Ken Burns’ ‘Country Music’ Coming to Disc and Digital Sept. 17

Country Music, a documentary series by director and producer Ken Burns, will bow on DVD, Blu-ray and digital Sept. 17 from PBS Distribution coinciding with its national broadcast on PBS.

In the series, Burns chronicles the history of the uniquely American art form, country music. Starting from its early days in the 1920s and following it through the mid-1990s, Burns takes viewers on a journey chronicling “America’s music” in 16 hours on eight discs.

The series focuses on the personal stories of the characters who created and shaped the genre — from the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, Bill Monroe and Bob Wills to Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, Charley Pride, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Garth Brooks and many more — as well as the times and places in which they lived. Much like the music itself, the film tells stories of hardships and joys shared by everyday people. Country Music uncovers the roots of the music, including ballads, minstrel music, hymns and the blues and its early years in the 1920s when it was first recorded and called “hillbilly music.” It then shows how the music sprouted many new branches during the 20th century: Western swing and singing cowboys, bluegrass and honky tonk, rockabilly and the “outlaws,” the smooth Nashville Sound and harder-edged Bakersfield Sound, and many others — showing that country music never was just one style but a broad American mixture that became a major cultural force.

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The DVD and Blu-ray include more than three hours of extra bonus footage that will not be airing, including a behind-the-scenes, making-of featurette and additional material gleaned from hours of interviews.

PBS Offers ‘Downton Abbey’ Series on Disc for Bow of Feature this Fall

PBS Distribution is offering entire series sets and individual seasons of “Downton Abbey” on DVD before the release of the Downton Abbey feature film this fall.

The series, about the splendor, romance, heartbreak, scandal and rumors that flourished both upstairs and downstairs in the Crawley household, became the highest-rated drama on PBS. The ensemble cast of the original six seasons included Dame Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Michelle Dockery, Allen Leech and Joanne Froggatt.

Downton Abbey: The Complete Limited Edition Collector’s Set has all of those six seasons of the Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG Award-winning original series, more than 13 hours of bonus content, and exclusive gifts and keepsakes.

Keepsakes include:

  • a working “Downton Abbey” pull-bell to hang on the wall or stand on a shelf;
  • a set of six cork-based coasters featuring the official “Downton Abbey” crest;
  • “The Costumes of Downton Abbey,” an exclusive photo-filled booklet featuring a forward from executive producer Gareth Neame;
  • and a collectible hardcover book with the 22 discs.

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Season Three of ‘Jamestown,’ Woodstock Doc and ‘NOVA: The Planets’ Among August Titles Coming to Disc and Digital From PBS

American Experience: Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation, NOVA: The Planets and the drama Jamestown, Season 3 are among the titles coming to DVD, Blu-ray and digital from PBS Distribution in August.

Due Aug. 6 on DVD and digital is American Experience: Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation. Filmmaker Barak Goodman’s documentary, which revisits the 1969 Woodstock concert for its 50th Anniversary, explores one of the most influential concerts the country has ever seen. In August 1969, half a million young people from journeyed from every corner of the country to a dairy farm in upstate New York for a concert unprecedented in scope and influence. The film examines the tumultuous decade that led to those three historic days — years that saw the nation deeply divided by Vietnam and racial, generational and sexual politics — through the voices of those who were present for the event that would become the defining moment of the counterculture revolution. Focusing on individuals that were at the concert, including concertgoers, security guards, performers and local residents, the film expands understanding of the event as not only a musical milestone, but a cultural phenomenon that served as a coda to the sixties and a harbinger of the decades to come.

