The Script Doctor
Vital info; but commercials undercut context, time to think, to feel, and experience #Rachel Maddow
Frontline documentary on "The Education of Michelle Rhee"
Not as compelling or as fresh as Frontline’s DROPOUT NATION last fall, THE EDUCATION OF MICHELLE RHEE raises more questions than it answers. Once again, it proves how hard it is to join the issues in reporting on education when the answers have more to do with the general health of the children being educated and the management of a bureaucracy than with teaching. Alexander Russo’s comments on the PR “coincidences” surrounding the Frontline documentary are intriguing and worth pursuing. Knowing that this is a compilation of PBS NewsHour reports somewhat explains its limitations. Had I known that and hadn’t seen the press on Rhee’s new venture I might not have watched. I got the attitude, the personality, the controversy, but overall I wanted to learn more.
Obsession and money -- what it takes to be a documentary filmmaker
Getting attention, finding money and finding your audience is a challenge for today’s documentary filmmaker. I didn’t see “Until They Are Home”, but I know how important reviews and awards are and have to admire Barber’s strategies. This year-end story from the NYT has stayed with me:
A Documentary Maker Puts Money on an Oscar Ad
By MICHAEL CIEPLY
So who needs a Lexus? Mr. Barber, who operates from a rent-controlled apartment here, bought a full-page “for your consideration” ad in Variety instead.
The ad, said Mr. Barber, who spoke by telephone last week, cost him a little less than its standard price of $13,500. As with almost everything related to his movies, he haggled — but at least he didn’t ask Variety for a contribution.
“I ask everyone for money,” said Mr. Barber, who describes himself as a salesman by nature. In fact, he makes a living by selling advertising when he isn’t pursuing his passion for documentary films, and especially those about repatriating the remains of American military personnel who died abroad.
No right to vote in the U. S. Constitution
Watching ELECTORAL DYSFUNCTION stirred me to ask why isn’t there a public discussion to limit the time spent on political campaigns, why isn’t everyone automatically registered, why don’t we have a Sunday, Monday, Tuesday voting holiday period, why don’t we have an independent commission to administer the elections, and why do we waste millions on negative advertising instead of requiring television stations to present positive policy positions of the candidates and parties?
Maybe if teachers show this documentary in grade school and high school social studies classes, a new generation will take up these issues.
As one child says when confronted with a demonstration of how the Electoral College works, “It’s not fair!”
Electoral Dysfunction -- Mo Rocca documentary
Producer/director Bennett Singer
showed his documentary at Columbia Journalism School last night and I asked him afterward if PBS was showing it — about 70% of stations, he said. See it in New York at 9 p.m. on WLIW Channel 21 on October 28th. and in Chicago at 9:30 p.m. on WTTW October 30th. More local listings at http://electoraldysfunction.org
This is exactly the kind of program that PBS should broadcast nationally and be seen by 67 million voters. Mo Rocca’s humor and even-handed reporting raise vital questions about our electoral process that neither President Obama or Governor Romney talked about in their 3 debates.