KCET Celebrates 40th Anniversary of Earth Day With Weeklong Slate of Programs Beginning April 18

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Featuring Prominent Films: “Earth Days,” “Dirt! The Movie” and the Oscar® Nominated, “Food Inc.”; Fascinating Conversation on Tavis Smiley; and Local Coverage by Huell Howser and SoCal Connected

KCET, public media for Southern and Central California, joins the celebration of Earth Day’s 40th anniversary with a new line-up of programs airing Sunday, April 18 through Thursday, April 22. Highlights include new episodes of three PBS series: "American Experience" brings acclaimed director Robert Stone’s “Earth Days” to primetime; POV features “Food, Inc.,” the Oscar-nominated critique of the U.S. food industry; and "Independent Lens" offers the entertaining and eye-opening “Dirt the Movie!” Huell Howser takes viewers on a green journey, and "Tavis Smiley" features a conversation with Steven Solomon, author of “Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization.” Other Earth Day-related programming airing on KCET includes an update of SoCal Connected’s “Ocean Defenders.”

KCET also honors Earth Day 2010 online at kcet.org , featuring Web-exclusive content such as Departures: L.A. River, a multimedia exploration of the past, present and future of the 52-mile ribbon that environmentalists and residents are working to revitalize. For complete schedule information, additional content and links to resources, visit http://www.kcet.org. KCET’s children’s programming for Earth Day will be announced separately and will include a special episode of Sid the Science Kid, co-produced by KCET and The Jim Henson Company.

From coast-to-coast, an astonishing 20 million Americans participated in the first observance of Earth Day on April 22, 1970. Its founder, the late Wisconsin senator and governor Gaylord Nelson, catapulted environmental protection onto the national agenda through his efforts to increase awareness of issues concerning land protection, wildlife habitat and environmental quality. Four decades later, the environment and climate change continue to make headlines. On-air and online KCET features historical and contemporary stories focusing on the importance of preserving natural resources and the environment as well as stories exploring the impact of human behavior on the our planet:

Sunday, April 18 (5:00 – 5:30 p.m.) –
“Thousand Suns: Food, Ecology and Religion” is a film about one of the world’s last bastions of biological and cultural diversity - the Gamo Highlands of Ethiopia. Isolated in the African Rift Valley the area has been densely populated - and sustainable -for 10,000 years. With extra-ordinary agricultural diversity it is the birthplace of an unprecedented number of varieties of barley, wheat and enset (false banana) and is sustained by a social system whose animist orientation has ensured the survival of 54 tribal groups.

Sunday, April 18 (7:00 – 8:00 p.m.) –
Huell Howser begins a week of programming in honor of Earth Day. Episodes of “California’s Green with Huell Howser” will air Sunday, April 18 (7:00-8:00 p.m.); Monday, April 19 through Friday, April 23 (7:30-8:00 p.m.); and Sunday, April 25 (7:00-8:00 p.m.). We all know how important it is to preserve and protect our fragile natural environment here in California. With ever-greater and faster population growth and development staring us in the face, it’s more critical now than ever to try and live in harmony with our state’s environment by preserving clean air, conserving water and dealing with issues like recycling and open spaces. This weeklong series of specials highlight what innovative and creative Californians are doing to solve environmental challenges.

Sunday, April 18 (8:00 – 9:00 p.m.) –
KCET reprises “Nature ‘Frogs: The Thin Green Line’” It is the greatest mass extinction since the dinosaurs. Population by population, species by species, amphibians are vanishing off the face of the Earth. Despite international alarm and scientists scrambling for answers, the steady hemorrhaging of amphibians continues like a leaky faucet that cannot be fixed or a wound that will not heal. Large-scale die-offs of frogs around the world have prompted scientists to take desperate measures to try to save those they can.

Sunday, April 18 (10:30 – 11:30 p.m.) –
KCET airs “Growing Greener Schools,” which looks at how today’s focus on green building is giving us a better understanding of the potential impacts our school buildings have, not only on the environment, but on our children’s - and their teachers’ - health and development. Armed with this new knowledge, many school districts across the country are taking “green” to a new level. Considering that one in five Americans spend their days in K-12 schools, this green-school movement is positioned to become a significant contributor to improving our nation's environmental and public health. The challenge, however, is in establishing green school definitions and standards that will meet the needs of under-represented people, struggling schools, diverse communities and geographical regions.

Monday, April 19 (9:00 – 11:00 p.m.) –
KCET premieres “American Experience” “Earth Days” by acclaimed director Robert Stone (“Oswald’s Ghost,” “Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst”). The filmmaker traces the origins of the modern environmental movement through the eyes of nine Americans who propelled the movement from its beginnings in the 1950s to its moment of triumph in 1970 with the original Earth Day and to its status as a major political force in America. The result is both a poetic meditation on man’s complex relationship with nature and a probing analysis of past responses to environmental crisis.

