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PBS preps doc channel, race content

PBS Distribution is launching a documentary-focused channel on Amazon Prime Video, while the US pubcaster itself has unveiled a host of African American-themed content including a doc exec produced by musician Alicia Keys.

Alicia Keys

PBS Documentaries will launch on Amazon on August 4, featuring a library of programmes under the Nova, Frontline, American Masters, Nature, American Experience, Independent Lens and POV brands, as well as the entire Ken Burns collection and content from independent producers.

PBS already has three channels on Prime Video: PBS Masterpiece, PBS Living and PBS Kids.

Meanwhile, the US pubcaster is adding a number of African American-themed docs and series to its upcoming slate, including American Masters: How it Feels to be Free, which is based on Ruth Feldstein’s book How it Feels to be Free: Black Women Entertainers & the Civil Rights Movement.

The doc, which is exec produced by singer-songwriter Keys, tells the story of how six iconic African American female entertainers – Lena Horne, Abbey Lincoln, Nina Simone, Diahann Carroll, Cicely Tyson and Pam Grier – challenged an entertainment industry deeply complicit in perpetuating racist stereotypes, and transformed themselves and their audiences in the process.

Slated to premiere on PBS in early 2021, the film features interviews with and archival performances from all six women, as well as conversations with contemporary artists influenced by them, such as actors Halle Berry and Samuel L Jackson.

Yap Films produces in association with American Masters Pictures, ITV Studios, Chicken & Egg Pictures and Documentary Channel in Canada. Fremantle holds the global distribution rights.

Also in PBS’s upcoming line-up is a two-part series tracing the 400-year history of the black church in the US.

The Black Church: This is Our Story, This is Our Song comes from exec producer, host and writer Henry Louis Gates Jr and features interviews with people including TV host Oprah Winfrey, singers Jennifer Hudson and John Legend, and a host of renowned gospel singers and civil rights leaders.

Premiering on PBS in February 2021, the series is produced by McGee Media, Inkwell Media and WETA Washington DC.

In October this year, PBS Kids will debut a half-hour special about race and racial justice-related topics, produced by Crossroads Productions. PBS Kids Talk About: Race & Racism will feature conversations between children and their parents and will include content from PBS Kids series Daniel Tiger’s Neighbourhood, Arthur and Xavier Riddle & the Secret Museum.

Also this October, PBS is launching an interview series hosted by author Kelly Corrigan during its PBS NewsHour slot. Titled Tell Me More with Kelly Corrigan, the one-hour show will see the host conduct candid conversations with influential leaders.


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