Virtual TCA begins with PBS announcements

Tuesday, 28 July 2020 12:58 PM Written by 

Paula Kerger virtual TCA 7-2020 blog

The Television Critics Association summer press tour which I usually attend in Los Angeles was canceled due to COVID-19, but a virtual TCA has sprung up in its place with online press conferences devoted to PBS programming this week and cable and streaming outlets next week.

While these will prove useful to TV writers, a virtual TCA is no substitute for the real thing where reporters can pursue stories with local angles, get one-on-one interviews and bring home news they uncover that's unavailable in wire reports.

Read what PBS announced today after the jump. ...

PBS, celebrating its 50th anniversary on Oct. 4, announced “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” produced by Pittsburgh’s Fred Rogers Productions, will be part of “PBS Kids Talk about Race and Racism” (Oct. 9), a half-hour program that will also feature content from “Arthur” and “Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum.”

PBS president Paula Kerger (pictured above) also announced Henry Louis Gates Jr. will host “The Black Church: This is Our Story, This is Our Song” (9 p.m. Feb. 16 and 23).

Gates has resumed filming his PBS series "Finding Your Roots," shooting three new interviews with celebrities who learn about their ancestry using COVID-19 protocols including the addition of a six-foot diameter table so Gates and the celebrity can be physically distanced during the interview.

Kerger said in some ways PBS member stations have fared better in the pandemic than commercial TV stations since PBS doesn't rely on advertising in the same way. While advertisers pulled back from putting commercials on commercial stations, PBS counts on "viewers like you" for donations and member stations "have done reasonabley well" as more people watch PBS stations over TV and online but Kerger does have concerns about member stations affiliated with universities because of the financial pressures colleges are under in the pandemic.

On. Aug. 4 PBS Distribution will launch a documentary-focused Amazon Prime Video Channel, PBS Documentaries, which will include all the films made by PBS filmmaker Ken Burns alongside films from “NOVA,” “Frontline,” “American Masters,” “Nature,” “American Experience,” “Independent Lens” and “POV.” The PBS Documentaries channel will cost $3.99 monthly with an Amazon Prime Membership. (PBS Documentaries complements Amazon's PBS Masterpiece channel, $5.99 monthly, and PBS Living channel, $2.99 monthly.) The complete Ken Burns collection will also be available on PBS Passport, which is available to PBS donors (AKA “viewers like you” who contribute to local stations).

Author Kelly Corrigan will conduct conversations with leaders in their field on “Tell Me More with Kelly Corrigan” (9 p.m. Oct. 5).

In early 2021, PBS will premiere a new “American Masters” documentary, “How It Feels to be Free,” about the ways six African-American female entertainers – Lena Horne, Abbey Lincoln, Nina Simone, Diahann Carroll, Cicely Tyson and Pam Grier – challenged the entertainment industry’s perpetuation of racist stereotypes.

Also in 2021, “Independent Lens” will debut “Mr. SOUL!,” the story of America’s first Black variety show, 1968’s “SOUL!”


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