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Also on tap Aug. 6 on DVD and digital is Jamestown, Season 3. From the producers of “Downton Abbey,” the dramatic series follows the lives of three women who decide to leave their dark pasts behind in England and journey across the ocean for a new life in 17th century America. In Season 3, it’s boom time in Jamestown, but success brings the scrutiny of the crown and there are few in the settlement who have nothing to hide. Relations with the Native Americans offer hope and advancement for the settlers until greed for land and a desire for power corrupts those with influence. What ensues is devastating conflict, the fallout of which will shape the New World for centuries to come. The ensemble cast includes Naomi Battrick, Sophie Rundle and Niamh Walsh as the leading female roles. The male leading roles include Max Beesley, Jason Flemyng, Stuart Martin, Kalani Queypo, Abubakar Salim and Raoul Trujillo.

Coming Aug. 27 on DVD, Blu-ray and digital is NOVA: The Planets. Narrated by Zachary Quinto (Star Trek), the series takes viewers on a 4.5 billion-year journey through the story of our solar system, brought to life in new detail revealed by the latest space missions. In five, one-hour episodes, The Planets combines CGI imagery, the latest planetary science research, and footage captured by orbiters, landers and rovers to reveal each planet like never before. Each planet has a unique landscape — from the rocky inner worlds of Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars, to the massive gas giant Jupiter to the mysterious, ringed Saturn to the cold, remote ice worlds of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. The program explores how these extreme features reveal how our solar system formed.

Frontline: Sex Trafficking in America will be released Aug. 6 on DVD and digital. The documentary tells the stories of young women coerced into prostitution and follows one police unit that’s committed to rooting it out. In the film, award-winning director Jezza Neumann and producer Lauren Mucciolo (Poor Kids) immerse themselves with the Phoenix police unit that’s tackling child sexual exploitation, offering an inside look at the lucrative industry through unique access to a series of undercover, high-stakes police operations. They also film with young women who have escaped the trade. What’s revealed is a crime that’s both hidden in plain sight and growing — due in part to social media, where traffickers often start to groom and recruit young women and girls. With extensive and intimate access to local law enforcement, prosecutors, service providers and the women themselves, the film shines a light on the hidden reality of sex trafficking in America.

Aug. 13 comes the “NOVA” production Lost Viking Army on DVD and digital. Forty years ago, a sleepy village in the heart of England was the scene of a gruesome discovery when nearly 300 skeletons were unearthed in a mass grave. No one has been able prove who they were — until now. Bioarchaeologist Cat Jarman believes these bones are the last remains of the “Great Heathen Army,” a legendary Viking fighting force that invaded England in the 9th century and has long been lost to history. Armed with the latest scientific methods, Jarman’s team uncovers extraordinary human stories, including evidence of women warriors and a lost king reunited with his son in death. Filmmakers also use pioneering technology to hunt for the army’s lost camp.

Coming Aug. 6 on DVD and digital is State of the Art, a journey of 100,000 miles and 1,000 destinations in the search of 100 under-recognized American artists for an exhibition. The curatorial team of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark., crisscrossed the nation to find contemporary art happening in unexpected places: the woods of North Carolina, the deserts of Nevada, the backstreets of Pittsburgh, the foothills of Arkansas and the riverbanks of New Orleans. The art and artists found by the team led to a groundbreaking exhibition of 227 works of contemporary art, many of which might otherwise have never been seen. The program captures the personal stories of seven of the diverse artists from this extraordinary exhibit.

Also due Aug. 6 is Tom Lehrer: Live in Copenhagen. Lehrer spent his brief, yet remarkable music career writing and performing satirical songs. Biting, intelligent, and socially conscious, his songs were accessible and intimate commentaries on society and politics in the 1950s and 1960s. Originally filmed for Danish television in September 1967, the film captures a rare concert recording and features many of his best-known songs, including “I Wanna Go Back to Dixie,” “MLF Lullaby,” “We Will All Go Together When We Go,” “When You Are Old And Gray,” “I Hold Your Hand In Mine,” “Send the Marines,” “The Irish Ballad,” “The Elements,” “Smut,” “The Hunting Song,” “My Home Town,” “Who’s Next,” “Poisoning Pigeons In The Park,” “National Brotherhood Week,” “Wernher Von Braun” and “The Vatican Rag.”

