Review: ‘The Windermere Children,’ starring Thomas Kretschmann, Romola Garai, Tim McInnerny, Iain Glen, Tomasz Studzinski and Kacper Swietek

April 6, 2020

by Carla Hay

“The Windermere Children,” pictured from left to right: Anna Maciejewska, Tomasz Studzinski, Lukasz Zieba, Kuba Sprenger, Marek Wrobelewski, Jakub Jankiewicz, Pascal Fischer and Kacper Swietek (Photo courtesy of PBS)

“The Windermere Children”

Directed by Michael Samuels 

Culture Representation: Taking place in 1945, shortly near the end of World War II, the drama “The Windermere Children” is based on a true story of how a group of Jewish orphans who survived the Holocaust are brought to a group home in England to start new lives.

Culture Clash: The orphans experience difficult recoveries from their trauma, as well as anti-Semitism from some of the local residents.

Culture Audience: “The Windermere Children” will appeal mostly to people who are interested in stories about orphans or Holocaust survivors.

Thomas Kretschmann (standing) in “The Windermere Children” (Photo courtesy of PBS)

Most stories about Holocaust survivors tend to be about what their lives are like years after World War II ended. But the dramatic film “The Windermere Children” (which is inspired by true events) tells the story of what happened in August 1945, shortly near the official end of World War II, when a group of about 300 Jewish orphans were brought from continental Europe (many were from Poland) to an estate in England as refugees. Because almost all of the children did not have relatives to claim them, the orphans had to start new lives in England.

Almost all of the children survived concentration camps and are going through severe trauma. They arrive by bus to Calgarth Estate, which is located by Lake Windermere. The estate has been turned into a group home for the children, whose transition and rehabilitation will be aided by a group of counselors and volunteers. Leading this group is German psychologist Oscar Friedmann (played by Thomas Kretschmann), whose specialty is child psychology.

Other people who are part of the team are athletic coach Jock Lawrence (played by Ian Glen); art therapist Marie Paneth (Romola Garai); philanthropist Leonard Montefiore (Tim McInnerny); and married couple Georg Lauer (played by Philipp Christopher) and Edith Lauer (Anna Schumacher). Friedmann used to run an institution for troubled boys in Germany, but nothing quite prepares him for what he will experience with these orphans.

“The Windemere Children” (Michael Samuels and written by Simon Block) shows the somewhat chaotic and anxiety-filled arrival of the children by bus (one boy vomits on Mr. Montefiore as soon as he’s greeted by Montefiore), but then the teenagers who will be the main orphan characters in the story start to come into focus. (The ones who get the most screen time and backstories are the boys.)

Arek Hershlikovicz (played by Tomasz Studzinski) is a lanky, pimple-faced rebel. He shows an early romantic interest in Sala (played by Anna Maciejewska), who becomes his girlfriend. Icek “Ike” Alterman (played by Kuba Sprenger) is a bit of a charming flirt, and he finds out soon upon arriving that he’s attracted to an English girl. Schmuel “Sam” Laskier (played by Marek Wrobelewski) is a sorrowful loner. Ben Helfgott (played by Pascal Fischer) is a superb athlete, who quickly becomes a favorite Coach Lawrence.

Chaim Olmer (played by Kacper Swietek) had assumed the identity of a boy named Ephraim Minsburg in order to survive, and the alias has stuck, but Chaim now wants to be known by his real name so that his sister can find him. Salek Falinower (played by Jakub Jankiewicz) is another loner, and he’s more likely than Sam to separate himself from the rest of the group. (He has to be gently coaxed by Friedmann to get out of the bus.) Salek is convinced that he will be reunited with his missing brother Chiel someday, even though everyone keeps telling him that there’s almost no chance that Chiel has survived.

Because most of the children have been through the trauma of concentration camps, their healing and rehabilitation are emotionally tough on them. The younger children who lived out on the streets are inseparable. During a walk in the woods, they are terrified by the presence of a small dog being walked by a local woman. The children run off and hide and have to be searched for by a counselor.

Another scene in the movie shows how something as simple as putting bread on the tables in the dining hall can spark a feeding frenzy, as the children grab the bread and run to their rooms to either eat the bread quickly or hide it from others. Eventually, the children learn that food at the orphanage is plentiful and they don’t have to act like paranoid scavengers and hoarders in order to get a meal.

