Media Play News on Jan. 22 announced that Andrea Downing, co-president of PBS Distribution, will receive the fourth annual Media Play Fast Forward Award, which honors people, technologies, organizations, products or services that move the home entertainment industry forward.
With more than 25 years’ experience in the home entertainment business, industry leader Downing is being honored for her exceptional, broad and groundbreaking role at PBS Distribution. She has led the evolution of the organization from a start-up focused on physical goods to a global distribution company of public media content around the world. Her focus on adapting to the media landscape has led to five subscription streaming channels — PBS Masterpiece, PBS Kids, PBS Living, PBS Documentaries and PBS America (U.K.). In addition to licensing content on DVD and Blu-ray, she has also spearheaded the company’s move into transactional video-on-demand; subscription video-on-demand; theatrical releasing; and educational, non-theatrical, inflight and international program sales and co-productions.
“I am extremely honored to be recognized by Media Play News with the Media Play Fast Forward Award — particularly when I consider how many of my peers are doing incredible work in extraordinary times,” said Downing. “The home entertainment market has changed dramatically over the last 10 years, and we have all had to learn to pivot quickly and anticipate what will come next. But no one anticipated a global pandemic, and we have been tested mightily this past year.
“I also recognize that I would not have received the award without the incredible dedication and talent of the PBS Distribution team. I am so proud that they continuously pivot to face our challenges and opportunities and develop innovative ways to address and capitalize on them, all while supporting each other and maintaining our company values. It is an honor to lead this team each and every day and contribute to the public television system’s mission of giving voice to all Americans.”
Last year, the Media Play Fast Forward Award went to Eddie Cunningham, president of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. In 2019, the award went to digital retailers Cameron Douglas of FandangoNow, Galen Smith of Redbox On Demand, Google Play Movies & TV’s Jonathan Zepp and the team at Apple iTunes. The previous year, the inaugural Media Play Fast Forward Award was shared by the Fox Innovation Lab and Movies Anywhere.
The Media Play Fast Forward awards are an outgrowth of the Home Entertainment Visionary Awards, which were launched in 2002 by the now-defunct Home Media Magazine. Comcast’s Brian Roberts was the 2017 honoree. Warren Lieberfarb, the father of DVD, was the first Visionary Award winner, back in 2002. Other honorees have included Sony Pictures’ Ben Feingold, Samsung’s Tim Baxter, and Walmart’s Louis Greth and Chris Nagelson.
Downing will be profiled in the March issue of Media Play News.
American Masters: How It Feels to Be Free, season seven of “Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.” and Ken Burns: Here and There are among the programs debuting on the PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel in January.
The subscription rate for the PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel is $3.99 per month with an Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscription.
American Masters: How It Feels to Be Free starts streaming Jan. 19. From Award-winning director Yoruba Richen and based on the book of the same name, the program tells the inspiring story of how six iconic African American female entertainers, Lena Horne, Abbey Lincoln, Nina Simone, Diahann Carroll, Cicely Tyson and Pam Grier, challenged an entertainment industry deeply complicit in perpetuating racist stereotypes, and transformed themselves and their audiences in the process. The documentary features interviews and archival performances with all six women, as well as original conversations with contemporary artists influenced by them, including one of the documentary’s executive producers Alicia Keys, along with Halle Berry, Lena Waithe, Meagan Good, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Samuel L. Jackson and many others. The documentary also includes interviews with family members, including Horne’s daughter Gail Lumet Buckley.
Season seven of “Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.” is due Jan. 20. Over the course of 10 episodes, Gates uses genealogical detective work and cutting-edge DNA analysis to guide twenty influential guests through the branches of their family trees, traveling hundreds of years into the past to discover people and places long forgotten. The season features actors Glenn Close, John Lithgow, Jane Lynch, Christopher Meloni, and Tony Shalhoub; Broadway stars Audra McDonald and Mandy Patinkin; filmmakers Kasi Lemmons and John Waters; talk show host and author Andy Cohen; journalists Gretchen Carlson, Maria Hinojosa, Don Lemon, and Nina Totenberg; comedians Lewis Black, Jim Gaffigan, and Roy Wood, Jr.; and musicians Clint Black, Rosanne Cash, and Pharrell Williams.
