PBS Orders Documentaries on Woodstock, Reconstruction and a Ken Burns Look at Genes

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Last Updated: July 30, 2018 @ 2:53 PM

PBS has ordered a trio of documentaries: “Woodstock,” “Reconstruction: America After the Civil War” and Ken Burns’ “The Gene: An Intimate History,” the public broadcaster announced Monday at the Television Critics Association press tour.

“Woodstock” is a two-hour Barak Goodman doc tied to the 50th anniversary of the legendary 1969 concert held in upstate New York.

The four-hour “Reconstruction: America After the Civil War” is executive produced and hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and chronicles the confusing years immediately after the Union Army defeated the Confederacy in a divided America. Like “Woodstock,” “Reconstruction” is set to air next year.

“Ken Burns Presents The Gene: An Intimate History” is a three-hour adaptation of Siddhartha Mukherjee, M.D.’s book “The Gene: An Intimate History.” That one, in which Burns (pictured above) explores the breakthroughs in understanding the impact genes play on heredity, disease and behavior, will have to wait until Spring 2020.

PBS also revealed Monday that the popular Fred Rogers documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” will air as part of “Independent Lens” in 2019.

Below are the docs with their official descriptions, all in PBS’ own words:

PBS and American Experience announced the new two-hour documentary “Woodstock,” scheduled to premiere on PBS in 2019 in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the historic three-day concert that defined a generation. In August 1969, half a million people from all walks of life journeyed from every corner of the country to a dairy farm in upstate New York for a concert unprecedented in scope and influence. “Woodstock” examines the tumultuous decade that led to those three historic days — years that saw the nation deeply divided by Vietnam and racial, generational and sexual politics — through the voices of those who were present for the event that would become the defining moment of the counterculture revolution.

The film is directed by award-winning filmmaker Barak Goodman, written by Goodman and Don Kleszy, and produced by Goodman and Jamila Ephron, with Mark Samels as executive producer.

“Reconstruction: America After the Civil War”
“Reconstruction: America After the Civil War” (working title), a new four-hour documentary executive produced and hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., will premiere next spring on PBS stations nationwide. Professor Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, will present the definitive history of one of the least understood chapters in American history — the transformative years following the American Civil War when the nation struggled to rebuild itself in the face of profound loss, massive destruction and revolutionary social change.

“Ken Burns Presents The Gene: An Intimate History”
“Ken Burns Presents The Gene: An Intimate History,” a new three-hour documentary executive produced by Ken Burns, will premiere over three nights in Spring 2020 on PBS. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Siddhartha Mukherjee, M.D., and acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns will collaborate on the new documentary inspired by Mukherjee’s best-selling 2016 book, The Gene: An Intimate History.

Now in active production, Ken Burns Presents The Gene: An Intimate History, much like the book, will use science, social history and personal stories to weave together a historical biography of the human genome while also exploring the stunning breakthroughs in understanding the impact genes play on heredity, disease and behavior. From the story of the remarkable achievements of the earliest gene hunters and the bitterly fought race to read the entire human genome, to the unparalleled ethical challenges of gene editing, the documentary will journey through key genetics discoveries that are some of the greatest achievements in the history of science.

Award-winning filmmaker Barak Goodman will produce and, in addition to Burns and Goodman, the film will largely have the same production team behind the Emmy Award-nominated “Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies,” an adaption of Mukherjee’s earlier 2010 book that aired in 2015 on PBS.