Wednesday 21 April 2010
( Click above or go to http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/video/2010/apr/21/barack-obama-history-channel )
Nutopia, the independent producer founded by former BBC2 controller Jane Root, has scored a bit of a coup in persuading Barack Obama to film an introductory link for its 12-hour drama-documentary epic, America: The Story of Us, which premieres on the History Channel in the US on Sunday. The series tells the 400-year history of America with CGI animation, dramatic recreations, and commentary on the importance and context of particular events from people including Donald Trump, Michael Douglas, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, former secretary of state Colin Powell and New York mayor Michael Bloomberg. Hardly surprising, given that the Nutopia board includes former Channel 4 chief executive Michael Jackson and ex Endemol UK creative director Peter Bazalgette – along with Root, both past masters at mixing programming genres to come up with new hybrid storytelling formats.
by Jason Deans
Recorded history goes back 6,000 years — but the History Channel goes back just 15.
And yet it seems like History has, during that time, managed to cover all 6,000 years — with Hitler, the Egyptians, the Civil War and WWII shows around the clock.
So I was betting against the claim that its newest project, “America: The Story of Us,” could possibly be the most in-depth series they’ve ever produced in History’s history.
However, after watching just two episodes, I have to cash in my chips and declare them the winner.
The six-night, 12-hour event will not only teach you things about ourselves that you never learned in school, but things you wish you had.
UP A CREEK: “America: The Story of Us” is on six consecutive nights starting Sunday on History.
It’s a nearly flawless, “you’re kidding!” look at history as we don’t know it.
They not only go in-depth about the stuff we all knew that shaped the country, but also how plants, trees, animals, weather, the ocean, whales, rivers and rocks all played huge parts in shaping how a continent became the country of the United States.
Did you know, for example, that the first settlers at Jamestown didn’t leave a mark in history? Those unprepared souls arrived without livestock or the bare necessities of life in an unforgiving environment. Instead, they brought gold-testing chemicals.
When farmer/entrepreneur John Rolfe landed a few years later with smuggled tobacco seeds (those are what really changed the course of the nation), he found only 60 of the 500 original settlers still alive. The rest had died of disease, exposure and incompetence. One man had even been hanged for killing his pregnant wife with the intention of eating her.
And how about them slaves, huh? Turns out many of the earliest settlers were free West Africans who came here quite willingly, fought and worked alongside other settlers. The first revolutionary patriot killed in the Boston Massacre was Crispus Attucks, a black man.
The series, done in reenactments and CGI, opens with comments from President Obama, and goes on to cover the expansion West, slavery, the wars, railroads, cities, the boom, the dust bowl, the Great Depression, Baby Boomers, space exploration and the millennium.
OK, so what’s not quite right with it?
Same thing as what’s not quite right with our country: celebrities.
For no reason whatsoever, the series includes comments from irrelevant movie stars like Michael Douglas.
Together again at last: Lincoln and Douglas!
Full Article: http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment/tv/epic_story_school_america_that_you_2UcobZSyHPLOkFkCrKvrYJ#ixzz0losOddKu
Posted by Comments Off
April 20 2010
President Barack Obama will introduce AMERICA THE STORY OF US, a new 12-hour series on HISTORY™, sharing reflections on the spirit and resilience that continue to shape our country. The President’s remarks will open the premiere episode on Sunday, April 25, at 9pm ET. New episodes of AMERICA THE STORY OF US air on Sundays through Memorial Day, covering 400 years of our nation’s history.
Find full story on link below
Posted: April 14, 2010
Documentaries have gone mainstream. While not ready for primetime — or, in many ways, way beyond primetime — the offspring of documentary programming has gripped audiences on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond. But what may be most interesting in terms of documentary topics is how the genre has influenced non-documentaries.
The question today, for documentary filmmakers, and those interested in “documentary topics,” is: How big can — and should — documentary get?
We’re in an interesting place here today — an intersection, or place of hybrids. And that’s an exciting place to be.
Think of something like The Apprentice, Kitchen Nightmares, or Top Gear. All have taken elements from ways of making programs that are more typical of the documentary world and have parlayed them into huge shows.
How big should documentary get?
My answer is as big as it possibly can.
I’ll let others judge the success of America The Story of Us, which will premiere on History on April 25th.
My pitch these days is that filmmakers, especially those raised in the documentary form and in journalism, should take on huge territories. Create new hybrids.
There’s loads of ways to do it — with formats that grow out of documentaries like Undercover Boss.
With performance and comedy embraced back into documentary in Sky in the UK’s Pineapple Dance Studios (watch it on You Tube). Or doc soaps meet Antiques Road Show in History channel’s breakout hit Pawn Stars.
With Its new technology that gives you Life and Planet Earth and of course America Story of Us.
With CGI and animation.
There are a ton of new hybrids no one has even contemplated out there ready to be created.
But whatever it is don’t be afraid to make it big, the rest of television culture needs you to do it.
For complete article please go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jane-root/the-best-of-both-worlds-h_b_537442.html
Excerpts from Jane Root speech given at MIPDOC closing speech, Cannes April 11th 2010
31 March, 2010
Nutopia, the company set up by former BBC2 controller Jane Root and Laura Franses, has made two senior appointments.
Former Love Productions executive David DeHaney, who has worked on hit series such as Baby Borrowers and Boys And Girls Alone, comes on board as creative director with a remit to drive development and production of the indie’s factual slate.
Phil Craig also joins Nutopia as an executive producer to develop and deliver factual series and factually-inspired dramas. Craig’s previous credits include Discovery’s Emmy-nominated 9/11 drama documentary The Flight That Fought Back.
Craig, who previously worked at Furnace Productions and as joint head of programmes at Brook Lapping, will also executive produce the new indie’s second commission, 9/11: The Test, for Channel 4, The History Channel and BBC Worldwide.
The 90-minute drama documentary looks at the 2001 attacks from the point of view of key political and military leaders.
Nutopia’s first commission – the epic 12-hour series America: The Story Of US – is due to air on the History Channel in April in the US. The indie is also currently in pre-production for a major new format for Channel 4.
Last December, Nutopia signed a two-year, first-look distribution deal with BBC Worldwide that saw the distributor invest an undisclosed sum in the indie’s development slate in return for a first look on all distribution rights outside the UK and the US.
Nutopia board members include C4 boss Michael Jackson and ex-Endemol chief creative officer Peter Bazalgette.
By Ann-Marie Corvin – Broadcast