Sep 21, 2009

Independent Lens welcomes host Maggie Gyllenhaal

Indie movie fave Maggie Gyllenhaal will be host of the new season of Independent Lens, premiering Oct. 13. Former hosts include Edie Falco, Angela Bassett, Don Cheadle and Susan Sarandon.

StoryCorps wants Latino histories

StoryCorps on NPR, which has archived oral histories from more than 50,000 participants, is kicking off StoryCorps Historias in a Washington, D.C., event Thursday. StoryCorps calls it "a groundbreaking initiative to record and preserve the stories of Latinos across the United States" (Current, Dec. 22, 2008). Partners in the national project include the Latino Public Radio Consortium, Latino USA and the U.S. Latino and Latina World War II Oral History Project. Members of Congress, CPB President Pat Harrison and StoryCorps founder Dave Isay will be on hand for the announcement, at the United States Botanic Garden next to the Capitol.

KBDI developing investigative news project

Wick Rowland, CEO of KBDI in Denver and dean of the Colorado University-Boulder School of Journalism, has announced that Colorado Public Television will create an investigative news website and pubTV show, according to the Temple Talk journalism blog from John Temple, former publisher of the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News. The project will have a staff of 12; it's currently partially funded. Heading up the effort will be former Rocky Mountain News reporter Ann Imse. KBDI will provide about a quarter of the $2.2 million budget, including air time, the website, libel insurance and administrative costs. The group is hoping to raise $400,000 to get begin work.

Keillor's economic impact far-reaching

Alarm bells went off in Minnesota when Prairie Home Companion talker Garrison Keillor mentioned to Minneapolis's Star Tribune last week that he might give up host duties and become producer for a "successor show." The newspaper is examining "the ripple effects" that it says "would be enormous" for state businesses if that happened -- even at the state fair, where Keillor appearances routinely draw 7,000 to 11,000 fans. Keillor's mild stroke on Sept. 7 and four-day hospital stay has him pondering his future.

As a sponsor faces lawsuit over lending practices, Smiley ends relationship

After being drawn into a scandal over alleged predatory loan practices of Wells Fargo, talk show host Tavis Smiley has cut all ties to the financial company.

Smiley, who hosts shows on both PBS and Public Radio International, began working with Wells Fargo in 2005 as a speaker at wealth-building seminars for African Americans. A lawsuit recently filed by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan charges that these seminars were marketing schemes to peddle subprime mortgages to minorities and "part of the bank’s overall illegal and discriminatory practice of steering black and Hispanic borrowers into riskier and more expensive loans," according to the Washington Independent.

“Basically we were just speakers for hire,” said Kelvin Boston, host of the American Public Television series Moneywise, who also appeared at the seminars. “We didn’t have any role or any control over what else happened. The main point is that we were not involved in any of their discussions or in anything they sold.”

"I cut everything off with Wells Fargo," Smiley told journalism blogger Richard Prince [scroll down here], as the Independent's story began circulating on the blogosphere last week. The move cost "a lot of money," Smiley added, but he didn't know how much. Wells Fargo had sponsored Smiley's weekly PRI series and his annual "State of the Black Union" conferences, televised by C-SPAN.

In a written statement, Smiley said the mission of his media company is "to empower and speak for the underserved" and it "always will support any official and credible investigation of allegations of any company accused of disrespecting communities of color with discriminatory practices."

The Washington Independent is an online publication of the Center for Independent Media and staffed by a team of blogger/reporters who specialize in politics, policy & business reporting.

And the most Emmys go to: Little Dorrit!

Little Dorrit, the BBC/PBS/WGBH Dickens adaptation considered an Emmy underdog, actually walked away with seven statuettes: Best miniseries, directing, writing, art direction, casting, cinematography and costumes. The stunning victory for the Masterpiece miniseries even bested such powerhouses as Mad Men and 30 Rock. Here's a clip of just one of the acceptance speeches, and a list of all the winners. Other pubcasting winners: American Masters for original main title theme music, and Great Performances for nonfiction series. UPDATE: PBS's Joe Miller, senior associate of primetime publicity and awards, tells Current the network will be re-posting the miniseries on the PBS Video site on Thursday, and refeeding it to stations sometime this week.