‘Molly of Denali’ Streaming on PBS Kids Prime Video Starting July 19

“Molly of Denali,” the first nationally distributed animated series in the U.S. to feature a Native American and Alaska Native lead character, will begin streaming on PBS Kids Prime Video Channel July 19.

The series premieres on PBS Kids July 15th. It follows Molly, her dog Suki and her friends Tooey and Trini on their daily adventures in Alaska.

Also streaming in July are several volumes of “Super Why!,”where kids learn how to read through adventures in Storybrook Village, a three-dimensional world behind shelves in the library, and a new volume of “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” where kids join Daniel and his friends in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe.

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The subscription rate for the PBS Kids Prime Video channel is $4.99 per month with an Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscription.

New Seasons of ‘Masterpiece’ Series ‘Grantchester’ and ‘Endeavor,’ ‘American Experience’ and Other Franchises Coming on Disc and Digital From PBS in July

Season six of “Endeavor” and season four of “Grantchester” from the “Masterpiece” franchise, as well as productions from “American Experience,” “American Masters,” “Nova” and “Frontline” are on the July disc and digital slate from PBS Distribution.

Endeavor: Season 6 debuts July 9 on DVD, Blu-ray and digital. Shaun Evans sports a new look as DS Endeavour Morse in the sixth season of the detective drama, the prequel to the long-running “Inspector Morse” series.  His character faces new challenges, with Morse having started a new role as a uniformed officer at the Woodstock police department and embracing the fashion of the period by growing a moustache. Alongside Evans, the new series sees stage and screen actor Roger Allam return as DI Fred Thursday, alongside Anton Lesser as CS Reginald Bright, Sean Rigby as DS Jim Strange, James Bradshaw as Dr. Max DeBryn, Sara Vickers as Joan Thursday, Abigail Thaw as Dorothea Frazil and Caroline O’Neill as Win Thursday. Following the dissolution of the Oxford City Police and the merging with Thames Valley Constabulary at the end of the last series, the new series picks up with the team dispersed as they find their feet in their various new roles. However, despite their separation, the tragic murder of DC George Fancy still hangs over them both collectively and individually, with the case remaining unresolved.

Due July 30 is Grantchester: Season 4 on DVD, Blu-ray and digital. The series returns with a new vicar. Tom Brittney (OutlanderCall the Midwife) joins the cast as Reverend Will Davenport — man of the people and crime-solving partner to Robson Green’s Geordie Keating in 1950s Grantchester. James Norton, who plays the charismatic, jazz-loving clergyman Sidney Chambers, makes his final appearance during the series. Confident, caring and enigmatic, Grantchester’s new young parish priest channels his boundless energy into a quest for social justice. He is a man of God, but with the devil inside of him. As Geordie draws him into righting the wrongs of criminal Cambridge, Will’s own troubled past is unearthed.

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July 9 comes American Experience: Chasing the Moon on DVD, Blu-ray and digital. This July marks the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing, and the program thoroughly reimagines the race to the moon for a new generation, upending much of the conventional mythology surrounding the effort. The three-part series recasts the Space Age as a stew of scientific innovation and PR savvy, political calculation and media spectacle, visionary impulses and personal drama. With no narration and using only archival footage — including lost or overlooked material — the film features new interviews with a diverse cast of characters who played key roles in these historic events. Among those included are astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Frank Borman, Bill Anders and Poppy Northcutt, the 25-year-old “mathematics whiz” who gained worldwide attention as the first woman to serve in the all-male bastion of NASA’s Mission Control, among others. Chasing the Moon relates how the drive to land a man on the moon was fueled as much by politics as it was by technology and was a controversial undertaking during a volatile time.

