, ESPN senior coordinating producer, assured audiences Howard will be with the network for a long time thanks to the new deal.

The name Desmond Howard is synonymous with college football,” Fitting said.  “Desmond has been a key part of our College GameDay family for over 10 years, and will be into the foreseeable future.  Desmond has established himself as a respected analyst, and now he is going to continue to deliver honest and thoughtful opinions elevating our college football coverage.”

Howard’s College GameDay cohorts Rece Davis and Kirk Herbstreit agreed, with Davis saying Howard’s “honesty and candor resonates with fans and makes our show better.” Herbstreit said Howard “continues to grow as an analyst and works hard to be dialed in on the subject matters each week,” adding he was anticipating the next number of years with Howard.

Howard was upbeat as he discussed his new contract, praising his fellow broadcasters.

“I am both excited and reflective as I embark on my 13th season with ESPN,” Howard said.  “When I transitioned from playing the game to talking about it for a living, I could not have landed on a better team than College GameDay, where I’ve been fortunate to learn from and grow with some of the very best in this industry.”

He added he was already anticipating the start of the 2017 college football season.

“Likewise, I consider myself lucky to be able to travel the country throughout the fall and be surrounded by so many die-hard college football fans who gather together to help us create a uniquely electric atmosphere every Saturday morning…Is it August yet?”

Howard’s football career reaches back to his time at The University of Michigan (1988 – 1991).  He was the first receiver in Big 10 history to lead the conference in scoring, setting or tying five NCAA records and 12 single-season Michigan records.

He won the Heisman Trophy in 1991 by the second largest margin of victory in the trophy’s history at 85 percent of the vote. The same year Howard, who also earned All-American status during his college career, was also awarded the Walter Camp Trophy and the Maxwell Award.

Even after he finished his college career, the awards kept coming for Howard. He was inducted into the:

  • Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame and the Gator Bowl Hall of Fame in 2005
  •  State of Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in 2007
  • University of Michigan Hall of Honor in 2008
  • National Football Foundation College Football of Fame in 2010
  • College Football Hall of Fame in 2011

Howard’s University of Michigan jersey was retired in 2015.  His accolades kept coming during his professional career including being drafted to the Washington Redskins in 1992 before eventually playing with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders and Detroit Lions.

He was named Super Bowl XXXI MVP in 1997 after returning 99-yard kickoff return that resulted in a touchdown.  The honor, earned as a member of the Green Bay Packers, made Howard the first and only special teams player to be named a Super Bowl MVP.

After finishing his 11-season career, Howard made the move to television, joining ESPN in 2005.

More College GameDay news is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.espn.com/college-football

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/collegegameday

Twitter: http://twitter.com/CollegeGameDay

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

PBS Heads To Brazil For New ‘Nature’ Episode

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

PBS is taking audiences to South America next month with the second of tow new episodes of its hit wildlife series Nature.

Nature: Hotel Armadillo will be released Tuesday, June 20 exclusively on DVD.  The program takes audiences on a journey to Brazil’s remote 80,000+ square foot Pantanal wet land in search of the elusive Giant Armadillo.

Very little is known about the solitary, nocturnal creature.  That is why the conservation biologist Arnaud Desbiez and members of the Giant Armadillo Project, which is supported by more than 40 zoos and aquariums worldwide, set out to find the animals.

Desbiez and company took specialized equipment on their journey to capture pictures and footage of the giant armadillo in its natural habitat, and learn much more than they ever expected in the process.  They discover once the armadillo vacates its burrow, which can be as deep as 20-feet, the burrow is used for both food and shelter by any number of other animals.

Along with the discovery of the semi-symbiotic relationship between the giant armadillo and other animals, the research team also discovers the armadillo’s wide home range.  It also presents a serious man-made danger facing the creature, which plays such a crucial part in Pantanal’s ecosystem—ranchers who burn the area to promote vegetative growth.

The DVD’s run time is approximately one hour. It will retail for MSRP of $24.99, but can be pre-ordered at a reduced price of $19.99 via PBS’ online store.  More information on this and other episodes of Nature is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PBSNature

Twitter: http://twitter.com/PBSNature

 

 

 

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