PBS Takes Audiences Down Under This Summer In New 3-Part Series

Courtesy:  PBS/Northern Pictures

Courtesy: PBS/Northern Pictures

This summer, PBS is taking audiences down under to one of the world’s seven natural wonders of the world when it presents the three-part documentary Life on the Reef.

Life on the Reef will be released on Tuesday, July 28th on DVD and Blu-ray. The documentary takes viewers both above and below the waves of the Great Barrier Reef, examining what makes it great and what continues to threaten not only its existence but that of the creatures that call it home, too. The first of the program’s three segments takes viewers along the reef during Australia’s tourist-heavy winter season. It shows rescue crews responding to both a human and ecological emergency in what is one of the most sensitive regions of the reef as they work to save the planet’s largest turtle rookery.

The second episode of Life on the Reef moves from winter into spring just as the reef really begins coming to life once again. Audiences are taken below the waves in this episode where they will get to see coral spawning and rays returning. On the dry side, viewers will see sea birds returning to the reef to nest and alligators protecting their own nests. Also in this episode, viewers will see rangers and scientists work to stop thorn starfish from creating a potential ecological catastrophe.

In the final of the program’s three segments, spring turns to summer but the threats to the reef don’t end. The entire North Queensland coast hunkers down as a Category Five cyclone bears down on the region. There are also other dangers such as shipping accidents and oil spills to deal with. Even through it all, life still goes on as countless turtles hatch and begin their lives.

Life on the Reef will be available on DVD Tuesday, July 28th. It will retail for MSRP of $24.99. the Blu-ray presentation will go for $29.99. Audiences can check out a trailer for Life on the Reef online now via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgFY16bloUs. It can be ordered online direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=65244396&cp=&sr=1&kw=life+on+the+reef&origkw=Life+on+the+Reef&parentPage=search. More information on this and other titles from PBS is available online now at:

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PBS, LPB Chronicle Famed Latino Journalist’s Life And Death In New Documentary

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

PBS will release on April 29th, a new documentary for those with any interest in the history of journalism.

Ruben Salazar: Man in the Middle will be released on DVD Tuesday, April 29th. The documentary follows the life and mysterious death of pioneering journalist Ruben Salazar. It follows Salazar’s eventual transition from a mainstream reporter to key figure in and supporter of the Chicano movement of the late 1960s. After being killed by a police officer in 1970, Salazar instantly became a martyr for those in the Latino community. Ironically enough, many in the Latino community had lambasted Salazar for his reporting during his life. Even more intriguing is that the full details of his death have been very murky even roughly four decades later.

This new documentary presents Salazar’s life in an objective, unbiased manner through interviews with Salazar’s friends, former co-workers, and family members as well as through his own words collected through personal writings. It is presented in partnership with Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB).

Latino Public Broadcasting Executive Director Sandie Viquez Pedlow discussed the release of this new documentary in a recent interview. Pedlow noted of Salazar that so little was known of him or his life until the release of this feature. She went on to note that it was through this story that audiences finally see just how important Salazar remains today as his is more than just one man’s story. It she stated in her interview, Salazar’s is a “very American story about the struggle between ethnic identity and assimilation.”

Joseph Tovares is the Senior VP for Diversity and Innovation at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). He also shared his thoughts on the Salazar’s cultural importance and the release of the new documentary. “Ruben Salazar’s importance in our nation’s history is underscored by the number of schools, scholarship programs and parks across the west and southwest that bear his name,” he said. “CPB support for this program, through our Diversity and Innovation Fund, reflects our commitment to giving voice to storytellers from all across the country and from a wide range of perspectives.”

Ruben Salazar: Man in the Middle was directed by filmmaker Phillip Rodriquez, whose most documentary was Race 2012. That documentary aired on PBS on October 16th, 2012. It examined the 2012 presidential election through the angle of a quickly changing racial landscape. He also received the first annual United States Artists Broad Fellow Award in 2006. The award is made by United States Artists (USA) and honors the nation’s finest living artists. Along with all of his other accomplishments and awards, Rodriguez is also a visiting fellow at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism.
Ruben Salazar: Man in the Middle will be available Tuesday, April 29th on DVD for an SRP of $24.99. It can be pre-ordered now via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=32759016&cp=&kw=ruben+salazar&origkw=Ruben+Salazar&sr=1.

More information on this and other programs from PBS is available online at http://www.pbs.org and http://www.facebook.com/pbs. 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.