Coming July 16 on DVD and digital from the “American Masters” franchise is Robert Shaw: Man of Many Voices. Viewers trace the improbable journey of Shaw’s life and career, from his childhood as a preacher’s son in rural California through his meteoric rise as a star of popular music during the Great Depression. Soon, Shaw made another highly implausible move to classical music where he again achieved stunning success. He founded the groundbreaking Collegiate Chorale, and led choruses for legendary orchestra conductors, including Arturo Toscanini. An early champion of civil rights, his chorales were among the first to break the color barrier in the American South. Shaw performed the music of Bach in the Soviet Union during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and, with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, brought audiences to tears in East Berlin in the darkest days of the Cold War. Shaw believed great music could have a profound influence, whether in individual lives or in bringing communities together. Shaw’s eventful journey is brought to life by interviews with legendary musicians, including Yo-Yo Ma, Sylvia McNair, Alice Parker, Marietta Simpson and Florence Kopleff, among others. Family members, admirers, and friends include President Jimmy Carter and Ambassador Andrew Young. The production is narrated by David Hyde Pierce.

Four programs are coming in July on DVD and digital from the “Frontline” series.

Available now is The Abortion Divide, which offers a window into the sometimes difficult and deeply personal choices women face with unplanned pregnancy — and examines the steadfast belief of the anti-abortion community that there should be no choice at all.  With intimate access, the film follows women struggling with unplanned pregnancies, doctors and nurses who provide abortions, as well as those who counsel women against the procedure.

Coming July 9 is The Last Survivors, which follows men and women who as young children lived through the Holocaust. Now, over 70 years after World War II, the program speaks with some of the last remaining survivors of the tragedy. Drawing on intimate interviews with victims and family members, director Arthur Cary presents a haunting look at how disturbing childhood experiences and unimaginable loss have impacted the daily lives and relationships of survivors — from survivor’s guilt, to crisis of faith, to second-generation trauma.

Also on tap July 9 is Trump’s Trade War. President Donald Trump’s decision to put tariffs on billions of dollars in Chinese imports last year shocked the world — and launched a perilous confrontation between the world’s two largest economic superpowers. The program takes viewers to locations both in the United States and China, drawing on business and government insider accounts to offer a look at the increasingly competitive rivalry between the two countries — a rivalry that extends well beyond just trade and tariffs.

Supreme Revenge, due July 30, chronicles the bitter, partisan battle that played out during Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings. It reflected deep divisions in Washington that may seem unique to America’s current political and social moment, but as the investigation reveals, the intense politicization on display during the Supreme Court confirmation process — and the transformation of the Court itself — has been a shift decades in the making.

Four programs are coming from “Nova” on DVD and digital in July.

First Horse Warriors, due July 16, investigates the advent of horse riding, a momentous step in human history. Horses vastly expanded long-distance travel and trade, made the herding of other livestock possible, and led to the rise of formidable mounted warriors who changed the fate of nations. But when and how did our ancestors first learn to master these animals? The program unlocks the mystery on the grassy plains of Kazakhstan, where wild horses still roam free, and nomadic herders follow their traditional way of life. Investigating clues from archaeology and genetics, researchers reveal vivid evidence of the very first horsemen.

Also coming July 16 is Saving the Dead Sea, exploring salt-encrusted shores that were the backdrop of Old Testament drama and the source of Cleopatra’s beauty treatments. But the Dead Sea is dying. Since 1976, its level has dropped more than 100 feet. Its coastline is pockmarked with thousands of sinkholes. After more than a decade of research and debate, scientists, engineers and political leaders have come up with a plan: connect the Red Sea with the Dead Sea by way of a massive desalination plant. If it’s successful, the project could not only revive the sea but also help ease political tensions and water shortages in the region. NOVA follows what is perhaps the world’s largest water chemistry experiment as scientists and engineers race to save the Dead Sea and bring water to one of the driest regions on Earth.

