Sep 23, 2011

Lynn Novick, a filmmaker in her own right

Lynn Novick has shared directing or producing credits on several of documentarian Ken Burns' major films, including Frank Lloyd Wright in 1998, The War in 2007 and last year's Baseball: The Tenth Inning. And yet she remains in his shadow. Here's a New York Times profile of Novick, who began her career as a production assistant at WNET and spent time working as an associate producer on A World of Ideas with Bill Moyers.

Pittsburgh's WQED announces all-pledge multicast channel

WQED in Pittsburgh is launching what looks to be the first pubTV multicast channel in the nation dedicated to all pledge programming, all the time.

WQED Showcase "will include local pledge programming that has previously aired on the main channel, as well as national pledge programming that we were not able to schedule on the main channel due to space limitations," George Hazimanolis, spokesperson for the Pittsburgh station, told Current.

And, yes, "viewers will be asked to make a contribution to WQED just like on any other pledge program," Hazimanolis said.

The new channel "will be another way for WQED to maximize revenue so that we can continue to fulfill our core educational mission to this community," said Deborah Acklin, station president, in a statement.

In addition, WQED Showcase will be a testing ground for national pledge shows from American Public Television, Acklin said. 

Local content will include popular shows such as QED Cooks with Chris Fennimore and Rick Seback's documentaries. The channel goes on the air later this fall.

Cancellation of English-Spanish show in Gary, Ind., causes dispute

Que Pasa!, a talk show in English and Spanish on WGVE, a pubradio station owned and operated by the Gary (Indiana) Community School Corporation, has been pulled from the air, reports WBEZ in Chicago. The host is crying censorship; management says it's a dispute over scheduling.

Lisette Guillen-Gardnerhas co-hosts the show with her mother, Maria Guillen. It runs from 8 to 9 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, serving northwest Indiana’s Latino population.

“Last Thursday (Sept. 15) was our last show. We were surprised to learn that would be our last show,” Guillen-Gardner told WBEZ.

Guillen-Gardner said Gary schools Superintendent Myrtle Campbell and schools spokesperson Sarita Stevens, who is also WGVE’s station manager, spoke to her before a show in late August featuring Tony Bennett, Indiana's superintendent of schools. She said both told her not to talk about a controversial pending school takeover plan with Bennett. Guillen-Gardner refused. “I told them if Dr. Bennett allowed me to talk about that and allows me to do so, I’m going to ask him about that," she said. But the topic never surfaced on the air.

Guillen-Gardner believes her refusal prompted the show's cancellation. But Stevens said Guillen-Gardner refused to move to a new time slot. “It’s very unfortunate that [the co-hosts] have no sensibility in terms of where they want to be placed," Stevens said. "They don’t want to be placed in any other time bracket except for 8 o’clock. This is radio. This is media. Sometimes there have to make compromises. In media, sometimes your program is moved.”

A pubcasting pint: Broadcaster Brown Ale

In celebration of World Cafe's 20th anniversary on pubradio, Philadelphia Brewing Co. has created Broadcaster Brown Ale. " Just like World Cafe," it says, "Broadcaster Brown Ale is both satisfying, and contemplative; with a silky malt sweetness, the complex flavors of kilned German malts, and the dry finish of our American hops." The brewer worked with the WXPN show's creator David Dye to get the "medium-bodied, deep red-brown hued ale" just right. It'll be available on tap around Philly in October. Dye "will be out and about at various bars to share a pint with you," the station says, and is putting together special music mixes to play in those venues.

"Two and a Half Men" director to produce WQED talk show

Jamie Widdoes, a director of CBS’ hit sitcom Two and a Half Men, is returning to his hometown of Pittsburgh to produce an as-yet untitled WQED talk show about female empowerment and girls’ self-esteem beginning in December 2011, the station announced Thursday (Sept. 22). It's the first program of the new Pittsburgh Innovative Media Incubator, a co-venture between WQED and the Steeltown Entertainment Project, a local nonprofit advocating to make the region an entertainment production center. The incubator is funded by a grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation.

The show will also be offered in syndication to broadcasters such as the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The program can trace its roots to the 2003 Steeltown Entertainment Project summit at WQED and the Andy Warhol Museum, where local creative and civic leaders discussed strategies to attract major film and television productions to the area. Pittsburgh expats participating in the summit included Widdoes, director Rob Marshall (Chicago), manager Eric Gold (Jim Carrey, Ellen DeGeneres),  producer Bernie Goldmann (300), and television series creator Terri Minsky (Lizzie McGuire).

“It’s been a dream of mine for many years to come home and produce in Pittsburgh,” Widdoes said in a statement. “I can’t think of a better place for a project like this. From the moment I was on the [WQED]  set of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, I've wanted to do something in that studio."