Henry Ford An In-Depth Look At The Life of An American Auto Pioneer

Courtesy:  PBS/Liberty Mutual Insurance/Alfred P. Slaon Foundation/National Endowment For The Humanities/CPB/WGHB

Courtesy: PBS/Liberty Mutual Insurance/Alfred P. Slaon Foundation/National Endowment For The Humanities/CPB/WGHB

PBS’ documentary on auto pioneer Henry Ford is an interesting piece for anyone that has or has ever had any interest in the history not only of Ford but of the auto industry.  Its release was rather well timed what with the American auto industry trying to make a comeback after the troubles that the industry has had in recent years as a result of the economy.  While it is somewhat lengthy—it clocks in at two hours—it offers a glimpse of a man that likely few have ever known.  And it has something that will any car enthusiast will find interesting.  It offers an in-depth look at Ford’s life from his early childhood living on a farm to his later years.  Audiences will see Ford as a man who was driven throughout the better part of his life.  He wanted to be the best in the game both in business and even in racing.  Because of his drive (no pun intended), he was also a very shrewd businessman.  Audiences will be shocked to learn that as driven and respected as he was, Ford apparently started going downhill later in his life.  He began to show anti-Semitic leanings.  And his family life started to take a hit, too as he got older.

The story told through this documentary is enlightening for anyone that has any interest in the history of America’s very first automobile industry.  It even includes an item of interest for fans of auto racing, too.  As noted early in the documentary, Ford actually raced his car in the nation’s very first auto race in Michigan.  It notes that he won that race in a come-from-behind win after the car of one of his competitors broke down.  From there, he would go on to a handful of other wins, and would later incorporate Ford Motor Company.  This goes back somewhat to the recent discussions in NASCAR centered on the new “Gen 6” car as it was made to look like street cars so as to encourage buyers to go out and buy cars on Monday that win races on Sundays.

Ford’s life and his influence on America and its economy is eye opening in so many ways as seen through this program.  Making it even more interesting is the inclusion of actual photos and video of Ford’s life and accomplishments.  They are excellent visual aids that help to move the story along over the course of its two-hour run time.  Audiences get to see firsthand, footage of the workers on what would become the country’s first assembly line and pictures of the nation’s very first race.  Also included are pictures of the very first two-seater created by Ford (essentially the country’s very first sport coupe).  The pictures and footage of Ford later in his life are just as interesting to see as those of the empire that this once great man had created early in his life.  The images and footage together fit very well with the story told by various academics to make a story that anyone with an interest in the auto industry will enjoy.

From the garages of America’s auto enthusiasts, to the garages of NASCAR, and from the assembly lines to conference rooms of today’s auto industry, Henry Ford will interest anyone who has anything to do with cars.  Because of its history, it’s a tool that could even be used in the classroom for anyone studying auto technology or related courses at colleges and tech schools across the nation.  It is available now to order online.  It can be ordered direct via the PBS online store, http://www.shoppbs.org.

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Cold Warriors More About Wolves Than Buffalo

Courtesy:  PBS/Canon/CPB/WNET Thirteen

Courtesy: PBS/Canon/CPB/WNET Thirteen

PBS’ latest documentary from its Nature series is exactly what audiences would expect from the series.  Cold Warriors: Wolves and Buffalo is a beautifully shot work that takes audiences into the Canadian wilds that while it’s somewhat unbalanced in its content, is still worth viewing at least once.  The title of the latest entry in PBS’ Nature series is misleading, considering that the bulk of the feature is spent not so much on the relationship between buffalo and wolves, but on the wolves’ social and hunting habits.  In the feature’s defense, it can be said that what saves it is its stunning cinematography and equally beautiful backdrops as well as the subtle notes of the wolves’ habits.  The program was filmed in the Wood Buffalo National Park.  The aerial shots of the park are stunning to say the least.  Audiences get glimpses of the park both during its winter months, covered in snow, and in its warmer months.  Seeing the buffalo herds and the wolf pack moving along the terrain is especially interesting from the air in that audiences will note the tracks in the ground.  They may not be, but they come across as the same tracks that both followed in the snow.  Equally interesting to note is that while some of the wolves will help divide and conquer a herd, others stick close together, even travelling in a line both when hunting and simply travelling.

The backdrops and cinematography incorporated into Cold Warriors are both impressive.  They carry the roughly hour long feature on their backs.  Thanks to these aspects, the feature’s lesser aspects are made more bearable.  The program’s title leads one to believe that its focus is on the seeming relationship between the two groups.  But documentarian Jeff Turner openly spends more time on what he dubs the “Delta Pack” of wolves that he is tracking than on the buffalo, thus somewhat negating any concept of a relationship between the two groups of animals.  The manner in which the two groups are portrayed makes the buffalo come across as little more than prey for the wolves.  He doesn’t really spend any time focusing on the social habits of the buffalo.  And while Turner makes note of man’s potential impact on both groups early in the program, audiences don’t even get any of this discussion until late in the feature’s final minutes.   Given, the packaging for this feature does note that the focus would be on the wolves.  But that being the case, the feature’s title becomes rather misleading.  For all of this, it does still have its merits.