Coming July 30 is Inside the Megafire, about the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history. As residents raced to evacuate, the Camp Fire devoured 150,000 acres and claimed 86 lives. How did it get so big so fast? Why are megafires like these becoming more common? “Nova” goes to the front lines of the deadliest fires of California’s 2018 fire season to hear from the people who had to flee and from the scientists racing to understand what’s behind these record-breaking infernos. Researchers take to the forest, and even a fire lab, to understand the increasing megafire threat.

Also due July 30 from “Nova” is Back to the Moon. On the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s historic moon landing, Nova looks ahead to the hoped-for dawn of a new age in space travel. This time, governments and private industry are sharing the work of reaching our nearest celestial neighbor. But why go back? The reasons are varied. The Moon can serve as a platform for basic astronomical research, as an abundant source of precious materials like rare metals and hydrogen fuel, and ultimately as a stepping stone for human missions to Mars, the Asteroid Belt, and beyond.

Season Four of “Grantchester,” Season One of “Walter Presents: Killer by the Lake” Coming in July to PBS Masterpiece’s Prime Video Channel

Two murder mystery crime thrillers, Grantchester: Season 4 and Walter Presents: Killer by the Lake — Season 1, will begin streaming in July on the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel.

The fourth season of “Grantchester,” streaming starting July 15, marks the final appearance of James Norton as crime-solving Vicar Sidney Chambers and introduces Tom Brittney (“Outlander,” “Call the Midwife”) as new cast member Reverend Will Davenport.

Walter Presents: Killer by the Lake, Season 1

“Walter Presents: Killer by The Lake” is the follow up to the hit French thriller, “Vanished by the Lake.” The series revisits troubled detective Lise who has started a new life with her husband and baby. The happy, rural idyll is suddenly shattered with the discovery of two dead women. Season one starts streaming July 19.

The subscription rate for the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel is $5.99 per month with an Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscription.

PBS Kids Launches Spanish-Language Shows on Amazon Prime Video Channel

PBS Distribution has launched Spanish-language versions of a variety of PBS Kids programs on the PBS Kids Amazon Prime Video Channel.

Spanish-language versions of “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” “Dinosaur Train,” “Scigirls,” “Cyberchase” and “Caillou” debuted on the PBS Kids Amazon Prime Video Channel May 24.

“We’re excited to expand our PBS KIDS channel offering to include a selection of episodes presented in Spanish,” said Andrea Downing, co-president, PBS Distribution, in a statement. “Our aim is to provide educational and entertaining programming for all kids, and this expansion helps further that mission.”

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The launch includes a total of 30 episodes of PBS Kids programming available in Spanish. Subscribers of the PBS Kids Amazon Prime Channel will not need to pay any extra fee for the newly available programs.

DEG’s New ‘4 Cups of Coffee’ Mentoring Program

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group on June 5 kicked off a new mentoring program, “4 Cups of Coffee,” at the “Cocktails & Coffee” event at Sony  Studios in the Norman Lear Commissary. Under the program, the DEG’s Canon Club will match women in search of mentors with one of its advisors or other women executives for 30-minute career conversations, either in person or over the phone, up to four times per year. The Canon Club was established by DEG to provide women at all levels and in all sectors of digital media the opportunity to share knowledge and build their business networks. Last month, the DEG announced the appointment of 10 advisory board members to provide input on Canon Club event programming, rotate as host at speaker-driven salons and social/networking events, serve as founding mentors in the “4 Cups of Coffee” program, and judge the annual Hedy Lamarr Awards for Women in Entertainment and Technology, among other responsibilities. The advisory board is led by chair Robin Tarufelli of Deloitte, and vice chair Meri Hassouni of Giant Interactive. Other members are Loren Nielsen, DTS; Sofia Chang, HBO; Dametra Johnson-Marletti, Microsoft; Karin Gilford, Movies Anywhere; Andrea Downing, PBS Distribution; Cheryl Goodman, Sony Electronics; Nadia Haney, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment; and Darcy Antonellis, Vubiquity. Other Canon Club mentors include Beth Kearns, 20th Century Fox; Heathyr Jozel-Garcia, ABC Studios; Samara Winterfeld, DTS; Ken Williams, ETC@USC; Kejo Swingler, HBO; and Rachel Crang, Paramount Pictures.

