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TCA Winter Tour 2012 Diary, Day 1 - PBS

Jacob Jester - January 5, 2012






This year's Television Critics Association (TCA) Winter Press tour kicked off yesterday with PBS's first round of interviews. Panels featured topics from slavery to songwriting, more than a few laugh-out-loud moments, and one guy dressed as a cat. It's not as weird as it sounds.


Recaps and highlights below.






TV celebrity chef and restaurateur Lidia Bastianach opened the interviews answering questions about her new program, LIDIA CELEBRATES AMERICA. The show will celebrate food by visiting different cultures' culinary traditions. Tonight's clip was from an episode about Korean weddings featuring former SURVIVOR cast member Yul Kwon.


Highlights from the interview included Lidia describing her proudest moment – serving the Pope – and the only herb she will never put in her mouth – "I can't stand cilantro, so don't give me cilantro," joked the chef. Future foodies are warned: maybe try giving her some Chinese parsley instead.

Celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich and featured participant Yul Kwon

discuss the celebration of culture through food, with a focus on the

traditions surrounding weddings. Photo credit: Rahoul Ghose/PBS.


LIDIA CELEBRATES AMERICA airs April 17th at 8pm on PBS.

The producers of
AMERICAN EXPERIENCE previewed a new two-part documentary bio on President Bill Clinton, and answered questions about their investigations into his life and the scandal that nearly defined his presidency. Producer Harry Thomason shared some lighter fare about Clinton's foray into late night talk shows: due to Carson's no-politician policy, Clinton had to appear as a musical guest.

Series executive producer Mark Samels;

television, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Barak Goodman; and

Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post journalist David Maraniss.

Photo credit: Rahoul Ghose/PBS.


AMERICAN EXPERIENCE's two-part documentary "Bill Clinton" airs February 20th and 21st on PBS.



Henry Louis Gates, Jr. took the stage to talk about his new 10-part series, FINDING YOUR ROOTS, which will explore the family trees of celebrity guests such as Samuel L. Jackson; Harry Conick, Jr.; Robert Downey, Jr.; Barbara Walters; and others. Gates spoke of bringing his passion for genetics and genealogy to enlighten others about their family histories.  In the day's most amusing/unsettling revelation, Gates revealed that two guests of the show, married celebrity couple Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon, are in fact distant cousins. Sedgwick is now possibly the only person in history to lose the game "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon."

Host and executive producer Henry Louis Gates, Jr. discusses

the new 10-part series. Photo credit: Rahoul Ghose/PBS.


FINDING YOUR ROOTS WITH HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR. premieres March 25th at 8pm on PBS.


PBS Kids "Cat in the Hat" Snack Break

And then this happened:




Douglas A. Blackmon, Pulitzer prize winning author of "Slavery By Another Name," and Sam Pollard, Emmy-award winning filmmaker and director of the book's documentary adaptation, took questions about this upcoming documentary about slavery after the Civil War's end.  The doc will cover the decades following the Emancipation Proclamation, during which thousands of black Americans were forced back into slavery.

Executive producer Catherine Allan, filmmaker Sam Pollard,

descendant Dr. Sharon Malone, descendant Susan Tuggle Burnore

and co-executive producer Douglas A. Blackmon.

Photo credit: Rahoul Ghose/PBS


SLAVERY BY ANOTHER NAME premieres February 13th at 9-10:30pm on PBS.


Michael Feinstein opened with style on his baby grand playing the tune "I Love a Piano." Ivories sufficiently tickled, Feinstein sat down to talk about season two of his series AMERICAN SONGBOOK, which explores the legacies of such musical giants as Liberace and George and Ira Gershwin.


Feinstein regaled the audience with thoughts on Liberace's influence on glitzy entertainers such as Lady Gaga and Amy Winehouse, and, not content to simply speak his answers, periodically broke into impromptu musical numbers. He also recounted tales of time spent in his friend Hugh Hefner's Playboy mansion. Hef, a music enthusiast and avid collector, appears in Feinstein's series in interviews and stock footage.

Michael Feinstein performs. Photo credit: Rahoul Ghose/PBS.


The second season of AMERICAN SONGBOOK premieres Friday, February 3rd at 9pm and new episodes air at 9pm on the next two Fridays, February 10th and 17th.

The B-52s Live in Concert

The B-52s closed out the evening with a bang bang (on the door, baby), with a preview of their first live album, "The B-52s With the Wild Crowd," and a live performance so great even PBS president Paula Kerger had to get up and dance. I still don't know what a rock lobster or a bikini whale is, but singing about them was the perfect way to finish the night.

Kate Pierson, Fred Schneider, Keith Strickland and Cindy Wilson

of The B-52s perform. Photo credit: Rahoul Ghose/PBS.


The special, THE B-52S WITH THE WILD CROWD: LIVE IN ATHENS, GA, airs March 3rd on PBS.