As part of its lineup of programming tied to the presidential election, PBS has scheduled encore broadcasts of six American Experience biographies from the Peabody Award-winning collection The Presidents. The special series begins on Monday, August 8 with a two-night special on JFK, and concludes Thursday, August 18 with George H. W. Bush.
“These films offer a chance for Americans to explore the lives of the leaders who shaped our country and see how each dealt with many of the same issues we face today — war, poverty, healthcare, immigration, and education,” said Mark Samels, American Experience Executive Producer. “Each was shaped by the times in which they governed, as well as by their personalities and character. As we choose our next leader, these films provide an invaluable look back at the qualities that make an effective president and shape a legacy.”
Beth Hoppe, Chief Programming Executive and General Manager, General Audience Programming, PBS, added, “This year offers a timely opportunity to revisit the stories of six presidents who have helped to shape our nation. We are delighted to offer these special encore broadcasts of The Presidents from American Experience, and know our viewers will enjoy the chance to learn more about these leaders and their unique contributions to our country.”
The six films feature insight and commentary from America’s leading presidential historians including Doris Kearns Goodwin, Robert Dallek, Robert Caro, Tim Naftali, and Douglas Brinkley, and interviews with world leaders, family members, and political insiders from Nancy Reagan to Colin Powell, from Mikhail Gorbachev to Barbara Bush.
The complete schedule for The Presidents is below:
JFK – Monday and Tuesday, August 8-9, 9:00-11:00 p.m.
Forever enshrined in myth by an assassin’s bullet, John F. Kennedy’s presidency has often defied objective appraisal. This portrait offers a fresh assessment of the man, his accomplishments, and his unfulfilled promise. JFK features interviews with Kennedy family members and historians including Robert Dallek, Robert Caro, Tim Naftali and Evan Thomas.
LBJ – Wednesday, August 10, 8:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m.
Lyndon Baines Johnson was one of the most astute, effective, and perplexing politicians in modern American history. An “accidental” president but a master legislator, LBJ put into motion many of the programs that would continue to shape American life throughout the 1960s and 70s. A larger-than-life figure in his day, LBJ is appreciated for his vast domestic accomplishments, but his presidency continues to be overshadowed by his failure to end the war in Vietnam.
Nixon – Thursday, August 11, 8:00-11:00 p.m.
Winner of a Writers Guild Award and the first American Experience presidential biography produced, Nixon explores the fateful combination of strengths and weaknesses that propelled Richard Nixon to the presidency and then brought him down. His legacy includes both ending America’s involvement in Vietnam and the Watergate scandal. Forced to resign, his administration did much to erode Americans’ faith in their government.
Jimmy Carter – Monday, August 15, 9:00-11:00 p.m.
Jimmy Carter’s story is one of the greatest dramas in American politics. Overwhelmingly voted out of office in a humiliating defeat in 1980, over the following decades he became one of the most admired statesmen and humanitarians in America and the world. Jimmy Carter traces his rapid ascent in politics, dramatic fall from grace, and unexpected resurrection.
Reagan – Tuesday and Wednesday, August 16-17, 9:00-11:00 p.m.
The life of the actor, governor, and president who saw America as “a shining city on a hill” is recalled by those who knew him best: wife Nancy Reagan and three of his children. Also interviewed are those in his inner political circle as well as his counterparts on the world stage, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who negotiated historic arms agreements with Reagan.
George H. W. Bush – Thursday, August 18, 8:00-11:00 p.m.
With unparalleled access to figures in Bush’s private and public life, George H. W. Bush explores the life of a man who became a pivotal player during a critical moment in American and world history. Bush’s personal letters and comments from his closest advisors and prominent critics inform the film, which features interviews with First Lady Barbara Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, James Baker, and more.
American Experience recently launched The Presidents, an all-new digital portal showcasing more than 750 assets from the Peabody Award-winning collection of films about our nation’s most important leaders. The portal allows viewers to screen full-length films, delve deeper with experts and living witnesses, and examine more than 200 primary source documents. Video galleries on The Presidents site explore how different presidents faced issues including the economy, war, dealing with a crisis, and abuses of power.
Exclusive corporate funding for American Experience provided by Liberty Mutual Insurance. Major funding provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Major funding for The Presidents provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Celebrating 50 Years of Excellence. Additional funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and public television viewers. American Experience is produced for PBS by WGBH Boston.