‘Splash and Bubbles: The Kelp Forest’ Swimming to DVD May 21 from PBS

Splash and Bubbles: The Kelp Forest, including six episodes from the series, will be available on DVD May 21 from PBS Distribution.

In “Cleaner of the Kelp,” Splash, Bubbles and Dunk meet the self-appointed Kelp Forest Ranger, Tidy, the Garibaldi fish. Then Splash and Bubbles are on seal-sitting duties with a fearless seal pup named Tyke. All are having fun in the kelp forest until Splash and Bubbles can’t find Tyke during a game of hide-and-seek. In the episode “The Kelp Needs Help,” some Asterina starfish end up in the Kelp Forest, where they don’t belong. Splash, Bubbles and Tidy must dive into action before the starfish eat all the kelp. In “Mrs. Tidy,” Tidy is expecting a new partner to arrive — a female Garibaldi fish named Neat. While Tidy stays busy cleaning the kelp forest, Splash and friends get Mrs. Tidy mixed up with another fish, one who’s not a good fit in the kelp forest. Other episodes included on the DVD are “The Seal Sitters,” “Tyke and Seek” and “Kelp Forest Keepers.”

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Episodes featured on the DVD will also be streaming on PBS Kids Prime Channel.

‘Reborn,’ ‘The Court’ and ‘Rough Justice’ From ‘Walter Presents’ Library Streaming in May From PBS

PBS Distribution will begin streaming three international crime dramas from the “Walter Presents” library on the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel in May.

The channel is available to Prime members for $5.99 a month after a seven-day free trial.

Streaming beginning May 10 is “Reborn,” a French crime-thriller taking witness-protection to a whole new level. Felon Alexis Marceau gives up his criminal friends in exchange for immunity. With his new identity, he also has reconstructive surgery to make him unidentifiable. Six years later, he is known as Matthias Leblanc. He is working in Turin, Italy, as a construction worker when judge Delphine Baron offers to revoke his house arrest, in exchange for three months of service. This means working undercover at his old job where he and his partner ran a small shipping business controlling the traffic of illicit goods. Matthias is hesitant but accepts — no one knows he’s alive or will recognize his new face. But he knows the people, place and methods better than anyone. Once undercover and back in Dunkirk, Alexis struggles to keep away from his ex-wife and son. And to make matters worse, his affection for his old life returns — the camaraderie, the easy money and the adrenaline.

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Streaming beginning May 24 is the second season of “The Court.” The Icelandic legal drama follows the professional and personal lives of three Reykjavik lawyers — Logi, Brynhildur and Hordur. Logi is one of the country’s most brilliant legal minds and the most troubled. He’s determined to uncover the truth about what really happened one night in his youth, an incident that left a man dead and Logi in prison for manslaughter. However, his internal demons threaten to send him spiraling into alcoholism. Standing between Logi and self-destruction are his two lawyer colleagues — Brynhildur and Hordur — whose own private lives are far from simple.

Streaming beginning May 31 is the Belgian crime drama “Rough Justice.” Set in Antwerp, Belgium, the series, based on the novels by Toni Coppers, follows superintendent Liese Meerhout as she leads her close-knit team in the homicide division to the bottom of the city’s darkest crimes. Always seeking to protect the vulnerable and maintain justice, she is not afraid to push the boundaries to get to the bottom of even the most complex cases — usually using unorthodox methods. But when haunting emails from an anonymous sender start appearing in her inbox, a case she thought she had long put behind her resurfaces, and the usually steely and implacable superintendent becomes unnerved.