Medical exams are also filled with anxiety and sometimes bad news. Many of the children are malnourished and recovering from physical abuse, such as beatings, whippings and burns. It’s not uncommon for them to have missing or decaying teeth. And the children also have to de-loused. The clothes they arrived in are also burned, which is also a symbol of them getting rid of them leaving their previous lives behind.

It’s while the children are being de-loused outdoors that they have an unpleasant encounter with some of the local residents. A group of boys who are in the same age group watch from afar and try to taunt them. Arek sees that the local boys’ reactions are out of fear and ignorance, so he approaches them, covered in de-lousing powder and extends his hand as if to give a handshake. One of the taunting boys tentatively takes Arek’s hand, but instead of shaking the hand, Arek pulls the terrified boy into the de-lousing shed. The other local boys run off and leave their bicycles behind, which some of the orphans gleefully steal.

Stealing becomes a habit for some of the orphans, and they are lectured not to do it by their elders at the orphanage. Meanwhile, the orphans are taught English and are encouraged by Ms. Paneth to paint their inner thoughts, without instruction rules or judgment on technique. It’s welcome therapy for many of the children, but one disturbing portrait by a child brings the art teacher to tears. And, as the movie shows, the children have constant nightmares and can be heard screaming and sobbing throughout the night.

During a trip to a local ice-cream parlor, the kids experience more anti-Semitism when the same group of boys who previously tried to taunt them show up at near the shop and give a Nazi salute, Friedmann than shames the boys by telling them that these children’s families were slaughtered. The boys sheepishly walk away, but the Jewish orphans see that anti-Semitism is everywhere, even in a country that fought against the Nazis in World War II.

Meanwhile, Coach Lawrence, a Scotsman who oversees the boys’ soccer playing, tries to toughen them up by telling them that people in the “real world” won’t care about them being Jewish refugees and they can’t use it as an excuse to get special treatment. Privately, Lawrence tells Friedmann that it might be time to start placing the kids into foster homes, in order to improve the strained relations between the locals and the refugees. Some of the locals are very open about their resentment that the estate land and taxpayer money are helping fund the refugees at the group home.

The most devastating part of the movie is when the Red Cross arrives to bring news about the orphans’ families. Most of the children had been holding out glimmers of hope that someone in their family would still be alive. But the news is as bad as expected. Arek is so emotionally wounded to find out that his entire family has been murdered the he verbally lashes out at Donna, and it puts an enormous strain on their relationship. There is a bright spot toward the end of the movie, which won’t be revealed in this review, but it’s enough to say that this happy moment is a testament to the power of hope.

The epilogue of the film takes a similar approach to what “Schindler’s List” did at the end: It shows some of the real-life  survivors returning to the place depicted in the movie, along with flashbacks to the actors who portrayed them in the movie. The real-life Windermere children who give comments at the end of the film are Arek Hersh (who changed his last name from Hershlikovicz), Chaim “Harry” Olmer, Ben Helfgott and Schmuel “Sam” Laskier and Icek “Ike” Alterman.

“The Windermere Children” is an emotionally powerful film (although by no means as harrowing and masterfully made as “Schindler’s List”) that tells an important part of the Holocaust refugee story. The film’s cast members give solid performances, but the movie is heavily slanted toward the male perspective of these children’s experiences, while the female perspective isn’t given as much importance. There’s a one-hour documentary called “The Windermere Children: In Their Own Words,” which is worth watching for a more balanced gender representation and for more testimonials from the survivors. The documentary is a great complement to this dramatic film’s version of their story.

PBS had the U.S. TV premiere of “The Windermere Children” on April 5, 2020. BBC Two had movie’s U.K. TV premiere on January 27, 2020.

Review: ‘The Rescue List,’ starring Stephen Kwame Addo, Peter Samuel, Edem Akpalu and Teye Adi

March 23, 2020

by Carla Hay

Stephen Kwame Addo in “The Rescue List” (Photo courtesy of Collective Hunch)

“The Rescue List”

Directed by Alyssa Fedele and Zachary Fink

Twi, Fante, Ewe, Ga, Ada and Efutu with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in the area around Ghana’s Lake Volta and featuring an all-African cast, the documentary “The Rescue List” follows a grass-roots group of child-welfare advocates and the children they’ve rescued from modern-day slavery.

