Tom Brokaw Looks Back on Biggest Stories in New Series ‘The Brokaw Files’ (Exclusive)

Tom Brokaw talks exclusively to TheWrap about a Military Channel show featuring insights he never shared on NBC Nightly News

Last Updated: April 4, 2012 @ 1:15 PM

Tom Brokaw will look back on the biggest stories of his career — from the fall of the Berlin Wall to 9/11 — in the new Military Channel series "The Brokaw Files."

The network's new slate, to be officially unveiled Thursday, also includes new shows about such subjects as international espionage, assassinations and recently declassified air combat missions, as well as the tentatively titled special "Commander in Chief," which will examine presidential decision-making in times of crisis.

Also read: Tom Brokaw Tells Stephen Colbert He Was Doing Yoga When Plane Hit WTC

Brokaw's career has given him a front-row seat for many of those crucial moments, and he will share insights he couldn't always offer during his 22 years as the anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News. "The Brokaw Files" represents an expanded mission for the Discovery-owned Military Channel, which is branching out from armed forces-related programming to shows about people who changed history.

"This is a real mix," Brokaw told TheWrap exclusively. "What's appealing about it to me is it's generational — it's military and non-military. It has to do with events that changed our lives. Searing moments, everything from 9/11 to the 60th anniversary of D-Day."

"One of the things that has always been frustrating about television is it's so perishable," he added. "You put it on, and if the audience has got something else to watch that night — or there's inclement weather, or good weather, and they're not there in front of their televisions — then it goes away. This gives us a chance to revisit what we think are some important television documentaries and examinations of people who shaped our lives… a chance to expose an entirely new audience to stuff that we're really proud of."

"The Brokaw Files" — a title that could change — will debut in the fall and be produced exclusively for the Military Channel by NBCUniversal’s Peacock Productions. Brokaw, 72, stepped down from NBC Nightly News in 2004, but has continued to contribute to the network's news coverage.

His work with the Military Channel will bring him back for a regular series on a network that thrives on the kind of historic examination that gets little play on regular television news. The "Greatest Generation" author has long harbored a love of history as well as one for breaking news.

Here is the full slate of upcoming Military Channel shows, which it will present to advertisers on Thursday afternoon. Alll show descriptions are from the network:


THE BROKAW FILES (working title)

"The Brokaw Files" revisits pivotal moments in history through the eyes of Tom Brokaw, one of the most trusted and respected journalists of today. With Brokaw’s first-hand accounts drawn across his award-winning career, this new series provides viewers with new interviews and fresh insights from Brokaw himself that place these memorable news stories into a modern context.

SPY VS. SPY (wt)

Told by the men and women who risked their lives in the deadly “wilderness of mirrors” of international espionage, "Spy Vs. Spy" features real-world tales of deception and intrigue. While the stories and methods seem to be ripped from the pages of a Hollywood screenplay, they are all true and highlight the life and death stakes within the shadowy realm of spies, including the gadgets, secret identities, and villains. Each episode takes viewers inside the gripping, cat-and-mouse narrative from the height of the Cold War, full of double crosses and blind drops.


Ambitious, spectacular, and supercharged with thrilling action, "Air Aces" profiles the most harrowing airborne combat missions ever, many of which were recently declassified. Combining CGI and real-life aerial reenactments featuring actual historic aircraft, "Air Aces" provides a comprehensive look at these dynamic dogfights and the pilots who survived. Despite often facing insurmountable odds, the pilots profiled in this action-packed series exemplified bravery as they squared off with enemies over hot spots across the globe.


"Secret Weapons Revealed" features the top secret weapons – some brilliant, some far-fetched, and even some epic failures – that paved the way for future successes in weapons development. These arms were not developed by chance. Each was constructed to solve a tactical or strategic problem, such as overcoming Nazi defenses on D-Day, mounting a surprise attack over water, or safely moving an agent back and forth across enemy lines. "Secret Weapons Revealed" explores never before seen weapons and introduces viewers to the extraordinary people that invented these ingenious devices.


"Ultimate Warfare" takes an exciting new look at some of the greatest battlefield conflicts in modern history. Using cutting-edge CGI animation and “on the ground” interviews to bring a new perspective to each battle, every episode profiles the decisive missions, heroes, and weapons, all of which played critical roles in turning the tide within historic battles.


"Black Ops" pulls back the curtain shrouding the top secret world of successful special ops missions. Whether taking out fanatical terrorists or halting implacable enemies, in the words of General Stanley McCrystal, there are times when military forces realize they’re dealing with “irreconcilables” and extraordinary measures are required. "Black Ops"  reveals the workings of the elite special operations units charged with these assignments and shares the inside story of some of the most dramatic military actions in recent history.


Military Channel’s new series goes behind the scenes of assassination attempts that changed the course of history. Using rare archival footage, recreations and CGI animation, each episode focuses on a notorious attempted homicide. First-hand accounts of the most scandalous, history-altering assassination attempts of our time reveal the mysterious, often unknown motives and the devastating aftermaths of "Infamous Assassinations." 



Hollywood film and television star Lou Diamond Phillips – a former "Navy brat" himself – hosts the hit franchise "An Office and a Movie," which brings the biggest military blockbusters to the Military Channel including "The Hunt for Red October," "Courage Under Fire" and "A Few Good Men." "An Officer and a Movie" pairs Phillips with military experts and officers who lived through major battles or have an expertise in the conflicts at the center of these Hollywood films, asking them to reflect on its themes and provide personal insight that puts each movie into modern context. Intervieweesinclude top military leaders like 4-Star General Barry McCaffrey (Ret.); Major General Daniel B. Allyn, Commander of the 1st Cavalry Division currently deployed in Afghanistan; and Dick Marcinko, 1st Commanding Officer of SEAL Team VI and Red Cell.


Mankind’s greatest engineering feats are often its most powerful weapons. Helicopters, stealth technology, guns, bombs, planes are among the tools of war, and they often provide the key advantage that secures victory on the battlefield. "Combat Tech" takes an in-depth look at the greatest military engineering accomplishments, revealing how they work, how they came to be, and how they made a difference in the theater of war.


"Top Tens" continues to get bigger and better with all-new stories that showcase game-changing technology by ranking the greatest achievements within different categories of weapon systems. Each episode selects ten machines that have left their mark on the history of warfare and ranks them based on expert opinion, audience polls and technical comparison. Viewers have the opportunity to travel the world to see this military technology in action and meet the brave soldiers who put it to use every day.



The most important presidential decisions are not decided after months of contemplation, but in the days, hours, and minutes when action is of the utmost importance. And at the end of the day, these globally influential decisions are left to one man, America’s Commander in Chief. As the most ambitious special in Military Channel’s history, "Commander in Chief" profiles the complicated missions, high-stakes decisions, and tussles for power that originate within the White House during times of national crisis.


"12 Minutes of Infamy" is a revealing one-hour special that illuminates the untold stories of the minute-by-minute set of events of Pearl Harbor, from the shocking arrival of the first wave of Japanese aircraft over the harbor to the dropping of the bomb that destroyed the U.S.S. Arizona only 12 minutes later. Viewers experience a ticking-clock forensic dissection of “a date that which will live in infamy” that galvanized the world and led America to declare war the very next day. "12 Minutes of Infamy"will premiere in December 2012 to commemorate this dark day in American history.


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