PBS To Release New Ken Burns Documentary This Spring

Courtesy:  PBS/PBS Distribution

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

This spring PBS and PBS Distribution will release a brand new documentary from acclaimed documentarian Ken Burns.

PBS and PBS Distribution will release Ken Burns’ new documentary Jackie Robinson this spring. The four-hour documentary will be released on April 15th. The timing of the double-disc set, which will be presented both on DVD and Blu-ray, is wholly intentional as it will coincide with Jackie Robinson Day. It follows the life and career of the famed baseball star and the impact that he had both on the diamond and off. That impact is highlighted through discussions from the likes of famed newsman Tom Brokaw, singers Carly Simon and Harry Belafonte, and even President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama among others.

Jackie Robinson is not the first time that Burns has delved in to the baseball world having helmed his documentary Baseball in 1994. In discussing the film Burns explained that the film came from a desire to focus more closely on Robinson after having helmed that docu-series. “Jackie Robinson is the most important figure in our nation’s most important game,” he said. “He gave us our first lasting progress in civil rights since the Civil War and, ever since I finished my BASEBALL series in 1994, I’ve been eager to make a stand-alone film about the life of this courageous American. There was so much more to say not only about Robinson’s barrier-breaking moment in 1947, but about how his upbringing shaped his intolerance for any form of discrimination and how after his baseball career, he spoke out tirelessly against racial injustice, even after his star had begun to dim.”  Audiences can hear Burns discuss his new film at more length in an interview on CBS’ Face The Nation via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUawlPAl5vA.

Jackie Robinson was co-directed by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon. It will be available on Tuesday, April 15th and will be released both on DVD and Blu-ray. The program’s double-disc DVD presentation will retail for MSRP of $24.99 and the double-disc Blu-ray presentation for $29.99. It will also be available in a number of combo packages, from which audiences can choose online and pre-order at http://www.shoppbs.org/search/index.jsp?kwCatId=&kw=ken%20burns%20jackie%20robinson&origkw=Ken+Burns%27+Jackie+Robinson&sr=1. More information on this and other titles from PBS is available online now at:

Website: http://www.pbs.org

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Letters From Jackie Another Great Story Of One Of Baseball’s Greats

Courtesy:  A&E Home Video/MLB Productions

Courtesy: A&E Home Video/MLB Productions

Major League Baseball celebrated a very special anniversary early in 2013.  On April 15th, 2013, fans and players of America’s Past Time celebrated the sixty-sixth anniversary of Brooklyn Dodgers great and groundbreaking player Jackie Robinson’s very first ever major league game.  It was on April 15th, 1947 that Robinson broke the color barrier and became the first ever African-American to play major league baseball.  Every year since that day, Major League Baseball has celebrated Jackie Robinson day on the anniversary of his first game.  This year, the anniversary has been celebrated with more than just celebrations at baseball fields across the country.  It was also celebrated with a major motion picture focusing on Robinson’s life and a documentary from Shout! Factory that was even more enjoyable than the prior.  Now MLB Productions has joined in the celebration with its own documentary on Robinson.  Whereas the previous releases focused largely on Robinson’s life, this latest release, Letters From Jackie: The Private Thoughts of Jackie Robinson focuses exactly on its title; Robinson’s own thoughts put to paper.

Letters From Jackie: The Private Thoughts of Jackie Robinson is a good companion piece to the previously released pair of works from Warner Brothers and Shout! Factory.  The first thing that makes this documentary stand out is its run time.  It comes in at just forty-five minutes long.  This is not counting the end credits, either.  Within that short time-span, the story presented moves at a relatively fast pace.  It’s not too fast for viewers to keep up with the story, either.  And within the context of the production, viewers will be moved to both laughter and tears, hearing Robinson’s words read.

The letters written by Jackie Robinson are both moving and at times entertaining.  Most moving of all is the story of Robinson’s years-long communications with a young white fan, Ron Rabinovitz.  The pen pals’ ongoing letter writing led to a friendship that transcended skin color and even religious backgrounds.  It was a friendship based solely on two individuals’ love of the game of baseball.  Rabinovitz himself even gets to share his thoughts on the letters shared between himself and Robinson.  The fondness with which he remembers Robinson is both entertaining and moving.  Audiences will be brought to smiles hearing Rabinovitz discuss Robinson actually taking him into the Dodgers’ locker room to meet his team mates at the time.  He even presents the baseball signed by Robinson’s team mates.  The really funny moment of that story is when Rabinovitz reveals that Robinson was so caught up in introducing his team mates to Rabinovitz and getting them to sign the ball, that he forgot to sign the ball himself.  Rabinovitz adds, laughing that he didn’t mind because he had so many other items (noting the letters) signed by Robinson.  Viewers even get to see Rabinovitz sharing his memories with one of today’s greats at the 2013 Jackie Robinson Day pre-game.

Rabinovitz shares so many wonderful memories of one of baseball’s greatest names though his interviews.  Along with the stories are pictures of the pair posing together on the field.  They help to add even more interest to the story of Robinson’s own thoughts on how he was viewed during his career.  Those pictures aren’t the only ones shared throughout this near hour-long feature.  Those charged with bringing the program to life also incorporated footage from The Jackie Robinson Story as well as footage from games that he played during his career.  The footage shows both the good and bad of the people who came to the games to see Robinson play.  That footage set against Robinson’s own thoughts on fan support and the lack thereof makes these moments even more interesting for any real baseball history buff.

Whether for the stories shared of Robinson by his family and friends or for the footage of the baseball legend’s career, baseball fans have plenty for which to root in this companion piece to the year’s previously released Robinson tributes.  Audiences will of course find their own interesting and entertaining moments throughout the story.  Being that Major League Baseball is coming up to the annual celebration of the halfway point of its season, thoughts will go back to one of the original All-Stars.  And as thoughts go back to him, this latest story will make for another good look back at that legend in question.  It will be available next Tuesday, July 16th.  It can be ordered online at the MLB Productions store at http://shop.mlb.com/product/index.jsp?productId=21611606.

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