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PBS Preview: Six New ‘Makers’ Documentaries Focus on Groundbreaking Women

PBS Preview: Six New 'Makers' Documentaries Focus on Groundbreaking Women

At the semi-annual Television Critics Association conference ending Wednesday, PBS announced that their next “Makers” series is focusing on groundbreaking women. Set to air six Tuesday nights this fall between September 30 and November 4, these one-hour “Makers” docs will spotlight women in six spheres of influence—comedy, Hollywood, space, business, politics, and war. I participated in Rory Kennedy and Linda Goldstein Knowlton’s doc about Women in Hollywood.

They’re among the top filmmakers producing and directing episodes of this six-part series that expands on the three-hour PBS documentary on the women’s movement, “MAKERS: Women Who Make America,” which premiered in February 2013 and drew more than 4.3 million viewers. This new doc series probes women’s impact on American culture and life via intimate interviews with trailblazers–some famous, some not–about what it was like to be pioneers in their fields.

“MAKERS is not just a media project, it is a movement,” said Dyllan McGee, Founder and Executive Producer of MAKERS. “Each documentary in this six-part series examines the impact of the women’s movement on six fields once largely closed to women. The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media reports that since 1946, gender inequality on screen has remained largely unchanged and unchecked and our goal at MAKERS is to help change that statistic.”

This broadcast collaboration with AOL’s multi-platform initiative aims to assemble the largest collection of women’s stories ever, including the growing collection of over 250 original interviews online at MAKERS.com. This new “Makers” series will be available for streaming on PBS.org and MAKERS.com after their PBS broadcast.

Here’s the full line-up of documentaries:

MAKERS: Women in Comedy tracks the rise of women in the world of comedy, from the “dangerous” comedy of ‘70s sitcoms like Maude to the groundbreaking women of the 1980s American comedy club boom and building to today’s multifaceted landscape. Today, movies like Bridesmaids break box office records and the women of Saturday Night Live are often more famous than their male counterparts. Contemporary comics, including Chelsea Handler, Mo’Nique, Sarah Silverman, Joan Rivers, Ellen DeGeneres, Jane Lynch and Kathy Griffin, talk about where women started in this competitive, male-dominated profession and where they are determined to go. Produced and directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady. Narrated by Leslie Mann. The documentary is scheduled to air September 30 on PBS at 9pm.

MAKERS: Women in Hollywood showcases the women of showbiz, from the earliest pioneers to present-day power players, as they influence the creation of one of the country’s biggest commodities: entertainment. Audiences hear from actress-producer-activist Jane Fonda, who at 75 is playing a sharp, sexy and powerful media mogul on the award-winning series The Newsroom; television powerhouse Shonda Rhimes, who created Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal; screenwriter Linda Woolverton, who re-imagined the traditional Disney princess by making Belle (Beauty and the Beast) a self-possessed, strong-willed young woman; director Ava DuVernay, who was the first African-American to win best director at Sundance for her film, Middle of Nowhere; writer-director-actress Lena Dunham, who mines comedy and drama gold by exploring what it’s really like to be a young woman today; and Academy Award-winner Geena Davis. Produced by Rory Kennedy with Producer/Director Linda Goldstein Knowlton. Narrated by Julia Roberts. The documentary is scheduled to air October 7 on PBS at 9pm.

MAKERS: Women in Space traces the history of women pioneers in the U.S. space program. Some, like aviators Wally Funk and Jerrie Cobb, passed the same grueling tests as male astronauts, only to be dismissed by NASA, the military, and even Lyndon Johnson, as a distraction. It wasn’t until 1995 that Eileen Collins became the first woman to pilot a spacecraft. The program includes interviews with Collins, as well as Sally Ride’s classmates Shannon Lucid, Rhea Seddon and Kathryn Sullivan, and features Mae Jemison, the first woman of color astronaut, and Peggy Whitson, the first female commander of the International Space Station. The hour ends with the next generation of women engineers, mathematicians and astronauts—the new group of pioneers, like Marleen Martinez, who continue to make small but significant steps forward. Produced by Michael Epstein and Sara Wolitzky.  Directed by Michael Epstein. Narrated by Jodie Foster. The documentary is scheduled to air October 14 on PBS at 9pm.

