Wednesday, January 16, 2008

It took almost a million dollars...

...to clear the rights and get ALL 14 hours of the landmark civil rights series Eyes on the Prize back to air -- if your local PBS station isn't carrying the rebroadcast of Eyes II (airing on four consecutive Sundays, Feb 3, 10, 17, and 24), call and ask them to do so.

Eyes II begins in 1965, picking up where Eyes I left off. "Eyes on the Prize II covers a divisive period in American history that is highly relevant to what is happening in the political landscape today," said Judi Hampton, sister of the series' late creator, Henry Hampton, in PBS press materials.

Sam Pollard and I produced, directed and wrote two films for Eyes II, "Two Societies" and "Ain't Gonna Shuffle No More." The latter film won Emmys for both writing and editing (they were edited by Betty Ciccarelli), and the series won the George Foster Peabody Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism. It's worth tuning in!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Watch EYES II on PBS in February!

Finally, the second season of Eyes on the Prize will return to public television -- tell everyone you know! These eight hours cover a range of stories, from Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali to the Black Panther Party, the Black Arts Movement, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Poor People's Campaign, and more. The series is being aired as a special presentation of American Experience.

Eyes I (six hours, covering events from 1954 to 1965) premiered on PBS in 1987 and was rebroadcast on American Experience in October 2006). Eyes II (eight hours, 1965-1984) premiered in 1990, and returns for the first time this February.

As has been widely reported, both seasons fell out of distribution as underlying rights to third-party visuals and music expired--a routine occurrence in the world of documentary. (For more information, click here.) In the case of Eyes, however, public outcry and grants totalling nearly a million dollars (from the Ford Foundation and others) enabled rights to be renewed, allowing for rebroadcast and for educational release of the series on DVD. (Print materials for teachers wanting to use Eyes in the classroom are available online; see also Facing History's website.)