Ken Burns: Here and There debuts Jan. 1. The biography is about the life and work of the documentary filmmaker and follows the story of his love for filmmaking and storytelling, the evolution of his career throughout the years, his fondness of small-town life, and his love for a bridge in Brooklyn. Filled with small stories and monologues, this program captures the 40-year intimate relationship Burns has with his America, with his colleagues, his family, his community, his craft, and taking sweeping historical concepts and making them relatable to his audiences.
Four new “Masterpiece” programs and several international series will be streaming on the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel in January.
“Masterpiece” titles include a new adaptation of “All Creatures Great and Small,” starring Dame Diana Rigg in one of her last appearances, the newest “Masterpiece Mystery” installment “Miss Scarlet & the Duke,” “Elizabeth Is Missing” based on the acclaimed novel starring Oscar-winner Glenda Jackson, and “The Long Song” based on the award-winning novel.
The subscription rate for the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel is $5.99 per month with an Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscription.
“Elizabeth Is Missing,” debuting Jan. 3, stars Jackson as the feisty grandmother Maud Horsham, a woman desperately trying to solve two mysteries as she declines ever deeper into dementia. Maud’s only friend, Elizabeth, ominously goes missing, leaving Maud determined to find her. The other mystery in Maud’s mind is a puzzle from her past, kindled when she unearths the top of an old cosmetics compact while gardening with Elizabeth. The discovery takes Maud back to her teenaged self and like many younger siblings, Maud looked up to her big sister, Sukey, considering her the height of glamour. This childhood idyll ended with Sukey’s failure to come home one night in 1949, never to be seen again. As Maud thinks back on it, she wonders if the family’s lodger at the time, Douglas, had anything to do with Sukey’s vanishing. And the cryptic warnings from the long-ago mad woman with the umbrella only deepens the riddle. In her increasingly disoriented perception, the disappearances of Sukey and now Elizabeth get mixed up. She attacks the problem with a system she uses around the house: sticky notes, posted everywhere, documenting daily reminders to herself — mostly about locking the door or turning off the stove, but also recording her meetings with Elizabeth and chance observations. Maud’s granddaughter, Katy, helps her arrange the notes. As memories, clues, and deductions pile up, viewers come to see the world as Maud does, and solve the mystery as this tenacious, vision-haunted sleuth does.
“All Creatures Great and Small,” debuting Jan. 10, is based on the autobiographical books by James Herriot and tells the adventures of a veterinarian in 1930s Yorkshire. The series takes place in 1937, when James Herriot, fresh out of Glasgow Veterinary College, follows his dream to become a vet in the magnificent Yorkshire Dales, one of England’s most beloved and beautiful landscapes. He soon discovers that treating the animals is as much about treating their owners, and the Dales’ farmers are a tough crowd to please. At Skeldale House, James gets to know his newly formed dysfunctional family: his chaotic and erratic boss Siegfried Farnon, his wayward brother Tristan and the shrewd Mrs. Hall, who is endlessly steering the ship. When local beauty Helen Alderson attracts James’s attention, he finds another, more enduring reason to stay in the Dales. The late Dame Diana Rigg plays Mrs. Pumphrey, the delightfully eccentric owner of the overly indulged Pekingese Tricki Woo.
“Miss Scarlet & the Duke,” coming Jan. 17, is set in the same 1850s London society that gave rise to Jack the Ripper. The Victorian detective drama features a fearless, independent heroine played by Kate Phillips (“Peaky Blinders”). With her inquisitive mind, Miss Eliza Scarlet has always been more interested in running her late father’s detective agency than behaving like a proper lady, much to the chagrin of family friend Inspector William Wellington of Scotland Yard (Stuart Martin, “Jamestown”). But nothing has prepared her for the dangers she is about to face as a woman in the murder investigation trade.
“The Long Song,” due Jan. 31, is an adaptation of the award-winning novel by Andrea Levy set during the final days of slavery in 19th century Jamaica. The story follows the strong-willed, young slave July on a sugar plantation owned by her odious mistress Caroline Mortimer. When a charming new arrival to the island, Robert Goodwin, becomes the new overseer, July and Caroline are both intrigued by his seemingly revolutionary determination to improve the plantation for the slaves and mistress alike.