Culture Clash: The group faces opposition from the slave masters and has an overwhelming task of rescuing thousands of child slaves in the area, as well as rehabilitating them.

Culture Audience: This compelling movie will appeal primarily to people who have an interest in issues about human rights and social justice, but the disturbing subject matter might make it difficult for some people to watch.

Peter Samuel (front row center) and Edem Akpalu (front row, far right) in “The Rescue List” (Photo courtesy of Collective Hunch)

Slavery and human trafficking are tragically still happening in the everyday lives of an untold number of people around the world. The emotionally raw but ultimately inspiring documentary “The Rescue List” takes an unwavering, up-close look at a grassroots group in Ghana called Challenging Heights that runs a children’s shelter, rescues children from slavery, rehabilitates them, educates them, and then places the kids into homes that pledge to keep the children safe.

Challenging Heights, which is not funded by the government, includes rescue-group leader Stephen Kwame Addo, who used to be a child slave until he escaped, found a safe place to live, and got an education. Challenging Heights also includes social workers Bernice Jaama Akromah and Peter Kwesi Smyth, who help the kids recover from their trauma with therapy. The children who leave the shelter for permanent homes get follow-up monitoring for two years by the group’s social workers.

According to some sobering history and statistics presented in the film: “In 1965, foreign mining companies built a hydroelectric dam on Ghana’s Volta River, creating the largest man-made lake on Earth. Traffickers began to pay families facing extreme poverty to send their children to the lake for short-term work. But the children often disappear. There are now an estimated 20,000 children enslaved to fishermen in remote regions of Lake Volta.”

In addition to suffering abuse, children who’ve become fishermen’s slaves often get trapped with fishing nets and die. And, of course, many of these children are prevented from going to school because they spend most of their waking hours doing slave work.

“The Rescue List” focuses on three of the boys who’ve been rescued: Peter Samuel, who was 17 at the time the documentary was filmed; Edem Akpalu, who was 12 during filming of the movie; and Teye Adi, Peter’s best friend who was 14. At the beginning of the movie, Peter and Edem have already been in the shelter (their rescues are not part of the movie), while Teye’s rescue is shown in the documentary.

In addition to being a rescuer, Addo (who goes by his middle name Kwame) is a de facto private investigator. He and his team spend an untold number of hours finding the necessary information to put on their “rescue list,” which includes the names and locations of suspected slave masters and the children who are enslaved. Addo describes his mission to rescue child slaves as “a calling.”

The movie shows Addo scouring Lake Volta for children to rescue, and it’s clear why he is often successful at his mission: He approaches children who appear to be fisherman slaves with a calm and friendly demeanor that allows them to trust him in a short period of time. Because many of the children are brainwashed into thinking that rescuers will harm them, he immediately assures them that he’s taking them to a safe place where they won’t have to spend long hours fishing anymore. Most are happy to be rescued, but one boy in the film is terrified, and tries to swim away when Addo approaches him and offers him an escape from his life of misery. (The boy eventually goes with Addo and his team.)

Peter and Edem have a story that is common with these children who are sold into slavery. Their mothers were the ones who let them be trafficked, and their slave masters often abuse and starve the kids to do what they want. Peter is a friendly kid but his rescuers notice that he’s distressed because being rescued meant that he had to leave his best friend Teye behind. Peter feels guilty about it and asks the group to rescue Teye.

Meanwhile, Edem, who is shy and insecure, is dealing with the trauma of losing his best friend Steven in a drowning accident. In therapy sessions, Edem describes Steven as someone who supervised him and was a protector who never abused him. During an especially poignant scene, two of the social workers take Edem to the beach and tell him to say a prayer and talk to Steven. Edem’s soul-baring prayer might bring tears to some people’s eyes.

The rescue of Teye is tense, but not violent. It resembles the negotiation of a hostage release. As Teye leaves with Addo, a woman shouts from a nearby house, “My investment is lost!” Teye’s reunion with Peter is one of the most heart-warming moments of the film.

But even after they’ve been rescued, the children still experience a lot of anxiety, because many face an uncertain future, especially if no family members claim them. Peter and Edem do have family members (including their mothers) who come to visit them in the shelters and want to take them home. The movie doesn’t judge Peter’s and Edem’s mothers for essentially selling their children into slavery.

