December 13, 2007 06:00 ET

ITVS Announces Significant Investment in Miniseries About Religion to Air in 2009 on PBS

Additional Funding From CPB, PBS Will Bring to Television the Four-Part Documentary Series About Americans Called To Serve Their Faiths

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - December 13, 2007) - The Independent Television Service (ITVS) announced today that it has made a significant investment in a four-part documentary series about religion in the U.S. to be broadcast in 2009 on PBS. ITVS' support of the program is bolstered by a recent announcement of other major funding from the Program Challenge Fund from the CPB (Corporation for Public Broadcasting) and PBS (Public Broadcasting Service).

"THE CALLING" presents a four-hour, in-depth exploration of faith in the U.S. through the dramatic journeys of dedicated Americans who have chosen to become religious leaders. As they approach a lifetime of service and spiritual leadership, these Muslims, Catholics, Evangelical Christians and Jews struggle to balance religious convictions, rigorous academics, professional responsibilities and personal relationships. Their intimate portraits will provide a rich, nuanced portrayal of religion in America never before seen on national television. "THE CALLING" is projected for broadcast on PBS in 2009.

"Religion is a big part of life for most Americans, and our support for 'THE CALLING' is on mission for ITVS as we work to bring the best in diverse stories from independent producers to public television," said Sally Jo Fifer, President and CEO of ITVS. "Independent filmmakers tell the stories that chronicle our national life and help us all to better understand each other and ourselves. 'THE CALLING' promises to do just that; ITVS is proud to be supporting this extraordinary project."

Series Executive Producer Danny Alpert of The Kindling Group -- the Chicago-based production company that has a lead role in the production -- plans to leverage the widespread appeal anticipated for this project with an innovative, multi-platform community engagement campaign designed to build audiences before the broadcast and extend the reach of the series into communities across the nation.

"With production just started, this generous funding comes at just the right time for 'THE CALLING,'" says Alpert. "We are thrilled to have ITVS, PBS and CPB on board, and we value the substantial reach and impact that their partnership brings to the series."

"Viewers turn to PBS for programs that enlarge their world and deepen their understanding," said John F. Wilson, PBS Senior Vice President and Chief TV Programming Executive. "'THE CALLING' follows the stories of several individuals whose religious faith informs all aspects of their daily lives, a fascinating journey that is both intensely personal and highly public as they lead their respective congregations."

Additional funders for "THE CALLING" include The Hartley Foundation, The Irving B. Harris Foundation, the Samuel Zell Foundation, The Henry Luce Foundation and numerous private donors.


The Independent Television Service (ITVS) funds and presents award-winning documentaries and dramas on public television, innovative new media projects on the Web and the Emmy Award-winning weekly series "Independent Lens" on Tuesday nights at 10:00 PM on PBS. ITVS is a miracle of public policy created by media activists, citizens and politicians seeking to foster plurality and diversity in public television. ITVS was established by a historic mandate of Congress to champion independently produced programs that take creative risks, spark public dialogue and serve underserved audiences. Since its inception in 1991, ITVS programs have revitalized the relationship between the public and public television, bringing TV audiences face-to-face with the lives and concerns of their fellow Americans. More information about ITVS can be obtained by visiting ITVS is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.


The Corporation for Public Broadcasting is a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967. The mission of CPB is to facilitate the development of, and ensure universal access to, non-commercial high-quality programming and telecommunications services. It does this in conjunction with non-commercial educational telecommunications licensees across America.


PBS is a media enterprise that serves 355 public noncommercial television stations and reaches nearly 73 million people each week through on-air and online content. Bringing diverse viewpoints to television and the Internet, PBS provides high-quality documentary and dramatic entertainment, and consistently dominates the most prestigious award competitions. PBS is a leading provider of digital learning content for pre-K-12 educators and offers a broad array of other educational services. PBS' premier kids' TV programming and Web site, PBS KIDS Online (, continue to be parents' and teachers' most trusted learning environments for children. More information about PBS is available at, one of the leading dot-org Web sites on the Internet.


The Kindling Group is a nonprofit organization that fosters enlightening, innovative and engaging documentary filmmaking and promotes the civic and educational impact of such films. While producing "THE CALLING," Kindling is completing work on "Do No Harm," which explores an emerging scandal in our nation's nonprofit hospitals and examines the need for affordable health care in the U.S. Kindling's most recent production, "A Doula Story," is currently airing on PBS stations across the nation.

Kindling Executive Director Daniel Alpert has been producing, directing and editing award-winning films for PBS, HBO and A&E for more than 15 years. He directed "A Doula Story" and for A&E Networks "A History of God," a two-hour documentary special based on the best-seller by British theologian Karen Armstrong. Alpert co-produced and edited "Legacy," a feature length documentary for HBO, which was nominated for a 2001 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, a National News and Documentary Emmy for Best Documentary and was an official selection at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival. From 1994 to 1997, he produced "No Time to Be a Child," a three-part series that aired nationally on PBS, and received many critical honors, including a nomination for a national Emmy Award.

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