“As Time Goes By: Reunion Specials,” available Jan 26, is the continuation to the long running series “As Time Goes By.” “Reunion Specials” follows up as Jean Pargetter’s (Dame Judi Dench) great anticipation for grandchildren is revealed much to husband Lionel’s (Geoffrey Palmer) dismay. With son-in-law Alistair and daughter Judy having problems things don’t look too promising. But will Jean’s dream of becoming a grandmother come true when their other daughter Sandy and her husband Harry return from Canada?
Also due in January are five “Walter Presents” series.
The French series “Walter Presents: Due North” is streaming starting Jan. 1. Set on the verge of the 20th century, “True North” is the untold story of the colonization of the Laurentian mountain rage in Quebec known as the “Wild West.” The series explores the turbulent period of the settlement and development of this northern region of Canada as the territory wreaks havoc on the new colony and an array of colorful characters try to make their mark
The German series “Walter Presents: The Nordic Murders” is coming Jan. 8. On the secluded island of Usedom off the north shore of Germany, former district attorney Karin Lossow has just been released from prison after serving a six-year sentence for shooting her husband. Her daughter Julia is the Detective Chief Inspector and their fragile relationship is put to the test as they team up to investigate criminal cases on the island.
The French-language series “Walter Presents: The Wall” is coming Jan. 15. In the remote Canadian mining colony Fremote, in the endless frozen hell that is the far North, the body of a young exotic dancer is found. The Quebec City police sends one of their toughest, most experienced detectives, Céline, to the colony to investigate. She is always up for a challenge. Being cooped up in the massive structure that is the colony which the inhabitants call “The Wall,” soon presents her with some challenges that exceed her investigative efforts. Not only does everyone here seem to have a secret and a connection to the victim, Céline’s own past has a way of catching up with her. Her estranged daughter Sophie has built a life of her own in the very same icy middle of nowhere where Céline is currently working. As Céline comes under increased pressure to find the killer of the dancer, she has to connect the dots to the suspicious death of a young boy three years ago. The inhabitants of the mine each think they know exactly who the culprit is, creating a sense of distrust and alarm among the community, but one fear is always present: will the murderer strike again soon?
Season three of the Italian series “Walter Presents: Rocco Schiavone” starts streaming Jan. 22. Deputy Police Commissioner Rocco Schiavone finds himself more and more alone, in the increasingly colder and inhospitable city of Aosta, forced to come to terms with everything that has happened. His best friend, Sebastiano, is under house arrest and refuses to speak to him as he’s convinced that Rocco had him arrested before he could kill Enzo Baiocchi, the man who murdered his wife. Rocco’s future doesn’t look great after Sebastiano escapes house arrest and everything in Rocco’s life starts to fall apart. It appears that he has no choice but to escape, leaving no trace of his whereabouts.
From the acclaimed novel by Louise Edrich comes the adapted historical German drama “Walter Presents: The Master Butcher,” due Jan. 29. After the social and financial destruction caused by World War I in Germany, a German butcher, and former military sniper, attempts to create a better life for himself and his family by moving to the United States. As the family struggles to acclimate to their new surroundings, many unexpected events occur, necessitating their plans and their lives to drastically adapt.
The perennial animated holiday classic A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving apparently didn’t entice viewers to Apple TV+ or PBS, the exclusive distributors of the Emmy Award-winning 1973 special.
New data from Samba TV found 670,000 domestic households watched or streamed “Charlie Brown” in the nine days following its Nov. 20 release on Apple TV+ and Nov. 22 bow on PBS. That was 67% fewer viewers than the 2 million households than tuned into ABC TV to watch the show last year.
The largest single-day total viewership was on Nov 22 when Charlie aired on PBS with 381,000 households tuning in. Thanksgiving itself drew just 140,000 households tuning in, according to Samba.
Other holiday viewing traditions such as football and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade fared only slightly better. The parade saw a 3% uptick in viewers to 12.1 million households. The Houston Texans win over the Detroit Lions on CBS drew 13.1 million households, which was down 6% from 2019 when the game was on Fox Sports.