But “The Rescue List” does show the very real emotional damage that these decisions caused, as now the mothers and children are virtual strangers. It’s clear from the guilty and tearful reactions of the mothers that coming home for these boys will not be an easy emotional journey. Although it’s never openly discussed in the documentary, they will all have to come to terms with what whatever they feel about forgiveness and emotional healing. Peter is old enough to decide if he wants to live with his mother or with a village elder who has offered to raise Peter. The documentary shows his decision.

Not all of this documentary is depressing. The shelter’s children (who are almost all boys) are shown to be well-adjusted to their surroundings. And they have a camaraderie that’s evident when they play soccer or when they gather in recreation room to watch TV or a movie. (One of the movies they watch with fascination is “The Gods Must Be Crazy,” the 1980 South African comedy about how the discovery of Coca-Cola bottle set off a chain of events for an African tribe.)

“The Rescue List” directors Alyssa Fedele and Zachary Fink take an observational yet empathetic approach to their subjects by allowing them to tell their stories without the annoying interference of voiceovers or talking heads. Although it’s certainly a relief that these children have been rescued, the movie doesn’t least viewers forget that not everyone is that fortunate and there will always be a need for groups like Challenging Heights.

PBS premiered “The Rescue List” on its “POV” series and on on March 23, 2020.

2019 Tribeca Film Festival movie review: ‘Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation’

April 30, 2019

by Carla Hay

“Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation” (Photo by Elliot Landy/The Image Works)

“Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation”

Directed by Barak Goodman

World premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City on April 28, 2019.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the legendary 1969 Woodstock Music Festival, PBS commissioned a documentary about the event, which is often credited as being the most influential concert festival in history. Emmy-winning director Ken Burns was announced as the documentary’s director, but he left the project. The documentary ended up in the very capable hands of director Barak Goodman, whose credits include the Oscar-nominated documentary “Scottsboro: An American Tragedy” and the gerrymandering documentary “Slay the Dragon,” which had its world premiere at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival.

Of course, this PBS “Woodstock” documentary and any other movie about Woodstock will be overshadowed by director Michael Wadleigh’s Oscar-winning 1970 “Woodstock” documentary epic, which is still considered the definitive chronicle of the event. However, Goodman’s “Woodstock” (which has plenty of concert footage from the festival) stands as a solid companion piece. Whereas the original “Woodstock” movie was essentially a concert film, this PBS “Woodstock” documentary attempts to fill in a lot of the behind-the-scenes blanks, much like bonus commentary does on a home-video release.

There has been so much that’s already been written, said and reported about the original Woodstock Music Festival that there is not much new information to uncover. The festival—which took place August 15 to August 18, 1969, in Bethel, New York—was billed as “An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music.” (The concert ended up extending into the morning hours of a fourth day.) The lineup was a who’s who of many of the biggest names in music in the late 1960s, including Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Santana, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Joe Cocker, the Grateful Dead, Joan Baez, Creedence Clearwater Revival (who were not in the original “Woodstock” documentary), Sly & the Family Stone and Crosby, Stills & Nash. The concert was originally expected to attract about 50,000 people. Instead, approximately 400,000 people showed up and made it an unprecedented cultural event, despite the overcrowding, food shortages, drug-induced freakouts, downpours of rain, safety issues and the underlying threat that the government might shut down the concert.

“Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation” takes a chronological look at the challenges and problems that the festival encountered, told mostly from the perspective of the festival’s organizers and attendees. There are only a handful of artists (including David Crosby and Richie Havens) interviewed for this documentary. All of the new interviews for the movie are voiceovers, which was a wise artistic choice, since video cutaways to talking-head commentators would just distract from the movie’s intentions of transporting viewers back to the Woodstock Festival.

The four people who are given the most credit for being the founders of the Woodstock Festival are John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, Artie Kornfeld and Michael Lang. Roberts (an heir to the Poligrip/Polident fortune) and Rosenman were the producers who put up the money for the event. It was through Roberts and Rosenman’s New York-based Media Sound company that they met Kornfeld and Lang, who both came from music backgrounds. Lang was the only one at the time who had experience as a concert promoter. All of them are interviewed for the documentary, as are other key members of the original Woodstock team, such as director of operations Mel Lawrence and Stan Goldstein, a campground coordinator who researched portable toilet needs for the event.

