‘Leonardo da Vinci’ Documentary From Ken Burns to Premiere on PBS in November

The network will also air a 50-year “NOVA” special, a docuseries on disco and the addition of “Purlie Victorious” to “Great Performances”

Ken Burns
Ken Burns attends a conversation with Paula Kerger at The Paley Museum (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

PBS will air a new two-part documentary about legendary painter, thinker and inventor Leonardo da Vinici from storied documentarian Ken Burns. The news was announced as part of the network’s day at the Television Critics Association’s 2024 winter tour.

The four-hour series will premiere on Nov. 18 and 19 starting at 8 p.m. ET and will be directed by Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon. Burns’ first non-American subject, the series will explore the life and work of the 15th century polymath as well as how the artist influenced and inspired future generations. It will also mark a change in the team’s filmmaking style as it will include using split screens with images and video as well as sounds from different time periods.

That’s far from the only announcement PBS had during this season’s TCA tour. May will mark the addition of “Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch” to the Broadway’s Best lineup of “Great Performances.” Starring Leslie Odom, Jr., the special will air on Friday, May 24 at 9 p.m. ET.

In June, PBS will then be tackling disco. The three-part “Disco: Soundtrack of a Revolution” will premiere on June 18 and will follow the rise and fall of the art form as well as its legacy as it takes viewers behind-the-scenes with iconic tracks and notable footage.

At the end of the year, the network will also celebrate the history of “NOVA,” the beloved primetime science program. The series first debuted on March 3, 1974. To celebrate its 50-year anniversary, PBS will debut an array of new specials, content and initiatives through the end of 2024. More information on these will come at a later date.

As for other series and specials, PBS will continue to double down on its ongoing environmental and climate programming initiative by airing new content focused on topics related to ocean and fresh-water issues. New and returning titles “Hope in the Water,” “Nature: Patrick and the Whale,” “Dynamic Planet,” “Independent Lens: One With the Whale,” “Changing Planet,” “Sea Change” and “Weathered” will premiere throughout the year.

PBS Kids is also expanding its civics content initiative starting this year. These new series, which will expand the network’s social studies focus, will include a second season of the hit shorts series “City Island” as well as two new music video series that were created with Sesame Workshop, “City Island Sings” and “Together We Can.”

All of these programs will be available on local PBS channels, on PBS.org and on the PBS app.

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