PRESS TOUR: Raise a glass: Ken Burns readies 'Prohibition'

Sunday, 31 July 2011 10:00 PM Written by 

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prohibBEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – PBS documentary filmmaker Ken Burns is a fan of HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" -- he hasn't missed an episode yet -- and he's hopeful interest in the HBO 1920s-era series will help gin up interest in his latest PBS program, "Prohibition," airing Oct. 2-4. ("Boardwalk Empire" returns for season two on Sept. 25.)

"I'm always amazed how many of the films we make seem to fit into the zeitgeist of the moment," Burns said. "We hope audiences who have been enjoying ["Boardwalk Empire"] might look to us and we hope audiences who might be enjoying our thing will go to them and that might represent the possibility of some symbiotic relationship."

Read more after the jump. ...

Burns made a lot of allusions to current-day issues that will be explored in "Prohibition" but he said he'd leave drawing any direct lines to viewers.

"We are not political filmmakers, we don't have a political axe to grind or make," Burns said, noting that at one point sauerkraut became known as "liberty cabbage" (shades of "freedom fries"). "One begins to understand human nature always is the same. We leave it up to our audience to forge those connections. We make a very strong point about prohibition and that it's an abject failure and didn't do anything about alcoholism. The impulse at the beginning of prohibition, the problem to solve, remained at the end of the prohibition era."

One of the best lines from a "Prohibition" clip shown is writer Pete Hamill's observation that making prohibition the law of the land is to "pass a law that would imprison Jesus if he turned water into wine."

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