Another 13.2 million households watched The Washington Football Team best the hapless NFC East Dallas Cowboys on Fox, which was down 12% compared to the same time last Thanksgiving when the game was on NBC.
The documentary film Driving While Black is streaming now on PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel.
From Emmy award-winning Ric Burns and Gretchen Sorin, the film explores the deep background of a recent phrase rooted in realities that have been an indelible part of the African-American experience for hundreds of years. Chronicling the riveting history and personal experiences of African-Americans on the road from the advent of the automobile through the seismic changes of the 1960s and beyond, Driving While Black examines the history of African-Americans on the road from the depths of the Depression to the height of the Civil Rights movement and beyond, exploring the deeply embedded dynamics of race, space and mobility in America.
Driving While Black utilizes archive material from the period — including footage, photographs, advertisements, road signs, maps, letters and legal records — and weaves together oral histories and the on-camera insights of scholars, writers, musicians and ordinary American travelers. The film also delves deeply into the history of The Green Book, the travel guide authored by New York City mailman Victor Hugo Green. From a first edition focused on the Northeast, Green expanded his guide to include much of the country, providing travel tips for African Americans driving, including safe and welcoming places to stop, dine and rest, as well as places to avoid, given the potential for racially motivated violence. “Vacation without aggravation,” the book advised African American families planning a road trip.
New volumes of “Molly of Denali,” “Let’s Go Luna” and “Pinkalicious & Peterrific,” as well as a “Sid the Science Kid” movie, will be coming to the PBS Kids Prime Video Channel in December.
The subscription rate for the PBS KIDS Prime Video Channel is $4.99 per month with an Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscription.
Volume six of “Let’s Go Luna” debuts Dec. 4. In four new episodes, Luna continues traveling the globe with her group of friends from Juneau, Alaska, to Barcelona, and the group learn many life lessons along the way. In the episode “Nature Calls/Story Story,” Leo is nervous about wild animals wandering around Juneau, but he realizes animals need their own space and that we must all learn to live together. Then, Carmen wants to find a book to share with her mom, and during the process learns to appreciate the tradition of Native Alaskan spoken-word storytelling. In “More Than All That Jazz/Swamp Pals,” Carmen discovers that the joy of music doesn’t just come from fancy instruments. In “Lost and Found/Time of Goodbye,” Señor Fabuloso has lost his creativity and searches for it in his hometown of Barcelona.
In volume seven of “Molly of Denali,” coming Dec. 11, kids join the curious Molly Mabray and her friends on adventures around Alaska learning about traditional Alaska Native values along the way in five new episodes. Auntie Midge loves to emcee the Spring Carnival, but a hurt hip takes her out of commission, so Molly and Tooey work to figure out a way that will allow her to get around in the snow in “Spring Carnival/Tooey’s Hole-i-day Sweater.” Molly and Tooey try to fix a hand-me-down Christmas sweater knit by Tooey’s Grandma before she arrives for the holidays. Then, in “King Run/The Native Youth Olympics,” it’s salmon season and the first order of business at fish camp is to help Grandpa Nat fix the broken fish wheel.
In Sid the Science Kid: The Movie, due Dec. 17, Sid and his pal Gabriela have won a contest to explore the brand new Super Ultimate Science Museum. However, while they’re on their tour, Bobbybot, the state-of-the-art robotic tour guide of the future, completely malfunctions. Then, it’s up to Sid and Gabriela, along with the other winners, YangYang and NiuNiu from China, to fix Bobbybot and save the museum.
Four episodes of “Pinkalicious & Peterrific” come out Dec. 18. In volume nine of the series, the Pinkertons are shocked to find their house is suddenly swarming with Flutterbugs and everyone is wondering what could possibly be drawing them into their home in “Invasion of the Flutterbugs/Ballet of the Bells.” Then, Pinkalicious and Peterrific are thrilled to meet a real-life pirate in “Treasure Hunt/Cheer Up, Archie” and the three of them join hands to search for a long-lost buried treasure. Plus, Pinkalicious decides to create polka dot art and Lila learns that her new glasses aren’t anything to be embarrassed about in “PinkaPolka Dotty/Lila Gets Glasses.”
