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Monday, January 10, 2011


America -- Focus of New PBS Series

As anyone who’s ever flown in a commercial airplane knows, America looks very different from the skies. Plucked from their living rooms and transported above the clouds on an epic journey, viewers will discover a fascinating, new perspective on the hidden rhythms and patterns of American life in PBS’ AMERICA REVEALED. Using aerial footage, high-definition video and real-time satellite data, this new miniseries traces the movements and communications that miraculously come together to manufacture goods, transport people and materials, grow tons of food and power our increasingly tech-savvy nation. Produced by award-winning Lion Television, the series is slated to air Fall 2011 on PBS.

Technology expert and communications attorney Yul Kwon (winner of “Survivor: Cook Islands”) is the series’ adventurous guide. Over the course of four hours, Kwon jumps out of airplanes, climbs to the top of an energy tower in Montana, accompanies a Nebraska farmer on a crop harvest and rides with Las Vegas cabbies during the city’s annual cowboy convention. The result is a fresh and surprising view of how an incredibly vast and complex country like America actually works.

Based upon the BBC’s award-winning “Britain From Above,” AMERICA REVEALED shows viewers how a violent lightning storm can wreak havoc on a regional power grid, sending high-voltage surges across miles of transmission lines — even into a typical American living room — and threatening the stability of the whole grid. Archival footage and aerial images document the meteoric rise of urban centers, suburban neighborhoods and America’s interstate highway system. GPS information reveals the invisible “tracks” commercial aircraft leave as they streak across the sky, while data from the retail industry’s Radio Frequency Identification tags show how goods from a single container ship are quickly transported across the nation.

“America is a nation of intricate networks that keep the country running every minute, every hour of every day,” says Nick Catliff, executive producer and president, Lion Television. “And yet most of us probably know very little about what it really takes to deliver goods to our door, build the cars we drive, power our homes and mobile devices, and feed our families.”

Tony Tackaberry, executive producer and CEO, Lion Television, adds: “The aerial photography, along with a range of pioneering visual techniques the series will employ, will give viewers a glimpse of the nation as they’ve never seen it, while the previously untapped data will offer new insight into the forces that shape our everyday lives.”

AMERICA REVEALED is not only about the country’s physical infrastructure, however. The series also introduces the men and women whose work involves observing America from above: a crop duster who struggles to maintain pinpoint accuracy while dodging power lines and facing high winds; a power station supervisor who fights the danger of a multi-state blackout; an air traffic controller who directs planes in crowded skies; a bridge worker who braves dizzying heights to repair a failing suspension cable.

“AMERICA REVEALED will be a completely new experience for PBS viewers,” says John F. Wilson, PBS’s chief television programming executive. “This series employs an imaginative new form of storytelling, bringing visual imagery and information together to offer viewers an unprecedented way to fully explore and understand the country where we live and work.”

AMERICA REVEALED episodes include (all working titles):

• “The Great American Breadbasket”--How America keeps pace with its insatiable appetite; who decides what food is produced; and how pastures and prairies turned into the biggest food machine in the world.

• “The American Dynamo”--How America propels itself through energy, including the extraction of valuable ore and oil; the creation of electricity through water, wind and nuclear power; and the intricacies of energy distribution.

• “America in Motion”--How America moves, whether the transportation mode is a bicycle on a neighborhood sidewalk, a family car on the mammoth interstate highway system or air traffic moving above the clouds.

• “Made in America”--How American industry creates, whether it’s a simple cardboard box, a sleek new car, a jumbo jet or a tiny silicon chip, and how supply and demand, manufacturing and assembly are interconnected.

AMERICA REVEALED is a multiplatform series with extensive web, mobile and educational content. Before, during and after the broadcast, PBS viewers will be able to view and personalize extensive material from the series as well as contribute their own original content. For teachers and students, a wealth of research, graphics, videos and archives will be made available to align with the classroom curriculum.

AMERICA REVEALED is a production of Lion Television. The executive producers are Nick Catliff and Tony Tackaberry. The executive in charge of production is Ruth Johnston.