WGBH Educational Foundation

To research and produce four documentaries about the role of science and technology in history for The American Experience

  • Amount $2,500,000
  • City Boston, MA
  • Investigator Mark Samels
  • Year 2009
  • Program Public Understanding
  • Sub-program Television

The American Experience, the longest running and most esteemed history series on television, requests a grant of $2.5 million for four documentaries over the next two years that will focus on the role of science and technology. The four proposed episodes include a two-hour special by the acclaimed director Ric Burns "Into the Deep: America, Whaling, and the World" that tells the story of three centuries of American whaling and traces the remarkable growth of this early global industry to its decline; another two-hour show about the creation of the Panama Canal, the largest and most ambitious engineering project in history; a one-hour feature about the harrowing scientific expedition to the Arctic led by Adolphus Greely in 1881, the first international Polar Year; and a fourth program to be determined that will be reviewed by outsiders and approved by the staff prior to beginning production. The budget has been cut by half a million dollars from the original request given current funding constraints, and we also now demand, given our long association with this series, that the American Experience produces and broadcasts four S&T shows for the price of three. In addition, two of the shows are two hours long so we are effectively getting six hours of programming while paying for three hours, or a doubling of our production allotment. The American Experience continues to define excellence in documentary filmmaking-it has received every television award numerous times-and is America's most-watched history series.

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