CPB Funds Work on “The Latino Americans”

WETA Washington, D.C. and Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB) have formed a partnership to produce a multi-part documentary series for PBS chronicling the experience, influence and impact of Latinos on the American historical narrative. With the support of a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), research and development work has begun on The Latino Americans, slated to be broadcast in fall, 2011.

The production partners view this project as timely and compelling, in light of the current debate over immigration issues today, a discussion being carried out in the halls of government and around kitchen tables across America. The influx of Latinos to the United States is nothing less than one of the largest flows of immigration in the history of the world.

The Latino Americans will consist of three, two-hour episodes, tracing the history of Latino immigration to the United States. Beginning with the founding of the country in 1776, The Latino Americans will illuminate the contributions made by Latino immigrants, and provide the historical underpinnings to the present debate surrounding immigration from Latin America.

“Latinos are already the largest minority ethnic group in the country, and are soon projected to be a majority of the American population,” said Sharon Percy Rockefeller, president and CEO of WETA. “The nation needs a better understanding of the Latino American culture, the challenges the Latino community has faced, and the multi-faceted issues the Latino population presents our society today. This series will shed light on this important segment of the American fabric.”

WETA boasts considerable experience producing landmark series for public television, including serving as co-producer of films by Ken Burns, and, in collaboration with LPB, The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo. In addition, WETA has demonstrated substantial expertise in chronicling the immigrant experience in America, producing, also with LPB, My Journey Home in 2004, tracing the individual histories of three distinct immigrant experiences, and most recently producing the acclaimed PBS series, The Jewish Americans. The Washington Post called the series a “triumphant tale,” while Newsday said The Jewish Americans was “big, rich and generous.”

LPB has for a decade developed, produced, acquired and distributed projects that shed light on the Latino American experience. Their history of providing a voice to the diverse Latino community throughout the United States includes the projects Al Otro Lado, following the journey, choices and impact of illegal immigrants as they cross the Mexican border into the United States; Roberto Clemente, chronicling the life of the legendary baseball player; and VOCES, a dynamic thirteen part series devoted to exploring and showcasing the best of Latino culture.

“Latino Public Broadcasting is excited to be partnering with CPB and WETA in this landmark series,” said Patricia Boero, executive director of Latino Public Broadcasting and co-executive producer of the series. “For the first time, the full story will be told: how millions of immigrants from the rich array of Latin American origins have shaped and been shaped by their adopted country. In producing the series and reaching out to all communities, we will bring to light the nuances of our different cultures and shared histories — and our profound interconnectedness. And the project will bring greater numbers of Latino and Latina producers and viewers to PBS.”

The Latino Americans will be supported by an extensive educational outreach and promotion initiative with bilingual components, designed to spark a meaningful dialogue on the relevant issues among all Americans and lend perspective and depth to Americans’ understanding of the Latino culture and contribution. The project will also be developed to reach out specifically to the Latino American community nationwide and the core PBS audience, and with considerable opportunities beyond the broadcast for the public to make use of the rich outreach content for years to come.

“This important series will showcase the significant contributions Latinos have made and continue to make culturally, professionally and throughout all levels of American life,” said Patricia Harrison, president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The chronicle of Latino history in America will trace three centuries of Latino immigration to the United States from the mid-18th century to today. The film will be populated by characters that bring a more intimate, human interest perspective to the broad sweep of Latino history.

The series producer of The Latino Americans will be Adriana Bosch, a veteran creator of acclaimed television for public broadcasting, including films for The American Experience on Fidel Castro, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. Bosch will work with several Latino and Latina producers in producing each segment of The Latino Americans. The executive producers for WETA will be Jeff Bieber and Dalton Delan.

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. For more information please visit www.cpb.org.

Created in 1998 by Edward James Olmos and Marlene Dermer, Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB) is a non-profit organization funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. LPB’s mission is to support the development, production, post-production, acquisition and distribution of non-commercial educational and cultural television that is representative of or addresses issues of particular interest to U.S. Latinos. These programs are produced for dissemination to public broadcasting stations and other public telecommunication entities. Mr. Olmos is presently LPB’s Chairman of the Board of Directors. For more information please visit www.lpbp.org.

WETA Washington, D.C., is the third-largest producing station for public television. WETA’s other productions and co-productions include The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, America at a Crossroads, American Valor, The Journey Home, The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo, The Kennedy Center’s Mark Twain Prize, In Performance at the White House, and documentaries by filmmaker Ken Burns, including The Civil War and THE WAR. More information on WETA and its programs and services is available at www.weta.org.

Contact: Kate Kelly