Archive for December, 2009

Countdown to 2010

Celebrate the New Year with KET

Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2009

Georges PretreKET rings in the New Year with the New York Philharmonic, followed by a lavish holiday celebration from Vienna.

First, The New York Philharmonic’s New Year’s Eve gala celebrates all-American favorites with music from Gershwin, Copland, and Broadway. This glamorous evening features Gershwin’s beloved “An American in Paris,” Copland’s “Appalachian Spring Suite” and “Old American Songs,” and selections from Broadway musicals.

Live from Lincoln Center “New York Philharmonic New Year’s Eve: Hampson, Gershwin, Copland & Broadway,” hosted by Alec Baldwin, airs Thursday, Dec. 31 at 9/8 p.m. CT on KET.

Then, stage, screen, and recording legend Julie Andrews welcomes the New Year as she hosts Great Performances “From Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration 2010,” airing Friday, Jan. 1 at 9/8 p.m. CT on KET. Joining her for the annual Vienna Philharmonic holiday extravaganza is celebrated conductor Georges Prêtre, who will lead the orchestra in a sparkling program of Strauss Family waltzes, marches, and polkas. Also, dance sequences are performed live on location at Vienna’s magnificent art history museum by members of the Vienna State Opera and Volksopera ballet.

Darwin detective story

Nova explores nature’s secrets

Monday, Dec. 28, 2009

NovaEarth teems with a staggering variety of animals, including 9,000 kinds of birds, 28,000 types of fish, and more than 350,000 species of beetles. What explains this explosion of living creatures — 1.4 million different species discovered so far, with perhaps another 50 million to go? Charles Darwin’s revolutionary idea of natural selection, which helps explain the gradual development of life on Earth, raises as many questions as it answers.

Now, on the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, Nova reveals answers to the riddles that Darwin couldn’t explain on “What Darwin Never Knew,” airing Tuesday, Dec. 29 at 8/7 p.m. CT on KET. Stunning breakthroughs in a brand-new science — nicknamed “evo devo”— are linking the enigma of origins to another of nature’s great mysteries, the development of an embryo. To explore this exciting new idea, Nova takes viewers on a journey from the Galapagos Islands to the Arctic, and from the Cambrian explosion of animal forms half a billion years ago to the research labs of today. Here scientists are finally beginning to crack nature’s biggest secrets at the genetic level. And, as Nova shows in this absorbing detective story, the results are exposing clues to life’s breathtaking diversity in ways Darwin could scarcely have imagined.

Little Women, big story

American Masters profiles Louisa May Alcott

Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2009

American Masters: Louisa May AlcottThe author of Little Women is an almost universally recognized name. Her reputation as a morally upstanding New England spinster, reflecting the conventional propriety of mid-19th-century Concord, is firmly established. However, raised among reformers, Transcendentalists, and skeptics, the intellectual protégé of Emerson, Hawthorne, and Thoreau, Alcott was actually a free thinker with democratic ideals and progressive values about women — a worldly careerist of sorts. Most surprising is that she led, under the pseudonym A.M. Barnard, a literary double life, undiscovered until the 1940s. As Barnard, Alcott penned scandalous, sensational works with characters running the gamut from murderers and revolutionaries to cross-dressers and opium addicts — a far cry from her familiar fatherly mentors, courageous mothers, and appropriately impish children.

Combining elements of documentary, drama, and animation, “Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women” airs Monday, Dec. 28 at 9/8 p.m. CT on KET and Sunday, Jan. 3 at 9/8 p.m. CT on KET2. The dialogue is taken exclusively from writings or firsthand reports of conversations. The program was recorded in original locations, including Orchard House, the Alcott family home in Concord; Emerson’s house in Concord; and Fruitlands in Harvard, site of the Alcotts’ utopian experiment. Interwoven with dramatic scenes are interviews with several Alcott scholars and novelist Geraldine Brooks.

“Louisa May Alcott is best known as a children’s author, yet her own life was much harder than Little Women would suggest,” says Susan Lacy, executive producer of American Masters. “Before Alcott became the J.K. Rowling of her time, she worked as a servant, a seamstress, and Civil War nurse. She grew up in the thick of the abolition and women’s suffrage movements (once signing herself “Yours for reform of all kinds”) and lifted her family from dire poverty to great wealth.”

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