PBS has announced a new programming slate consisting of two new series, two documentaries, a children’s special and a new Prime Video channel, all set to roll out between Fall 2020 and Winter 2021.
The network released the plans during its virtual press tour in lieu of this summer’s Television Critics Association press tour, which was canceled due to the coronavirus.
On August 4, PBS will launch a new Prime Video channel called PBS Documentaries, which will include a library of programs including the entire Ken Burns collections and films from “Nova,” “Frontline,” “American Masters,” “Nature, “American Experience,” “Independent Lens,” “POV” and other independent producers.
PBS also announced two new series, including “Tell Me More With Kelly Corrigan,” an interview program featuring the New York Times bestselling author, and “The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song,” a two-part documentary series from PBS and WETA hosted by Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. featuring interviews with Oprah Winfrey, John Legend, Jennifer Hudson, Bishop Michael Curry, Cornel West, Pastor Shirley Caesar, Rev. Al Sharpton, Yolanda Adams, Rev. William Barber II, BeBe Winans, Bishop Vashti McKenzie and more.
The first episode of Corrigan’s series premieres Monday, October 5, 2020, at 9 p.m. ET on PBS stations nationwide (check local listings). “The Black Church” airs on Feb. 16 and 23 at 9 p.m. ET.
Two new documentaries will also come from the network, including “How It Feels To Be Free,” a new “American Masters” documentary about trailblazing Black female entertainers Lena Horne, Abbey Lincoln, Diahann Carroll, Nina Simone, Cicely Tyson and Pam Grier produced by Alicia Keys and premiering in Winter 2021, and “Mr. Soul!,” a documentary about America’s first Black variety show set to premiere during the upcoming season of PBS’ Independent Lens series.
Lastly, PBS announced a new kids’ special called “PBS Kids Talk About: Race and Racism,” set to debut on Oct. 9.
Below are the network’s descriptions of each program.
“Tell Me More With Kelly Corrigan”
“Corrigan will conduct candid conversations with influential leaders in their fields, including acclaimed public interest lawyer Bryan Stevenson. In each one-hour episode, Corrigan will explore her guests’ universal humanity and passions. Throughout the series, the audience will learn revealing insights that will place her guests in a new light. The conversations with Corrigan and her guests will reveal the experiences we all have in common and how we can use those experiences to make a difference. Featured guests profiled in the series will be announced this fall.”
“The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song”
“This moving four-hour, two-part series from executive producer, host and writer Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, traces the 400-year-old story of the Black church in America, all the way down to its bedrock role as the site of African American survival and grace, organizing and resilience, thriving and testifying, autonomy and freedom, solidarity and speaking truth to power. The documentary reveals how Black people have worshipped and, through their spiritual journeys, improvised ways to bring their faith traditions from Africa to the New World, while translating them into a form of Christianity that was not only truly their own, but a redemptive force for a nation whose original sin was found in their ancestors’ enslavement across the Middle Passage.”
“How It Feels to Be Free”
“PBS and THIRTEEN announced American Masters: How It Feels To Be Free, an upcoming documentary that tells the inspiring 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. The film, which is slated to premiere in early 2021 on PBS and on documentary Channel in Canada, features interviews and archival performances with all six women, as well as original conversations with contemporary artists influenced by them, including Alicia Keys, an executive producer on the project, Halle Berry, Lena Waithe, Meagan Good, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Samuel L. Jackson and other luminaries, as well as family members, including Horne’s daughter Gail Lumet Buckley.”
“In 1968, America’s first Black variety show, SOUL!, helmed by producer and eventual host Ellis Haizlip, premiered on public television. The pioneering series ran for six years, cementing itself as not only a vehicle to celebrate Black artistry, community and culture but also as a platform for political expression and a powerful force in the fight for social justice. In Mr. SOUL!, award-winning filmmaker Melissa Haizlip–the niece of Ellis–portrays in exquisite detail a revolutionary time in American culture and entertainment through vibrant archival footage and interviews with numerous Black luminaires who appeared on SOUL!, or were impacted by it. Premieres in Winter 2021.”
“PBS Kids Talk About: Race and Racism”
“The half-hour program will feature authentic conversations between real children and their parents, and will include content from PBS KIDS series DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD, ARTHUR and XAVIER RIDDLE AND THE SECRET MUSEUM. The show will feature kids and their parents talking about race and racial justice-related topics in an age-appropriate way, such as noticing differences in race, understanding what racism can look like, and embracing the role we all have to play in standing up for ourselves and each other — offering viewers ideas to build on as they continue these important conversations at home.”