WLJT to run baseball series ‘The Tenth Inning’
Posted: Thursday, September 23, 2010 1:25 pm
WCP 9.21.10 Thousands of bats, three home run records and one “curse” have been broken since Ken Burns last explored the history of America’s national pastime with his landmark 1994 PBS series Baseball. Now Burns and co-director Lynn Novick bring the series to the present The Tenth Inning. The documentary series will air Tuesday-Wednesday, Sept. 28-29, 2010, 7 p.m. on WLJT, Channel 11. The program is directed by Burns and Novick and written and produced by David McMahon, Novick, and Burns.
The Tenth Inning tells the tumultuous story of America’s national pastime from the early 1990s to the present day, introducing an unforgettable array of players, teams and fans, celebrating the game’s resilience and enduring appeal, and showcasing both extraordinary accomplishments — and devastating losses and disappointments.
The film highlights dramatic developments that transformed the game: the crippling 1994 strike that left many fans disillusioned with their heroes; the increasing dominance of Latino and Asian players who turned baseball into a truly international game; baseball’s skyrocketing profits, thanks to new stadiums, interleague play, and the wild card; the rise of a new Yankee Dynasty; the Red Sox’ historic World Series victory; the astonishing feats of Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds; and the revelations about performance-enhancing drugs that cast a shadow on many of the era’s greatest stars and their accomplishments.
Combining extraordinary highlights, stunning still photographs, popular music of the period, and insightful commentary by players, managers, experts and fans, Burns and Novick’s The Tenth Inning interweaves the story of the national pastime with the story of America. In an age of globalization, deregulation and speculation, the film demonstrates that baseball has continued to be a mirror of the country — at its best and at its worst. The film also movingly shows that when America felt most threatened, following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, baseball offered common ground, providing Americans with solace, distraction, and the hope that things could one day return to normal.
The film will air 16 years after the original Emmy Award-winning, nine-part documentary series Baseball debuted in 1994 during the players’ strike. The original series was seen by more than 43 million viewers,.
“Baseball has changed so much in the last 15 years, but at the same time, the reason that the game is so enduring is that it is timeless,” said Ken Burns. “Like the original series, this film pays tribute to one of our nation’s greatest institutions. We celebrate tremendous athletic achievements and examine the humanity and diversity of the players, the dynamic relationship with the fans, and all the layers and nuances that make a seemingly simple exercise of hitting a ball with a stick infinitely fascinating.”
“We have worked hard to provide a human dimension to the recent history of the game — to appreciate the great athletes who have given so much joy to so many, and to understand the real-world forces shaping their decisions,” Lynn Novick said. “For us as filmmakers, it has been tremendously exciting, and challenging, to try to do justice to this complicated story, and to try to understand what it says about who we are.”
“Baseball is one of the most popular series that PBS has ever broadcast, and ever since fans have been asking if there would be more,” said John F. Wilson, PBS chief TV programming executive. “We’re extremely excited that Ken, Lynn and the team at Florentine Films and WETA have taken to the field again to deliver another outstanding chapter to the ongoing saga of baseball.”
A number of familiar faces from the first nine installments of the series add their welcome perspectives on events of the last 15 years, including writers Roger Angell, John Thorn, George Will, Gerald Early and Doris Kearns Goodwin, as well as broadcaster Bob Costas. The film also features revealing interviews with Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, managers Felipe Alou and Joe Torre, players Pedro Martinez, Omar Vizquel and Ichiro Suzuki, broadcaster Keith Olbermann, writers Marcos Breton, Tom Verducci, Selena Roberts, Mike Barnicle and Howard Bryant, and other players, writers and fans from across the country, as well as overseas.
Fans of the series will be able to explore even more of The Tenth Inning online at pbs.org/tenthinning by watching online video; traveling with Ken Burns on an interactive Google map as he treks to ballparks around the country this summer; downloading lesson plans; and sharing their own baseball stories.