|Bay Window : With Eyes Open: Press Release
PBS SERIES ASKS VIEWERS TO FACE DYING
"WITH EYES OPEN"
Four Half-Hour Episodes from KQED San Francisco Spark Conversations
After Bill Moyers' PBS Series, "On Our Own Terms"
San Francisco, CAFor millions of Americans, watching the PBS mini-series On Our Own Terms: Moyers on Dying will be an emotional experience. The series asks viewers to confront the end of life–theirs and their loved ones–and to consider what experiences they want when they are dying. On the heels of each 90-minute On Our Own Terms episode, PBS will air a 30-minute companion program to spark conversations on dying among families and individuals nationwide. With Eyes Open will be broadcast nationally September 10-13 at 10:30 p.m. on PBS (check local listings).
With an introduction by Bill Moyers and hosted by Ray Suarez of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, With Eyes Open models the kind of exchanges Bill Moyers hopes will occur in living rooms across the country–direct, honest and caring. This series features frank dialogues between real people, sharing everyday wisdom about dying. With Eyes Open poses questions to its audience, such as: what helps when you are grieving? What do you want at the end of life? Who will make the decisions at your end of life? Death may not be the end, but a new beginning–but of what?
Joining Suarez to answer these questions on each episode are medical professionals, educators and advocates, ranging from spiritual leaders to bioethicists, who specialize in working with people on end-of-life issues. Also contributing their experiences to the conversation are people who have faced or who are facing these very issues. In the opening episode, Frank Ostaseski, founder of the San Francisco Zen Hospice Project, sets the tone for the series: "In this culture we mostly see dying as a medical event. But in my experience, dying isn't primarily a medical event, it's more an issue of relationships: my relationship with myself, with those I love; my relationship with the suffering of death itself. So the work of caring for the dying is a matter of facilitating those relationships."
To encourage a continuation of these conversations beyond both sets of broadcasts, PBS has created a With Eyes Open companion Web site at pbs.org/witheyesopen. Here, viewers will find a wealth of information, including lesson plans, resources, interviews, video clips, and an online forum where people across the country can contribute their personal stories and reflections.
With Eyes Open addresses the following topics each evening following On Our Own Terms: Moyers on Dying, and each is hosted by Ray Suarez:
"Grief and Healing" (Sunday, September 10 at 10:30 p.m., check local listings) is a conversation about loss, grief and healing facilitated by Frank Ostaseski, founder of the first Buddhist hospice in America, the San Francisco Zen Hospice Project. The program challenges viewers about their fears about death, how they imagine their last moments, how they will say good-bye and how illness can be a transformative experience.
"Difficult Decisions" (Monday, September 11 at 10:30 p.m., check local listings) looks at the importance of talking about our own end-of-life issues with our families and loved ones. What would happen if you had a major stroke and ended up in an intensive care unit? Who in your family would make your medical decisions? Suarez begins the discussion with two families who have both been confronted by this scenario–one who had conversations in the advance, the other who did not.
"Caregiving" (Tuesday, September 12 at 10:30 p.m., check local listings) looks at the challenges and rewards of caregiving. Every day, some 25 million Americans provide care for someone they love who is sick or frail, ranging from taking care of an aging mother to helping a dying spouse get dressed, bathe and eat. Panelists and members of the audience, filled exclusively with caregivers, share information and advice on how to get assistance.
"Beyond Life, Beyond Death" (Wednesday, September 13 at 10:30 p.m., check local listings) asks what happens to us after we die. According to a Time poll, 81 percent of Americans believe in Heaven, when it is defined as the place "where people live forever with God after they die." The vast majority of Americans believe that death is not the end, it's a beginning. But of what? How do our beliefs in the afterlife affect the way we lead our lives? Tibetan Buddhist and scholar Robert Thurman and Rabbi David Wolpe are the featured guests.
Host Ray Suarez is a senior correspondent for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, where he conducts newsmaker interviews, studio debates, reports from the field and serves as a backup anchor. Suarez has 20 years of varied experience in the news business and came to The NewsHour from National Public Radio, where he had been host of the nationwide, call-in news program Talk of the Nation since 1993.
On Our Own Terms: Moyers on Dying presents the intimate, end-of-life journeys of more than a dozen individuals, with support from their families and caregivers, as they struggle to balance medical intervention with comfort and dignity at the end of life. Filled with honesty and humor, courage and controversy, the series breaks through the cultural denial to determine ways Americans can die on their own terms. Says Moyers, "The stories of these generous people, who let us into their lives at an extraordinarily vulnerable time, help us understand dying not as a failure, but as a natural part of life." On Our Own Terms airs nationally on PBS stations September 10-13 at 9 p.m. (check local listings). A complete Web site of the six-hour On Our Own Terms is available at pbs.org/onourownterms.
With Eyes Open continues PBS's tradition of providing programming that brings viewers insight and commentary on subjects not typically covered in the media.
With Eyes Open is underwritten by The James Irvine Foundation, the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation and PBS.
With Eyes Open is part of the Bay Window series, produced by KQED San Francisco. Peter Calabrese is vice president of television production for KQED. Executive producer for With Eyes Open is Sue Ellen McCann. Wendy Hanamura and Lisa Aliferis are producers for With Eyes Open.
Videos of With Eyes Open are available by calling 1-800-257-5126; writing P.O. Box 2053, Princeton, NJ 08543-2053; or visiting films.com
KQED operates KQED Public Television 9, the nation's most watched public television station, and Digital Television 9, Northern California's only public television digital signal; KQED Public Radio 88.5 FM, the most listened to public radio station in the nation; the KQED Education Network, which brings the impact of KQED to thousands of teachers, students, parents, and media professionals through workshops, seminars, and resources; and kqed.org, which harnesses the power of the Internet to bring KQED to communities across the Web.