Content Initiative Capturing Expressions of American Life and Struggle, As It Happens, Through Diverse Voices
ARLINGTON, VA; July 16, 2020 – PBS announced today that its 50th anniversary programming and engagement initiative PBS AMERICAN PORTRAIT, a crowdsourced storytelling project, will present two new half-hour documentary specials, co-produced with RadicalMedia, which will premiere Sunday, August 2 at 10:30 p.m. ET and Friday, October 16 at 10:30 p.m. ET, respectively (check local listings).
The first special, premiering in August, FAMILY OF US: A PBS AMERICAN PORTRAIT STORY, captures a moving and meaningful picture of families in America today and the way these relationships shape us. Surrounded by a chorus of voices from user generated submissions from across the country, the program provides a personal look at two very different main stories that reveal how we value our relatives now more than ever.
First is Lumiere R., a recent film school graduate, who moved to Griffin, Georgia to help care for her grandparents and document their stories, as her grandfather’s dementia threatens to erase much of the family’s collective memory. Second is Amelia G., whose father was released from prison in February after serving 10 years for a crime he did not commit. After months of delays due to the pandemic, Amelia is finally able to fly from New York City to San Francisco for the long-awaited reunion with her father.
Airing in October, GENERATION NATION: A PBS AMERICAN PORTRAIT STORY explores how people in different age groups, from adolescents to seniors, see themselves and their place in America. It reveals the common experiences that bind people together within and across age groups and the generational differences that can put us at odds with one another. Both specials are produced by PBS and RadicalMedia.
Since it was launched in early January 2020, the PBS AMERICAN PORTRAIT website has collected thousands of stories by Americans that, together, hope to answer the question: What does it really mean to be an American today? With millions of users coming to the site to explore the thousands of stories submitted from people all over America, PBS recently added to the site two new prompts — “Family looks like…” and “At this point in my life…” — allowing people across the country to share personal stories about the topics explored in the two specials.
PBS also fast-tracked production of IN THIS TOGETHER: A PBS AMERICAN PORTRAIT STORY, which aired in May, after receiving a wave of new submissions around the unprecedented global and national impact of COVID-19. The format of these two new programs will be similar to IN THIS TOGETHER, blending collages of user-generated content from around the country with deeper dives into a few main stories, where participants film and narrate their own lives.
“What’s powerful about PBS American Portrait is that all year, we are seeing expressions of American life and struggle through the eyes of diverse voices that make up this country,” said Bill Margol, Executive in Charge and Senior Director, General Audience Programming & Development at PBS. “We feel it’s important to share and amplify both the struggles and the celebrations, the joy and the pain. We did that with the IN THIS TOGETHER special and will continue to do so in the upcoming specials, docuseries and every day through our digital platforms.”
“In FAMILY OF US, viewers will get to experience firsthand accounts of how a wide range of American families are living today,” said Dave Sirulnick, Executive Producer at RadicalMedia. “Our hope is that these relatable, personal stories will resonate with those who watch and they’ll be inspired to share their own experiences.”
FAMILY OF US and GENERATION NATION will begin streaming August 2 and October 16, respectively, on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video App, available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, YouTube TV and Chromecast.
PBS LearningMedia will also provide teachers and students with educational materials focused on media and storytelling by pulling conceptualized clips from each episode of PBS AMERICAN PORTRAIT.
More details about the participants and their stories will be shared closer to the broadcast dates. Please visit the PBS AMERICAN PORTRAIT website at www.pbs.org/americanportrait and follow the conversation at #AmericanPortraitPBS on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to view the thousands of stories already being submitted.
Target is a major funder and national promotional partner for PBS AMERICAN PORTRAIT, expanding the reach of this initiative. Additional funding is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Anne Ray Foundation.
PBS AMERICAN PORTRAIT was developed and created with RadicalMedia. For RadicalMedia, Jon Kamen and Dave Sirulnick serve as Executive Producers, and Naomi Gilbert is the Senior Interactive Producer for the web platform. Craig D’Entrone is Executive Producing for RadicalMedia and is the showrunner on the project. Bill Margol is the Executive in Charge for PBS. For FAMILY OF US and GENERATION NATION, RadicalMedia’s Jon Kamen and Dave Sirulnick serve as Executive Producers alongside Director and Executive Producer Craig D'Entrone. Michéle Stephenson is Series Producer.
About PBS AMERICAN PORTRAIT
Launched on January 10, 2020, PBS AMERICAN PORTRAIT, a national storytelling project aligned with PBS’s 50th anniversary celebration, is the organization’s most ambitious multiplatform project in its history. A digital-first initiative produced by RadicalMedia, PBS AMERICAN PORTRAIT begins as a platform for user-generated content participation and is envisioned to encompass publishing, short form content, classroom engagement, a web miniseries, public art installations, live events and, in January 2021, a nationally televised documentary series. Leveraging the local reach of PBS through its member stations, PBS AMERICAN PORTRAIT presents a mosaic of our country’s diversity by connecting tens of thousands of people across the country, creating a communal voice through individual stories of joy, hardship, triumphs and sorrow. Participants will be able to tell and share their own stories, and see the stories shared by a wide panorama of Americans, united by a series of prompts that will serve as conversation starters, including: “I was raised to believe…,” “The tradition I carry on is…,” “What keeps me up at night is…,” “When I step outside my door…” and “Most days I feel…,” among others like, “I never expected…,” added in response to COVID-19, “Now is the time…” added to encourage people to share their stories about race in light of recent events.
PBS, with more than 330 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and digital content. Each month, PBS reaches over 120 million people through television and 26 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’s broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. Decades of research confirms that PBS’s premier children’s media service, PBS KIDS, helps children build critical literacy, math and social-emotional skills, enabling them to find success in school and life. Delivered through member stations, PBS KIDS offers high-quality educational content on TV— including a 24/7 channel, online at pbskids.org, via an array of mobile apps and in communities across America. More information about PBS is available at www.pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org websites on the internet, or by following PBS on Twitter, Facebook or through our apps for mobile and connected devices. Specific program information and updates for press are available at pbs.org/pressroom or by following PBS Pressroom on Twitter.
RadicalMedia produces premium content across all media platforms. With offices in New York, Los Angeles, London, Berlin, and Shanghai, RadicalMedia is a global media and communications company that creates and produces television, feature films, commercials, live events and interactive design. RadicalMedia is fluent in each and every discipline of storytelling, with accolades that include Oscar ®, Emmy ®, Peabody ® and Grammy ® Awards. Noteworthy programming includes Netflix’s first original documentary film, the Oscar-nominated and Emmy-Winning What Happened, Miss Simone?; Academy-Award Winning The Fog of War; Paradise Lost; Hamilfilm for Disney+; Hamilton's American and In The Heights for PBS; History Channel’s number one miniseries of all time, GRANT; Black Woodstock, directed by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Untitled Mental Health series with Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry for Apple TV+, Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich for Netflix; The multi-platform project; PBS’American Portrait, National Geographic’s Activate: A Global Citizen Movement; and David Byrne’s American Utopia, directed by Spike Lee, coming to HBO later this fall. Check out the latest work on Instagram and at www.radicalmedia.com.
Joe DePlasco, DKC, email@example.com
Michaé Godwin, PBS, firstname.lastname@example.org
Niki Kazakos, RadicalMedia, email@example.com