TAVIS SMILEY GOES PRIMETIME with ‘The Tavis Smiley Reports’
Premieres January 2010 with Features on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the 5th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina
Tavis Smiley and PBS will expand their relationship in 2010 with the January premiere of THE TAVIS SMILEY REPORTS, a series of four hour-long primetime specials that will air throughout 2010. Smiley will leave his studio chair in Los Angeles and go on the road to examine some of the country’s defining moments through those who have helped to shape history – from going behind the scenes with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the streets of New Orleans with director Jonathan Demme to mark Hurricane Katrina’s 5th anniversary.
“The REPORT(s) will take a look at the country’s most important people and recent events, from perspectives that are rarely portrayed,” says host Tavis Smiley. “I will be talking to the people and traveling to the places that have transformed us as a nation, often in ways we don’t even realize.”
“For years, Tavis Smiley has explored topics by engaging his guests in thought-provoking discussions, and we’re eager to see him take his award-winning approach outside of the studio,” says John F. Wilson, PBS Senior Vice President and Chief TV Programming Executive. “These primetime specials allow Tavis to seek out the stories and individuals that are a driving force in today’s world.”
The first TAVIS SMILEY REPORTS, premiering Wednesday, January 27, 2010, at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on PBS, focuses on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as she completes her first year as America’s chief diplomat and looks ahead to the challenges of the next three years. Smiley has been granted exceptional access to Secretary Clinton and will accompany her on diplomatic missions abroad, to meetings on Capitol Hill and within the State Department itself to give the American public a candid and incisive view of the inner workings of U.S. diplomacy and international relations.
The second REPORT, premiering Wednesday, March 31, 2010, at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on PBS, will delve into one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s greatest speeches, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence,” which Dr. King delivered on April 4, 1967, at Riverside Church in New York City. The speech, delivered exactly one-year prior to the date of his assassination, is considered pivotal but often under-appreciated. King challenged the morality of the Vietnam conflict and urged a national discussion about the role of America in the world. Smiley will examine the context of Dr. King’s words on liberty, responsibility and freedom against the backdrop of the fight for civil rights and an increasingly unpopular war, and examine the implications of his words today, particularly in light of President Obama’s decision to increase U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
For the third TAVIS SMILEY REPORTS, Smiley will team with Academy Award-winning director Jonathan Demme to revisit New Orleans on the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The REPORT will offer a uniquely personal look at the resilience of the citizens of the Ninth Ward through their efforts to rebuild their lives. Smiley will present a portrait of a city still reeling from the aftermath of the natural disaster and the political neglect that followed, and explore the lessons to be learned from post-Katrina New Orleans.
The topic of the fourth REPORT will be announced later in 2010.
TAVIS SMILEY REPORTS is produced for PBS by The Smiley Group, Inc. /TS Media, Inc. and KCET Los Angeles. Executive producer is Jacoba Atlas. Funding provided by Corporation for Public Broadcasting, PBS and Public Television Viewers.
Smiley returns to his late-night PBS talk show, TAVIS SMILEY, on January 11, 2010, for a seventh season of insightful conversations with politicians, actors, artists, athletes and newsmakers.