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
"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
www.itvs.org. 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
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 (www.pbskids.org), continue to be
parents' and teachers' most trusted learning environments for children.
More information about PBS is available at www.pbs.org, one of the leading
dot-org Web sites on the Internet.
ABOUT THE KINDLING GROUP
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.