Tuesday, April 20 (8:00-9:00 p.m.) –
“Nova ‘The Big Energy Gamble’” shines the spotlight on California - an oasis of conservation in an energy-hungry country. Does California know something about energy the rest of the nation does not? The program will look at everything California is doing, from energy conservation and efficiency to the development of new sources of carbon-free power, to find out how the rest of the country can join in their aggressive pursuit of a sustainable energy future.

Tuesday, April 20 (10:00 – 11:00 p.m.) –
KCET premieres “Independent Lens ‘DIRT! The Movie’” Deftly combining science and humor, the program digs into the history and current state of the living organic matter from which we come from and where we will one day return. An eclectic group of passionate dirt lovers ranging from biologists to Rikers Island convicts and from activists to Nobel Laureates offer answers to problems and inspire us to clean up the mess that we’ve created. Jamie Lee Curtis narrates the film.

Wednesday, April 21 (9:00-11:00 p.m.) –
KCET premieres “POV ‘Food Inc.’” This Oscar nominated, sweeping and shockingly informative documentary points to sick animals, environmental degradation, tainted and unhealthy food and obesity, diabetes and other health issues as obvious problems with the highly mechanized and centralized U.S. agri-business system, which touts efficiency — and the low costs and high profits that result from it — as the supreme value in food production. What could possibly be wrong with that? According to the growing ranks of organic farmers, “slow-food” activists and concerned consumers cited in the film, the answer is “plenty.”

Thursday, April 22 (7:00 – 7:30 p.m.) –
“Tavis Smiley” features a conversation with journalist Steven Solomon, who describes in his new book, “Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization,” a terrifying – and all too real – world in which access to fresh water has replaced oil as the primary cause of global conflicts. Encore broadcast at 11:00 p.m.

Thursday, April 22 (8:00 – 8:30 p.m.) –
“SoCal Connected” presents an update of “Ocean Defenders,” the story about a group of volunteer scuba divers who head deep underwater to clean up shipwrecks and protect ocean life. Correspondent Angie Crouch spent the day with the Ocean Defenders Alliance Defenders’ on a mission off the coast of Catalina Island where a 150-foot deep wreck with a 9000-pound fishing net was trapping and killing sea lions and other marine life. After the original broadcast last summer, the nonprofit organization caught the attention of two foundations that awarded the group significant funding. Also in this program an encore broadcast of “Urban Coyotes” with correspondent Judy Muller. Officials have found that unlike other wildlife, the more we urbanize as a population, the more the coyote population grows, since the larger number of people directly results in more food and animals in the area. Kevin Brennan of the California Fish and Game Commission shows us what it’s like to really interact with a wild coyote.

Thursday, April 22 (9:00-10:00 p.m.) –
“Sense of Wonder” is a portrait of pioneering environmentalist Rachel Carson as she battles cancer and her critics in the wake of publishing the 1962 bestseller “Silent Spring.” Struggling with cancer, Carson recounts with both humor and anger the attacks by the chemical industry, the government and the press as she focuses her limited energy to get her message to Congress and the American people. In Bill Moyers’ introduction to the film, he notes that Carson was posthumously awarded America’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In his words, “it’s hard to overstate Carson’s impact on our world today.” A Sense of Wonder was shot by Oscar-winning cinematographer Haskell Wexler at Carson’s cottage on the coast of Maine.

Thursday, April 22 (10:00-11:00 p.m.) –
“Children of the Amazon” follows Brazilian filmmaker Denise Zmekhol as she travels a modern highway deep into the Amazon in search of the Indigenous Surui and Negarote children she photographed fifteen years ago. Part road movie, part time travel, her journey tells the story of what happened to life in the largest forest on Earth when a road was built straight through its heart.

About KCET
On-air, online and in the community, KCET plays a vital role in the cultural and educational enrichment of Southern and Central California. More than four million viewers watch KCET in the average month. KCET is the most-watched PBS station in Southern California and the second most-watched public television station in the nation. KCET has the largest geographic reach of any PBS station in California. In addition to its far-reaching broadcast signal, KCET is carried on satellite systems and on nearly 150 cable systems in 11 counties. Viewers from San Luis Obispo to San Diego, from Palm Springs to the Pacific Coast can enjoy the station’s high-quality programs.

National PBS series produced from the station’s Hollywood studios include four-time NAACP Award winner “Tavis Smiley” and the Peabody Award-winning series “A Place Of Our Own” and “Los Niños En Su Casa.” The educational animated series “Sid The Science Kid” is co-produced for PBS by KCET and The Jim Henson Company. KCET also produces the Emmy® Award-winning “SoCal Connected,” a hard-hitting prime-time weekly television news program that examines the issues and people of Southern California.

Throughout its more than 40-year history, KCET has won hundreds of major awards for its local and regional news and public affairs programming, its national drama and documentary productions, its quality educational family and children’s programs, its outreach and community services and its Web site, kcet.org.

KCET is a donor-supported community institution. More than half of the funds raised to support KCET’s operating budget come from individual support. For additional information about KCET productions, Web-exclusive content, programming schedules and community events, please visit kcet.org.

Jessica Robinson, KCET
(323) 953-5308


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