Feb 6, 2012

In case you missed it ...

Here's a link to get you caught up on the posts thus far at "The Babes of NPR" on Tumblr, which the New York Observer calls "oddly funny, moderately creepy." Here's a typical post on the faces behind the voices: "Sure, Bob Edwards left NPR for XM Radio but how could you stay mad at someone with a hero chin and male model hair? HOT."

WFMT to offer annual Immersion Day as a live online stream for $20

Classical WFMT in Chicago is conducting an experiment with its third annual in-studio Immersion Day on Feb. 11, said Steve Robinson, e.v.p. for radio and project development. The popular event, where fans pay $150 to attend a daylong seminar on a specific aspect of classical music, mingle and share lunch, this time also will be streamed live. Henry Fogel, former president of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and a leading expert on opera singers, will discuss how those vocal performances have changed over the past 100 years.

Participants attending the seminar will receive full access to the stream, which will be archived online for a year, Robinson told Current. Fans elsewhere pay $20 to listen in that day, and also get archival access.

"This is an experiment in niche streaming," said Robinson, who got the idea when he heard about YouTube investing $100 million in targeted original content. The YouTube work, he said, "is being done on a macro scale — it signifies that streaming as we know it, what it can do and mean, is being reshaped."

On a local level, Robinson said, "this could be of significance for other public radio or public TV stations, any kind of small organization that feels it has content of value. If you pardon the pun, it could be a second revenue stream."

So far 50 participants have signed up for this weekend's event, which runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday Central time. "Our goal is 150 for this one," Robinson said. "We hope for the next one we'll have 500, and the next — 10,000."

Mike deGruy, cinematographer for several "Nature" docs, dies in crash

Mike deGruy, an acclaimed cinematographer with a love of the sea who created several Nature documentaries on PBS, was killed in a helicopter crash in Australia on Feb. 4. He was 60.

His employer, National Geographic, said that deGruy and Australian television writer-producer Andrew Wight crashed after takeoff near Nowra, 97 miles north of Sydney. Australia’s ABC News reported that Wight was piloting the helicopter.

Fred Kaufman, executive director of Nature at WNET in New York City, told Current that he still remembers his first meeting with deGruy. "Twenty years ago, when I became the executive producer of Nature, Mike’s film, Incredible Suckers was my first commission," he said, "and I learned something very valuable from my initial conversation with Mike — bring your ‘A’ game because Mike was smart, persuasive and quick. He had an answer for every question, he did his homework and if you had an opinion you’d better be prepared to defend it."

Kaufman met deGruy at the first Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival in 1991 to discuss Incredible Suckers. "Mike never talked softly," Kaufman said, "and sitting in the lobby of the Snow King Resort he was all energy and optimism, a Mike deGruy trademark we would all come to know and admire. He was good-looking, charismatic, passionate and persuasive. It was no wonder that he went from marine biologist to award-winning filmmaker to successful on-camera presenter."

DeGruy worked on several films over the years for Nature, including Lost World of the Medusa, Hawaii: Island of the Fire Goddess, The Octopus Show and Live from the Abyss. "The one thing these films all had in common was Mike’s love of the deep and his passion to share it," Kaufman said. "In fact, remembering Mike, I cannot think of anyone else who so loved the life they were living. He had a wonderful wife and partner in Mimi. Their two terrific kids, Max and Frances, had the coolest dad ever. He got to travel the world and speak on behalf of the issues facing our oceans — and he piloted submersibles and explored the seas with a boyish enthusiasm that captured our hearts."

DeGruy, who lived with his family in Santa Barbara, Calif.., won multiple Emmy and BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) awards for cinematography. He was an accomplished diver and submersible pilot, and director of undersea photography for James Cameron's 2005 documentary Last Mysteries of the Titanic.

"Mike was the bright light that pierced the inky darkness of the deep," Kaufman said. "He was our leader into the abyss. I will think of him often and remember him always."

PBS Arts Festival supporter tops Chronicle of Philanthropy's 2011 largest donors list

The late Margaret Cargill, whose Anne Ray Charitable Trust backed last year's PBS Fall Arts Festival with an $800,000 donation, was the most generous philanthropic donor in America in 2011, according to this year's Philanthropy 50 list from the Chronicle of Philanthropy. The top 50 donors gave a total of $10.4 billion in 2011, up from $3.3 billion the previous year, according to the Chronicle study. Cargill's $6 billion bequest created the surge; although she died in 2006, her foundations weren’t able to liquidate her assets until last year, the Chronicle noted. Here is the entire list, and information about how the 12th annual research project was conducted.

Here's a peek into the Crawley family's Superbowl party

Turns out the inhabitants of Downton Abbey watched the Superbowl on Sunday, too. Well, the Super-Proper Bowl, at least. Check it out on YouTube.

World Channel seeks long-form documentaries for upcoming series

The World Channel is announcing its first open call for content, in advance of a new long-form documentary series premiering later this year focusing on "stories of unique and diverse Americans," it said Monday (Feb. 6). Liz Cheng, World g.m., said the series will run films that "explore individuals, issues and ideas not often seen on mainstream television." Deadline is March 1; more information here.