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American Experience
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Fall/Winter 2001-2002 Broadcasts
American Experience airs Sunday nights, usually at 9pm. Check local listings for specific air times in your area. You can also sign up to receive convenient broadcast reminders by e-mail.


New York -- A Documentary Film
A Special Presentation of American Experience

Airing Sunday, September 30, 2001 (2 Hrs)
Episode Six -- "City of Tomorrow" 1929-1941 traces the spectacular and often troubling changes that overtook New York from the crash of 1929 through the beginning of the Second World War. In little more than ten years, as the city and its people confronted unprecedented social and economic change, new solutions and new characters began to emerge, that in the decades to come would forever change the human and physical landscape of the city.
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Airing Monday, October 1, 2001 (2.5 Hrs)
Episode Seven -- "The City and the World" 1945 to present, chronicles the history of New York from the end of the Second World War down to the present - exploring the complexities of the post-modern city and the turbulent years of physical, social and cultural change in the decades following the war.
Web site
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War Letters
Airing Sunday, November 11, 2001 (1 hr.)

In every American war from the Revolutionary War to the Persian Gulf War, American military men and women have captured the horror, pathos and intensity of warfare by writing letters home. In an effort to preserve this correspondence, writer Andrew Carroll set up the Legacy Project five years ago and has since collected 50,000 war letters. Using the most compelling and enlightening of these missives, War Letters tells the story of American wars from the viewpoint of the men and women in the frontlines and those who waited at home. The film features breathtaking eyewitness accounts of famous battles, intimate declarations of love and longing, poignant last letters written only days or even hours before soldiers were killed, and many profound and memorable expressions of exhilaration, fear, whimsy, exasperation, anger, and patriotism. Full of poetry, compassion, humor, determination, and raw emotion, the featured letters ultimately transcend the subject of war and address some of the most powerful contradictions of the human condition.
(Produced by Robert Kenner)
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Woodrow Wilson
Airing Sundays, January 6 and 13, 2002 (3 hrs.)

He was a gifted orator who was supremely confident before crowds, yet awkward in small groups. An emotionally complex man, he craved affection and demanded unquestioned loyalty. An intellectual with unwavering moral principles, he led America onto the world stage at a time when war and chaos threatened everything he cherished. Woodrow Wilson explores the transformation of a history professor into one of America's greatest presidents. Wilson's life was shaped by great conflicts: the Civil War which he lived through as a child, and the First World War into which he reluctantly led America as president. The second conflict ultimately claimed him as a victim. While campaigning for his far-sighted League of Nations, he suffered a paralyzing stroke from which he never fully recovered. The only president incapacitated in office, Wilson carried out his duties from bed with the help of his wife Edith who became the de facto chief executive.
(Produced by Carl Byker w/KCET)
Web site (coming soon)
Mount Rushmore
Airing Sunday, January 20, 2002 (1 hr.)

High on a granite cliff in South Dakota's Black Hills tower the huge carved faces of four American presidents. Together they constitute the world's largest sculpture. The massive tableau inspires awe and bemusement. How, and when, was it carved? Who possessed the audacity to create such a gargantuan work? The story of Mount Rushmore's creation is as bizarre and wonderful as the monument itself. It is the tale of Gutzon Borglum, a hyperactive, temperamental artist whose talent and determination propelled the project, even as his ego and obsession threatened to tear it apart. It is the story of hucksterism and hyperbole, of a massive public works project in the midst of an economic depression. And it is the story of dozens of ordinary Americans who suddenly found themselves suspended high on a cliff face with drills and hammers as a sculptor they considered insane directed them in the creation of what some would call a monstrosity and others a masterpiece.
(Produced by Mark Zwonitzer)
Web site (coming soon)
John Brown's Holy War
Airing Sunday, January 27, 2002 (1.5 hrs.)

Madman, murderer, martyr, hero: John Brown remains one of history's most controversial and misunderstood figures. In the 1850s, he and his ragtag guerrilla group embarked on a righteous crusade against slavery that was born of religious conviction, yet carried out with shocking violence. His execution at Harper's Ferry, Virginia, set off a chain of events that led to the Civil War. Joe Morton narrates.
(Produced by Robert Kenner)
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Miss America
Airing Sunday, February 3, 2002 (2 hrs.)

Tracking the country's oldest beauty contest from its inception in 1921 as a local seaside pageant to its heyday as one of the country's most popular events, Miss America paints a vivid picture of an institution that has come to reveal much about a changing nation. The pageant is about commercialism and sexual politics, about big business and small towns. But beyond the symbolism lies a human story - at once moving, inspiring, infuriating, funny and poignant. Using intimate interviews with former contestants and fabulous behind-the-scenes footage and photographs, the film reveals why some women took part in the fledgling event and why others briefly shut it down, and how the pageant became a battle ground and a barometer for the changing position of women in society.
(Produced by Lisa Ades)
Web site (coming soon)
Scottsboro: An American Tragedy
Airing Sunday, February 10, 2002 (1.5 hrs.)

In 1931, two white women stepped from a box car in Paint Rock, Alabama to make a shocking accusation: they had been raped by nine black teenagers on the train. So began one of the most significant legal fights of the twentieth century. The trial of the falsely accused teens would draw North and South into their sharpest conflict since the Civil War, yield two momentous Supreme Court decisions and give birth to the civil rights movement. In addition to its historical significance, the Scottsboro story is a riveting drama about the struggles of nine innocent young men for their lives and a cautionary tale about using human beings as fodder for political causes. The documentary was a 2000 Oscar® nominee.
(Produced by Barak Goodman & Daniel Anker )
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Zoot Suit Riots
Airing Sunday, February 17, 2002 (1 hr.)

In August 1942, the murder of a young Mexican American man ignited a firestorm in Los Angeles. The tensions that had been building up for years between Mexican and white Los Angelenos boiled over. The press claimed Mexican youth-known as "zoot-suiters" for the clothes they wore-were terrorizing the city with a wave of crime. Police fanned out across Los Angeles, arresting 600 Mexican Americans. Seventeen "zoot-suiters" were put on trial for murder. Despite scant evidence, guilty verdicts were handed down to all. The tensions the trial inflamed sparked riots between servicemen and the Mexican American community that led to "zoot-suiters" being beaten and stripped of their clothes. Despite vigorous denials from city officials, a citizen's committee concluded the riots had been fired by racial prejudice and encouraged both by sensational news reporting and a discriminatory police department.
(Produced by Joseph Tovares)
Web site (coming soon)
Public Enemy #1
Airing Sunday, February 24, 2002 (1 hr.)

From 1933 to 1934, America was thrilled and terrorized by John Dillinger, a desperado, a bank robber, a bad man no jail could hold. His reputation grew until he was named the country's first Public Enemy #1 and hunted by virtually every cop in America. Operating during a time of great hardship, Dillinger became a mythic figure who struggled against authority and garnered the support of many ordinary Americans, particularly those hardest hit by the Great Depression. Dillinger finally met his match in J. Edgar Hoover, who used the outlaw's celebrity to burnish his own reputation and that of his national law enforcement agency, the FBI. Hoover won the day making sure in the process that the moral of Dillinger's tale was "crime doesn't pay."
(Produced by Ben Loeterman)
Web site (coming soon)

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