The opening-day party for Media Sound morphed into the idea of putting on an all-star outdoor festival named Woodstock, much like the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival in California. The city of Woodstock in upstate New York wasn’t actually available, but the idea was to have the festival in a sprawling area in the region, since the urban density of New York City wasn’t an option. Lang was adamant about having the festival in a grassy area, not at a raceway.

The Woodstock promoters originally chose Wallkill, New York, for the concert site. But when Wallkill’s city officials realized that their city would be overrun with hundreds of thousands of hippies and other counter-culture people, they voted in an ordinance to prevent gatherings of more than 5,000 people, thereby canceling Woodstock’s permit. Fortunately, an unexpected hero stepped in to save the festival: a conservative Republican named Max Yasgur, who donated his farm in Bethel for the concert site. Within two days, the city of Bethel approved the permit, and Woodstock was revived, but the festival had to scramble to create the stages and other infrastructure in time for the event. They didn’t have enough time to do a thorough job, and many aspects of the festival’s production were incomplete by the time the festival began. It’s repeated many times in the documentary that Woodstock was under-staffed and under-stocked. Needless to say, because most of the overcrowded festival’s attendees got in for free, Woodstock’s investors lost a lot of money because of this event.

Ironically, Lang’s Woodstock Ventures faced similar financial and legal issues for its Woodstock 50 concert, which had been announced to take place in Watkins Glen, New York, from August 16 to August 18, 2019. At the time of this writing, Woodstock 50’s main investor pulled out (citing concerns about overcrowding and safety), a permit for the festival hasn’t been issued, and tickets haven’t even gone on sale. The concert industry is very different today than it was in 1969, so there probably isn’t enough time to clear all the legal hurdles that Woodstock 50 is facing in order for this 50th anniversary concert to happen.

One of the best things about this PBS “Woodstock” documentary is that it really shines a spotlight on many of the unsung heroes who worked behind the scenes at the original Woodstock Festival—the people who slogged through it from beginning to end. The artists on stage got most of the glory, and most of the celebrities didn’t mingle with the (sometimes literally unwashed) masses in the crowds. The big stars who attended Woodstock also had the luxury of leaving behind the messiness of Woodstock by helicopter, since the festival had traffic jams and roadblocks during the entire event.

Food for Love was a three-person operation that made a huge but underrated difference at Woodstock. The group was hired on relatively short notice, because the original food contractor for Woodstock backed out of the event after Wallkill canceled the festival’s permit. When the food supply at the festival began to run dangerously low, Food for Love, with the help of numerous volunteers, stepped in to help feed people and even gave away a lot of food for free—something that would be unheard of in today’s over-priced festival environment. (According to the documentary, a lot of people “paid” for the free food by giving marijuana joints to the people handing out the food.) Yasgur, who died in 1973 at the age of 53, also provided a lot of the free food from his farm, which inevitably became a garbage-filled disaster area after the festival was over. Milk, oats and rice became welcomed and common nourishment at the festival.

The documentary interviews hippie icon Wavy Gravy, who stepped in to emcee at Woodstock and brought his Hog Farm community to the festival as unofficial security. The Hog Farm called themselves a “please force” instead of a “police force.” Wavy Gravy and the Hog Farm were instrumental in keeping the crowds calmer than they could have been, given the high levels of drug use at the concert. Speaking of drug use at Woodstock, the documentary mentions that the festival was perhaps the first major concert event to have a massive amount of “freak-out” tents, where people tripping out on drugs could go to ride out their experiences. The tents were a necessity, given that medical assistance was also in short supply.

Another aspect of the festival that would be unthinkable today was the lack of adequate communication coming in and out of the festival. Because Woodstock happened decades before smartphones and the Internet existed, the festival had to make news announcements on stage, since most attendees did not have on-site access to radios, TV and newspapers. In addition, announcements were made on stage for festival attendees to contact frantic loved ones or friends who were looking for them. At the festival’s information center, attendees had to pin notes on the walls to get messages to other attendees. It’s hard to imagine today’s generation of young concertgoers being able to cope with these conditions.