MAKERS: Women in Politics profiles women in public office who were “firsts” in their fields. From the first woman elected to Congress in 1916 to a young woman running for Detroit City Council in 2013, the documentary explores the challenges confronting American women in politics. Trailblazing leaders like Hillary Clinton, Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) along with Patricia Schroeder, the first woman elected to Congress from Colorado, Olympia Snowe, the youngest Republican woman ever elected to the House of Representatives, and Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman to serve in Congress, provide a backdrop for younger women like Rashida Tlaib, the first Muslim-American woman elected to the Michigan House, and Raquel Castaneda-Lopez, who chronicles her run for Detroit City Council. Today’s leaders in Washington, including Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), the first female Senator from Massachusetts, Susan Collins (R-ME), who led the Senate in shaping a deal to end the government shutdown, and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), currently the youngest woman serving in Congress, are also represented. Produced by Rory Kennedy with Producer/Director Grace Lee. Narrated by Alfre Woodard. The documentary is scheduled to air October 21 on PBS at 9pm.

MAKERS: Women in Business tells the story of the exceptional women—past and present—who have taken the world of business by storm. Told by female business leaders themselves, this is a candid exploration of what it takes to make it and a celebration of the extraordinary individuals who, over the course of 50 years, have proven—on Wall Street, in corporate America or business empires of their own—that a woman’s place is wherever she believes it to be. Some of the featured business leaders include Ursula Burns, the CEO of Xerox and the first African-American woman to head a Fortune 500 company; Sallie Krawcheck, Wall Street powerhouse and current owner of the global networking platform for women, 85 Broads; Cathy Hughes, radio and television personality and the first African-American woman to head a publicly traded corporation; lifestyle mogul and business magnate Martha Stewart; and Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, whose provocative book, Lean In, ignited a national conversation about women, feminism and equality in the workplace. Produced by Leah Williams and directed by Jamila Wignot.  Narrator TBD. The documentary is scheduled to air October 28 on PBS at 9pm.

MAKERS: Women in War looks at American women’s increasing participation in war—from Vietnam to the present—as nurses, soldiers, journalists, diplomats and spies. Among those featured are Linda Bray, the first woman to lead troops into battle, and Valerie Plame Wilson, whose career was sabotaged after she was “outed” as a high-level spy. Viewers hear from war correspondents like Molly Moore about life on the battlefield. The film shares the stories of military leaders who have broken through gender barriers, like General Angela Salinas, at her retirement the highest ranking woman serving in the USMC, and Vice Admiral Michelle Howard, the highest-ranking woman in the history of the U.S. Navy. Produced and directed by Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing. Narrated by Christiane Amanpour. The documentary is scheduled to air November 4 on PBS at 9pm.

Executive Producers are Dyllan McGee and Peter Kunhardt. Senior Producer is Rachel Dretzin.  The documentary is produced by Kunhardt McGee Productions in association with Ark Media, Loki Films, Moxie Firecracker Films and WETA Washington, D.C. Major funding provided by AOL. Additional corporate funding provided by Simple Facial Skincare,and Verizon. Foundation funding is provided by The Charles H. Revson Foundation and the Ford Foundation. Support is also provided by CPB and PBS.

“Makers,” produced in association with the Independent Television Service’s (ITVS) Women and Girls Lead campaign and presented by WETA Washington, D.C., will be featured at Community Cinema screenings in over 85 cities across the country starting in September. Visit www.pbs.org/cinema.

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Comments

rama

Looks good. Always love see Ava and Lena anywhere.

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