The Hugh Laurie thriller “Masterpiece: Roadkill,” season two of “Great Performances: Now Hear This” and a duo of “Nova” programs are among the titles coming to DVD from PBS Distribution in December.
The new political thriller “Roadkill” from Academy Award nominee David Hare (The Reader, The Hours) comes out on DVD Dec. 15. The series stars Laurie as Peter Laurence, a self-made forceful and charismatic politician. Peter’s public and private life seem to be falling apart — or rather are being picked apart by his enemies. As his personal revelations spiral, he is shamelessly untroubled by guilt or remorse, expertly walking a high wire between glory and catastrophe as he seeks to further his own agenda, while others plot to bring him down. However, events show just how hard it is, for both an individual and a country, to leave the past behind. Helen McCrory (The Queen, “Harry Potter”), Sidse Babett Knudsen (“Westworld,” Inferno) and Millie Brady (“The Last Kingdom,” Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) also star.
Season two of “Great Performances: Now Hear This” is due Dec. 1. Viewers join Scott Yoo, renowned violinist and conductor of the Mexico City Philharmonic, in a four-part documentary miniseries that merges music, storytelling, travel and culture, as Yoo chases the secret histories of some of the greatest music ever written.
Also coming Dec. 1 is Nova: Human Nature, a feature-length film exploring the science, history, and ethics of a revolutionary gene-editing technology and its applications.
American Masters: Keith Haring — Street Art Boy is a biographical documentary coming out Dec. 8. International art sensation Keith Haring blazed a trail through the legendary art scene of 1980s New York and revolutionized the worlds of pop culture and fine art. Haring’s message targeted the underlying threat of violence, sexual exploitation and political oppression. His art was shown in more than 100 group and solo exhibitions during his lifetime and he continues to be celebrated today.
Also due Dec. 8 are Nova: Secret Mind of Slime and Secrets of Royal Travel. Nova: Secret Mind of Slime explores the questions and science behind the “intelligence” of slime molds. These creatures are not animals, nor plants, nor fungi, yet they appear to learn and to make decisions without brains, expanding the boundaries of intelligence beyond the animal kingdom. Secrets of Royal Travel tells the inside story of the monarchy on the move, taking viewers inside some of the most famous, yet exclusive, transport systems around the globe with select interviews of royal staff.
Coming Dec. 15 is The Queen and the Coup, a documentary about the happenings in February 1953, the first anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, during which she is about to be deployed in a U.S. plot to topple Iran’s last democratic leader in favor of an all-powerful Shah.
Finally, Dec. 22 comes Nova: A to Z — The First Alphabet and How Writing Changed the World. The documentary explores the history of writing. Just as writing changed the course of human history, the evolution of paper and printing revolutionized the spread of information. While the invention of paper boosted Chinese and Islamic societies, the simple fact that the Latin alphabet could be printed using a small number of discrete, repetitive symbols helped popularize moveable type, handing Europe a crucial advantage at the beginning of the Renaissance. The printing press itself kicked off the scientific revolution that fast-tracked us to the current digital age.
In a marketing twist, the “Peanuts” specials A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and A Charlie Brown Christmas will stream on Apple TV+, in addition to airing ad-free on PBS and PBS Kids on Nov. 22 (7:30 p.m. local time/6:30 p.m. CT) and Dec. 13 (7:30 p.m. local time/6:30 p.m. CT), respectively.
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving will start streaming on Apple TV+ Nov. 18, and the special will be available for free from Nov. 25 through Nov. 27. The Peanuts gang will also deck the halls with the premiere of A Charlie Brown Christmas, streaming on Apple TV+ on Dec. 4. The holiday special will be available for free from Dec. 11 through Dec. 13.
After its launch on Nov. 1, 2019, Apple TV+ became the first all-original streaming service to launch around the world, and has premiered more original hits and received more award recognitions faster than any other streaming service. Apple Originals have been honored with 120 awards nominations and 39 wins and accolades in 12 months, including a Primetime Emmy Award, Daytime Emmy Awards, SAG Award, NAACP Image Award, Critics Choice Award, Peabody Award and more.
DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group Nov. 9 presented its fourth annual Hedy Lamarr Award for Innovation in Entertainment Technology to Sara DeWitt, VP of PBS Kids Digital.