Through testimonials of several attendees, the documentary de-mystifies the image of Woodstock being a blissful “peace and love” party. Yes, there were numerous people who had a good time and have fond memories of Woodstock, even if many of those memories were clouded by whatever drugs they were on at the time. But partying at Woodstock wasn’t the whole story. The reality was that most of the attendees had inadequate food and shelter, and things got worse when the festival was hit with rainstorms that caused a lot of disgusting mud. The rain could have caused electrocutions on stage, but fortunately did not.

In addition, government helicopters were constantly hovering, as if ready to step in and treat the festival like a war zone. Nelson Rockefeller, the governor of New York state at the time, kept threatening to send in the National Guard. Speaking of war, the documentary mentions that many of the male attendees of Woodstock were afraid of being drafted into the Vietnam War, so the hovering military helicopters that caused a lot of noise and discomfort probably didn’t help their nerves.

Of course, the best part of the festival that gets the most recognition and the highest praise is the music. The artists who are mentioned the most as being standout acts at Woodstock were Hendrix, Sly & the Family Stone, The Who, Crosby Stills & Nash (who did their second public performance as a group at Woodstock) and Santana. In the documentary, Woodstock Festival opener Havens remembers that he didn’t want to be Woodstock’s first performer on stage, because the concert started late, and he thought the crowd would be angry. (He ended up getting a standing ovation.)

Although this “Woodstock” documentary could have used more artist interviews, they might have overshadowed the testimonials of the non-famous people in this documentary who spent a lot more time at Woodstock than the artists did. In the end, “Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation” is a deeper dive into the harsh realities behind the festival. The documentary may not have a lot of new information, but it’s recommended viewing for people who want more of the real story of what happened behind the scenes.

PBS/American Experience Films will releaseWoodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation” in New York City on May 24, 2019, and will expand the release to more U.S. cities on June 7, 2019. PBS will premiere “Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation” as part of the PBS “American Experience” series on August 6, 2019.

PBS Kids launches ‘Ocean Friends Forever’ with ‘Splash and Bubbles’ series to celebrate World Oceans Day

June 5, 2017

The following is a press release from the Jim Henson Company:

(Photo courtesy of the Jim Henson Company)

The Jim Henson Company, Herschend Studios and PBS Kids are kicking off “Ocean Friends Forever,” a social media and community engagement initiative with multiple PBS station events across the country the week of June 1-8, to coincide with the internationally celebrated World Oceans Day on June 8. The effort is themed around the new PBS Kids series “Splash and Bubbles,” which encourages children to explore ocean science and marine biology. “Splash and Bubbles” airs daily on PBS stations nationwide and is available for free on PBS Kids digital platforms.

Awareness of the ocean and its diverse inhabitants continues to be an important necessity for us all. Few people realize how much we have left to discover about the animals, plants and unique habitats under the sea. In fact, a recent online omnibus study* of 1,000 adults provided some surprising results. Over thirty-seven percent of respondents believed that more than half of the world’s ocean has been explored, but scientists and researchers estimate that only 5 percent of the ocean has been explored! When asked if they know where most of the white sand on the world’s beaches comes from, only 6 percent of respondents knew the surprising fact: parrotfish poop. Parrotfish ingest dead coral and break it down into sand, which they then excrete. (Nearly two-thirds of respondents thought that white sand beaches are mostly comprised of rocks. Thirty percent answered glass.)

PBS stations across the country are gearing up to educate their community about the vast underwater world, with “Ocean Friends Forever” activities and materials for their summer events including screenings, activity pages, hands-on investigations, Splash and Bubble character appearances and more! Activity pages and hands on investigations are also available on PBS Parents/SplashandBubbles.

Event Dates:


Birch Aquarium at Scripps (KPBS – San Diego)


WFSU Studio (WFSU – Tallahassee)            


WFSU Studio (WFSU – Tallahassee)                           


NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher/Kure Beach, NC (UNCTV – Raleigh/Durham             


Challenger Learning Center (WFSU – Tallahassee)


Columbus Zoo and Aquarium (WOSU – Columbus)


Bayou County Children’s Museum (LPB – Louisiana)


Children’s Museum of Acadiana (LPB – Louisiana)


Children’s Museum of Lake Charles (LPB – Louisiana)


Louisiana Children’s Museum (LPB – Louisiana)


Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (WHUT – Washington D.C.)    


