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Ken Burns to Produce PBS Doc ‘The Emperor of All Maladies,’ Aims to Create a National Conversation About Cancer

Ken Burns to Produce PBS Doc 'The Emperor of All Maladies,' Aims to Create a National Conversation About Cancer

Acclaimed documentarian
Ken Burns has taken on a project of epic proportions for PBS. “CANCER: The
Emperor of All Maladies” is based on on
the Pulitzer Prize-winning book “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography
of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee, M.D., with whom Burns will be closely
collaborating. The “Central Park Five” filmmaker will serve as producer, while signed on to direct is award-winning filmmaker
and fellow documentarian Barak Goodman (“Clinton,” “The American Experience”). The goal of the project is to create a
national conversation about cancer, and it is already being hailed as one
of the largest, most comprehensive educational programs in the history of
documentary filmmaking.

This national outreach
and engagement campaign is made possible by involvement from Stand Up To
Cancer (SU2C), a program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) that
works to accelerate innovative cancer research and to increase awareness about
progress being made in the fight against the disease, in addition to WETA
Washington, D.C., the flagship public broadcasting station in the nation’s
capital and production partner on all Ken Burns films. The campaign will
include education materials, screenings, and conferences, as well as an extensive
website with a wealth of medical information as well as a network of personal
stories intended to create a community not just between patients and survivors,
but the world at large.

WETA President and CEO
Sharon Percy Rockefeller brought Burns and Mukherjee together after being
deeply affected by the book as during treatment for cancer. Burns and Mukherjee have
personal connections to the project as well, with Burns saying in the announcement that “My work
as a filmmaker is directly linked to the death of my mother from cancer when I
was 11. From the age of three, I watched her suffer and struggle with this
awful disease, forever creating for me a desire to explore the past and to
listen deeply to the stories that we all have to tell. I was frightened and
exhilarated by Sid’s book and thrilled by Sharon’s suggestion that we
collaborate to turn this remarkable accomplishment into a film.”

adds that the book grew out of his experience as a cancer physician: “Treating cancer is one of the most significant human challenges we’ve
ever faced.” But he notes that now that we are finally
beginning to understand cancer in a way that we didn’t 10 years ago, the
impulse to share the journey with the public is strong.

“CANCER: The Emperor of All Maladies” will be produced by Florentine Films, Laura Ziskin Pictures, and WETA Washington, D.C., in association with Ark Media. The three-part, six-hour series will air on PBS in spring 2015. 

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