The DEG created the Innovation Award to recognize female executives in the fields of entertainment and technology who have made a significant contribution to the industry.
DeWitt was surprised by presenters in masks and gloves who gave her the award in her home during the virtual event.
“A fun thing about this being virtual is that my whole family is here with me,” DeWitt said, surrounded by her kids and husband.
“Sara oversees PBS kids streaming video services, the PBS kids games app and PBSkids.org, which collectively serve over 13.5 million visitors each month,” said PBS CEO Paula Kerger, who introduced DeWitt. “Under her leadership PBS Kids has produced and published cutting-edge experiences for children from AR games and podcasts to game video hybrids and texting programs. Her drive to understand how digital media can impact children’s learning has yielded profound findings from a variety of research studies, and she’s established the gold standard for children’s digital privacy and security.”
DeWitt paid tribute to Lamarr, an Austrian-American actress who was a Hollywood legend and lifelong inventor whose innovative work included pioneering “frequency hopping,” which became the foundation for spread spectrum technology. Conceived by Lamarr and composer George Antheil for radio guidance systems and patented in 1942, this highly secure technology resists interference and dropout, and is utilized today for a variety of cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth applications. PBS chronicled her life in the “American Masters” documentary Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story.
“I loved this story of this glamorous movie star moonlighting as a technological powerhouse, but I think what struck me the most as I watched that ‘American Masters’ documentary Bombshell was how long it took for her contributions to come to light, that silence of 50 years from the time that she received her patent for the idea of frequency hopping to the time of actual public recognition for it,” DeWitt said. “And when I think about that piece of the story I get really frustrated. I hope many of you are as well. It just reemphasizes for me the importance of amplifying the successes of women here and now, women in technical fields, women in my own organization, women in our community. It reaffirms to me too how critical it is to provide opportunities for more voices, for those underrepresented in our industry to be heard and celebrated so that no one has to wait 50 years for their groundbreaking work to come to light.”
DeWitt, who was a teacher before joining PBS, stressed the power of programming in helping kids envision their future.
“The media that we create has so much power to introduce kids to places and to people that they’ve never know about before,” she said. “Good storytelling has the power to help children imagine exciting possibilities for themselves and good technology can help even more children gain access to the tools and the resources that they need to realize these possibilities. I hope that our innovation at PBS Kids can inspire all children and all of those little girls in our audience to think big and to think about their own future to create new inventions and new art and new discoveries that won’t take 50 years to be recognized.”
The DEG also virtually presented the Hedy Lamarr Achievement Award for Emerging Leaders in Entertainment Technology, which recognizes female college students whose studies in the fields of entertainment and technology have shown exceptional promise. The Emerging Leader award was presented to Molly Mielke, who is earning her bachelor’s degree in film, TV and digital media at UCLA. Mielke will receive a financial award to continue her education. Her work can be found on her website, mollymielke.com.
Lamarr’s son Anthony Loder also joined the virtual event.
“It’s wonderful that you’re sharing her legacy forward in history while making history of your own,” he said.
Nominations for the 2021 awards are open Nov. 10 on the DEG website.
PBS Distribution is releasing six new programs on DVD and digitally this November, including all three seasons of the “Masterpiece” period drama “Victoria” and the documentary series The Age of Nature narrated by Uma Thurman.
Nov. 3 comes a boxed set of all three seasons of the drama “Victoria,” starring Jenna Coleman as Queen Victoria. The account of the life of one of history’s greatest monarchs begins as Victoria takes her first faltering steps from capricious, hormonal teenager to respected monarch, while navigating palace intrigue and constitutional crises alongside an epic romance with her cousin Prince Albert (Tom Hughes). As Victoria’s reign continues, she must face the very modern challenge of balancing life as a mother and wife with her work as ruler of the most powerful nation on Earth. As the lavish saga unfolds against the backdrop of pivotal moments in history, the Queen and Prince Albert must meet each public challenge while confronting profound personal change.