Webster Public Library (WXXI – Rochester)


Charlotte Library Branch (WXXI – Rochester)

Additionally, “Help Our Kelp,” a new digital game at, will encourage kids to help a kelp forest stay healthy by cleaning invasive species, like sea urchins and clams, from the environment. The game will be available online and on the free PBS Kids Games app later this week.

PBS Kids series “Splash and Bubbles” encourages children to explore the natural undersea world and features endearing and humorous characters on fun-filled adventures. Utilizing the dynamic CG animation technology of the Henson Digital Puppetry Studio, each episode introduces kids ages 4–7 to the adventures of its title characters – Splash, a yellowback fusilier fish, and his friend Bubbles, a Mandarin dragonet.  Splash migrated all over the ocean before settling down with his family in Reeftown.  Now, he and Bubbles explore the world’s ocean, meet wildly diverse marine animals and discover otherworldly undersea habitats with their friends Dunk (a pufferfish) and Ripple (a seahorse). Together, they bring back what they’ve learned to share with their neighbors.

“Splash and Bubbles” is a production of The Jim Henson Company and Herschend Studios. The series is executive produced by Lisa Henson and Halle Stanford of The Jim Henson Company, Julie Phillips and Merrill Puckett-Miller of Herschend Enterprises, as well as John Tartaglia, Michael Shawn Lewis and Jill Shinderman. The series is funded in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

PBS ‘Chefs Flight’ spotlight in ‘American Masters’ includes documentaries on James Beard and Jacques Pépin

April 13, 2017

by Carla Hay

PBS is launching “Chefs Flight”as part of the network’s “American Masters” series that will include new documentaries on culinary icons James Beard and Jacques Pépin.

“James Beard: America’s First Foodie” premieres in most market on May 19, 2017, at 9 p.m. Eastern Time. (Check local listings.) The program chronicles a century of food through the story of Beard (1903-1985), who was a pioneer celebrity chef and author. Immediately after the Beard documentary, PBS will televise a rebroadcast of “American Masters – Julia! America’s Favorite Chef” at 10 p.m. ET.

Meanwhile, “Jacques Pépin: The Art of Craft” (narrated by Stanley Tucci) premieres in most markets on May 26 at 9 p.m. Eastern Time. (Check local listings.) Immediately after the Pépin documentary, PBS will have an encore presentation of “American Masters – Alice Waters and her Delicious Revolution” at 10 p.m. ET.

According to a PBS press release: Among the many highlights in the Beard documentary are Daniel Boulud and restaurant critic Gael Greene telling how Beard helped start Citymeals on Wheels; Jacques Pépin reminiscing about cooking with Beard; Martha Stewart sharing how Beard’s cookbooks influenced her; Ted Allen disclosing Beard’s challenges being an “out” gay man at a time when same-sex sexual activity was illegal; chefs Jonathan Waxman and Larry Forgione reflecting on Beard’s mentorship and its impact on their career; Wolfgang Puck recounting how he helped found the James Beard Foundation; Alice Waters explaining how Beard discovered Chez Panisee; chef Jeremiah Tower offering insight into Beard’s relationship with Marion Cunningham; chef Naomi Pomery demonstrating how to make the famous “James Beard’s Onion Sandwich”; and next generation chefs such as Marc Forgione, Greg Higgins, and Pomeroy discussing how Beard’s influence is still felt today. James Beard Award Foundation president Susan Ungaro and executive vice president Mitchell Davis also appear in the documentary.

Dubbed the “Dean of American Cookery” by The New York Times, Beard … spoke of the importance of localism and sustainability long before those terms had entered the culinary vernacular. He was a forerunner of the farm-to-table movement and helped create the iconic Four Seasons concept and menu. He was the first chef to host his own television show, “I Love to Eat,” which debuted on NBC in 1946, and taught not only women but men how to cook. He also had a cooking school that he operated out of his New York apartment.

Beard authored 22 cookbooks, penned a syndicated newspaper column and wrote countless magazine articles. He is credited with introducing Julia Child to the New York culinary scene, and he later becoming a best friend to her.

The James Beard Awards Gala and Reception are considered the “Oscars” of the food-service industry. The 2017 ceremony will take place  May 1 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Jesse Tyler Ferguson is hosting the show. The complete list of nominations are here.