Cold Warriors is not the best of PBS’ Nature series.  Though, it is worth at least one watch.  As already noted, the cinematography and setting are both beautiful and stunning.  They do so much to move the special along.  They are just part of what makes this feature interesting.  Also interesting to note here is the wolves’ behavioral patterns. Their ability to communicate specific messages with very specific howls is an eye opener.  Most people would think with a casual glance that a howl is a howl.  But as Turner shows in his footage, that’s anything but true.  He shows that a single howl can bring together an entire group of wolves to help hunt for buffalo.  It’s proof of very intelligent behavior.  We as humans like to believe that we are the smartest beings on the planet.  But the “Delta Pack’s” ability to communicate in such fashion is yet more proof of the intelligence of other animals.  This along with Turner’s shooting style and the backdrops make Cold Warriors a presentation that any nature lover should see at least once.  

Cold Warriors is available now.  It can be ordered online now at http://www.shoppbs.org.  Audiences should note that being a nature program, some scenes may not be entirely suitable for some viewers.

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New Frontline Feature Examines The AIDS Epidemic In Black America

Courtesy: PBS/WGBH/BlackPublicMedia.org, Ford Foundation, MAC AIDS Fund, Corporation For Public Broadcasting/MacArthur Foundation/Reva & David Logan/Park Foundation/Frontline Journalism Fund

AIDS has devastated America since it first began appearing in the early 1980s.  When it first became known, it was thought to be a disease only of homosexual males.  Since that time though, knowledge of the disease and how to treat it has broadened.  Despite that knowledge, AIDS continues to ravage one group more than any other.  And it isn’t the gay community.  As presented by PBS’ Frontline, the community that is still being ravaged by the AIDS epidemic is the African American community.

In its new special, Frontline examines in an unbiased manner, the spread of AIDS in the black community.  It examines the factors that have led to the spread of the disease and the stigma attached to those who have contracted it, both straight and homosexual.  The stories told firsthand by those who contracted the disease are both powerful and moving.  And learning how widespread the disease is in the Black community is just as eye opening.  Through the program’s near two-hour run time, there is a message of hope that it can at least be reduced and slowed if not wiped out.

The stories told firsthand by those who contracted the AIDS virus come from members of every walk of the African American community.  On one hand, there is Nel.  Nel is sixty-three years old and a grandmother.  Nel married a deacon in her church who it turned out had lied to her about being HIV positive.  Even upon being confronted by her, he still lied about it.  Another story is that of a young woman who ended up contracting the disease from a man after having unprotected sex with a man she thought was Mr. Right.  And in another, audiences are presented the case of Jovante.  Jovante is a football player who ended up contracting the disease from his partner.  It shows the far reaching impact of the disease and the personal emotion felt by each victim. 

The feeling that each victim experiences illustrate the stigma still attached to the disease even three decades after it first appeared.  That stigma crossed lines of straight and gay.  Even more interesting is that the stigma itself was more self-imposed than having been placed on them by those around the subjects interviewed.  That is one of the most interesting aspects of this documentary.  That victims regardless of straight or gay would self-impose the stigma is a powerful statement.  Some claimed that they didn’t talk about it because they believe the stigma.  But the vibe of the general public was not one of subjugation, but of acceptance.  That comparison is subtle.  But it’s more than enough to generate lots of discussions.

Also sure to create is a segment of the program highlighting former President George W. Bush’s pledge to send aid to Africa to help fight the AIDS epidemic there, too.  It provides the clip from Bush’s State of The Union address in 2003 in which he publicly pledged millions in aid to fight the disease throughout Africa’s nations.  Whether political or otherwise, this is a moment that is certain to lead to discussions, too.  The inclusion of interviews with NBA Magic Johnson will lead to just as many discussions.  It’s interesting the view that some developed on AIDS after seeing that Johnson recovered.  It actually created a hope.  And that sense of hope is what viewers are left with by the program’s end.

While there is still work to be done in terms of education and other aspects, there is hope that cases of AIDS can be vastly reduced if not wiped out with proper education among America’s Black communities.  The education must be spread to African Americans of all ages.  From education about abstinence and contraception to general knowledge about AIDS, it can combine to finally lead to the endgame in question for Aids in Black America.

Endgame:  Aids in Black America is available now on DVD.  It can be ordered direct via PBS’ online store, http://www.shoppbs.org.

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