Due Nov. 24 is Frontline: Policing the Police 2020. Writer and historian Jelani Cobb examines allegations of police abuse and the challenge of fixing a broken relationship within a community. Policing the Police 2020 is a provocative journey inside one police force that’s been ordered to reform by the Department of Justice: the Newark Police Department in New Jersey, which was found to have a pattern of civil rights abuses against the city’s black residents. Viewers will take a nuanced glimpse into how topics surrounding the national discussion about race and policing are playing out every day on the streets of Newark, in community members’ homes, and in the city’s police precincts. Cobb gives viewers a raw and complex look at the challenge of changing how cops operate in a place like Newark, a poor city plagued by violent crime, where the victims and the perpetrators are usually black, and the police force itself is largely black and Latino. The documentary examines the difficulties of fixing a broken relationship with the community after decades of mutual mistrust, and includes candid interviews with Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, who is now trying to shake up the department from the inside.
The Age of Nature comes out Nov. 3. Narrated by Uma Thurman, this three-part documentary series brings together inspirational contributors, rare archive material, and stunning imagery from all around the world, to give viewers a deeper understanding of nature and our place within it. The series explores humanity’s relationship with nature and wildlife, as scientists and conservationists from all over the world examine ways we can restore our planet. It also explores how an increased awareness of the natural world could lead to a new chapter in the story of both humanity and the planet. With stunning photography, the series focuses on the resiliency of Earth’s ecosystems through stories of success, as scientists, citizens, and governments act to fix past mistakes and restore the environment. Filmed on seven continents, The Age of Nature presents creative ideas from around the globe for dealing with such pressing issues as climate change, animal extinction and environmental degradation. Each episode highlights some of the latest scientific research that helps us understand the workings of the planet and explores effective strategies for restoring the environment, re-wilding landscapes, and maintaining a balance between species.
The drama The Trouble With Maggie Cole is due Nov. 10. In the drama, idle gossip escalates out of control and starts to affect people’s lives. Set in a picturesque fishing village, the series centers on Maggie Cole, the self-appointed oracle of the close-knit community of Thurlbury. When a radio journalist interviews Cole (Dawn French, “The Vicar of Dibley”) for a small piece about local life in their tiny coastal community, she gives him far more detail and embellishment about the locals and their personal lives than he was looking for. As the interview is played in full, all the guarded secrets, indiscretions, and gossip are broadcast for the whole county to hear, changing life in Thurlbury forever. In the days and weeks following the show’s broadcast, Maggie’s overzealous chit-chat gets her into serious hot water, as the fallout from her very public gossip-fest disrupts the lives of her fellow residents. Packed full of comedy, intrigue and suspense, The Trouble with Maggie Cole is a warmly humorous yet distinctly cautionary tale about the perils of passing on unfounded gossip.
Lucy Worsley’s Royal Palace Secrets comes out Nov. 17. In this new installment from historian and Chief Curator of England’s Historic Royal Palaces, Worsley invites viewers into three iconic London palaces: the Tower of London, Hampton Court and Kensington Palace. Viewers learn about the Tower of London’s terrifying past, Hampton Court’s magnificent display of Tudor power and Kensington Palace’s role in the making of a modern royal family. Wide-angle shots of beautiful ballrooms, secret passages and Baroque gardens provide context for Worsley’s captivating tales of royals and their private lives.
The four-part series Hacking Your Mind is due Nov. 24. It takes you inside the world of hackers — from presidential campaigns and social media companies, to corporate marketers and governments — revealing how they influence your behavior without your even being aware of it. The series is hosted by Jacob Ward, who brings viewers on a journey of discoveries and laughter from the farthest corners of the globe to the inside of your mind. Ward is known for his appearances on “The Today Show,” is the longtime editor of “Popular Science,” and NBC’s science correspondent. Hacking Your Mind features best-selling authors, including Michael Lewis (Moneyball, The Big Short), and Nobel Prize winners, including Daniel Kahneman (Thinking, Fast and Slow) and Richard Thaler, creator of behavioral economics. Throughout the program, discover how we evolved to make many of our decisions not based on what we “think,” but based on our feelings, intuition, and habits. This enables us to make decisions almost instantly, as though we’re operating on autopilot. Most of the time these autopilot processes serve us well, but they can also lead us to make predictable mistakes. Ward reveals how these common mistakes make us vulnerable to bias and misinformation.