CPB Media Room

New Public Television Projects Reveal Different Perspectives of Life in America Today

  • For Immediate Release on June 25, 2002

WASHINGTON, DC, June 25, 2002 - Muhammad's influence on the lives of millions of Muslims today, and a humorous look at how life changes when a first-generation Indian-American becomes a bachelor are among the subjects of five new projects to be funded through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's Diversity Fund, the Corporation announced today.

The documentary and drama projects, now in development, have received grants totaling nearly $1.2 million from the fund, which supports programs about and of interest to America's changing population. The projects, selected for the timeliness of their topics and their broad audience appeal, will be available to public television stations starting in August 2002. "CPB's Diversity Fund is creating a biography of American culture and society in the 21st century," said CPB President and CEO Robert T. Coonrod. "Through these projects we hope to bring new audiences, new talent and new perspectives to public broadcasting."

A complete list of grantees, selected from among 80 proposals for funding, follows:

Stand Up (Four Winds Productions and KCET, Los Angeles, CA, producer Kyra Thompson) This 90-minute special centers around a diverse group of inner-city youth from Los Angeles who use stand-up comedy to turn anger, frustration and disappointment into sharp, revealing wit. Thompson has produced numerous long-form, news documentaries for CNN.

Poof (Kentucky Educational Television, Lexington, KY and Fred Barzyk) This 60-minute drama, adapted from a short play by award-winning, African American playwright Lynn Nottage, explores domestic violence in a contemporary American setting. It is Nottage's first work for public broadcasting.

Cosmopolitan (Jason Orans/Gigantic Pictures, LLC. and KTEH TV, San Jose, CA) This 60-minute drama tells the story of Gopal, a first generation Indian-American who tries to reinvent himself as an American bachelor after his wife leaves the marriage, taking their daughter with her. Sabrina Dhawan, who wrote "Monsoon Wedding," will write the screenplay adaptation of Akhil Sharma's original story. Nisha Ganatra will direct.

Muhammad (Kikim Media, San Francisco, CA and Unity Productions Foundation, Silver Spring, MD, produced by award-winning independent producer Michael Schwarz) This two-hour documentary explores how the prophet Muhammad's early 7th century teachings transformed the world and continues to shape the lives of 1.9 billion Muslims today. Told in Muhammad's own words and through those of his companions, the documentary is presented through the experiences of a diverse group of contemporary American scholars, artists, musicians, and social activists and others for whom he remains a living presence. Karen Armstrong, a non-Muslim whose book on Islam is a New York Time's best seller, will be a featured expert.

Color TV (A joint project of the National Minority Consortia, whose members include the National Asian American Telecommunications Association, National Black Programming Consortium, Native American Public Telecommunications, Pacific Islanders in Communications and Latino Public Broadcasting) This six-part limited anthology series, to be piloted in 2003, is made up of works by Asian American, Pacific Islander, Native American, Latino and African American filmmakers and television producers. Each episode will be one hour. Color TV, the Consortia's second joint project, has been in development for a year and a half. Marc Henry Johnson is the series Executive Producer. He produced the Peabody Award-wining A Huey P. Newton Story, which was directed by Spike Lee.

The Diversity Fund is part of CPB's "I, too, am America" Initiative, a multi-faceted funding plan supporting inclusive, multicultural content and services across multiple media platforms. CPB funded 12 Diversity Fund projects in December 2001.

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