|FRONTLINE/World: Episode #101|
View Bios for Episode 101
PBS AIRDATE: Thursday, May 23, 9 P.M., 60 minutes
Two reporters travel to West Africa to investigate an international gun smuggling operation. A video journalist visits the tropical island of Sri Lanka to try to understand what motivates a suicide bomber. A young woman journeys to the Himalayas to witness how television is transforming an isolated Buddhist kingdom.
These are the stories explored in FRONTLINE/World, FRONTLINE's new regularly occurring newsmagazine premiering Thursday, May 23, at 9 P.M. on PBS (check local listings). Developed by FRONTLINE producers in conjunction with public television stations KQED San Francisco and WGBH Boston, FRONTLINE/World turns its lens on the global community, introducing viewers to countries and cultures rarely covered by the U.S. media.
"We want to take viewers on a journey of discovery," says series editor Stephen Talbot. "We will visit remote places that few of us have ever seen, and we will cover more familiar countries in unexpected ways. Our goal is to understand how the world is changing and to examine those changes from different perspectives."
FRONTLINE/World's May 23 debut is a pilot episode of the new series that will begin to appear regularly in FRONTLINE's time slot in the fall. It will break new ground for FRONTLINE, with reporters telling "short stories" as they explore foreign lands. Taking advantage of easily portable digital cameras, journalists from around the world will be able to roam widely and, when necessary, film surreptitiously.
FRONTLINE/World's premier episode features three distinct segments:
"Global Gunrunners"In the past decade, some 4 million people have been killed in war-torn Africa, where a steady infusion of guns and weapons has fueled years of bloodshed and civil war. Feeding the destruction has been the illegal international arms trade, through which everyone from organized crime figures to international entrepreneurs are getting rich selling abandoned Soviet Bloc weapons to feuding factions in Africa. In "Global Gunrunners," a co-production with The Center for Investigative Reporting, two reporters go inside the world of illegal arms trafficking, tracing several black-market shipments of assault rifles and ammunition from Eastern Europe to Sierra Leone, where they were used in a deadly assault on the nation’s capital of Freetown. The program notes that few governments, including Washington, seem to place a high priority on stopping the deadly trade in illegal weapons. "Things seem to be getting worse," says Corrine Dufka of Human Rights Watch. "The number of countries in Africa that are in conflict, the millions of people who are affected by those conflicts, and irresponsible governmentsboth in Africa as well as the international communitybear a tremendous responsibility for that."
A version of "Global Gunrunners" produced by American Radio Works, the documentary project of Minnesota Public Radio and NPR News, will air on National Public Radio's All Things Considered on Thursday, May 23rd.
"Living with Terror"For most Americans, the experience of living with the fear of a possible terrorist attack is a relatively new one. But for Sri Lankans, it's a part of everyday life. The small island nation leads the world in the number of suicide bombings, including two failed attempts to blow up its twin World Trade Center towers in the capital of Colomboan eerie forecast of the events of September 11. In "Living with Terror," FRONTLINE/World follows an American video journalist to Sri Lanka, where on his second day in the country six people are killed in an attempt by a Tamil Tiger suicide bomber to assassinate the Prime Minister. Through interviews with residents, journalists, and peace activists, "Living with Terror" illustrates how a lush island believed by some to have been home to the Garden of Eden has been transformed into a nation of sandbags, barricades, and daily attacks. Peace talks aimed at ending the 20-year war between the Buddhist government and Hindu separatists are slated to begin in May, but the threat of violence remains. "It doesn't really surprise people," says Sri Lankan journalist King Ratnam of Sri Lanka's routine violence. Gesturing to a crowd assembled for a political rally, Ratnam says, "If a bomb goes off here, maybe five or ten of them will die and then the next day you just go on with your work. It's gotten to that level."
"Channel Surfing the Himalayas"What happens when cable television intrudes upon an isolated Buddhist kingdom in the Himalayan mountains? By royal decree in 1999, Bhutan became the last country in the world to accept the inevitabletelevision. The tiny country, which has secluded itself from the rest of the world, knew it was taking a risk by opening itself up to images from the Western world. But were they prepared for soap operas and the World Wrestling Federation? In "Channel Surfing the Himalayas," FRONTLINE/World investigates the impact of television on the people of Bhutan. Two young reporters from the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeleyone from Bhutan, the other from South Africafollow Rinzy Dorji, the local "cable guy," as he installs the fascinating new technology in homes throughout his country. Reaction to cable television is mixed at first. Even Rinzy's mother-in-law is skeptical of the business. "What if people don’t want TV?" she asks. But later she realizes that television is so addictive, she tells reporters, "I forget to count my prayer beads."
Following the broadcast, access the FRONTLINE/World Web site at pbs.org/frontlineworld for compelling interactive features, including original reports from young journalists from around the globe, news articles and features from foreign media, interviews, streaming video, interactive quizzes, and much more.
Stephen Talbot is series editor for FRONTLINE/World. KQED executive-in-charge for FRONTLINE/World is Sue Ellen McCann. WGBH executive-in-charge for FRONTLINE/World is Sharon Tiller.
FRONTLINE/World is co-produced by KQED San Francisco and WGBH Boston and is broadcast nationwide on PBS.
Major funding for FRONTLINE/World is provided by PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Additional funding is provided by ABB, Ltd., and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
FRONTLINE/World is closed-captioned for deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers.
The executive producer for FRONTLINE/World is David Fanning.
Bios for Episode 101
Sharon Tiller, WGBH Executive in Charge for FRONTLINE/World
Sharon Tiller joined FRONTLINE in 1995. As senior producer, she works with independent producers to develop ideas, funding strategies and documentary proposals for the series and oversees the production of a number of programs each season. In 1996, she helped establish the "FRONTLINE West" project at the University of California at Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, where producers-in-residence work with graduates of the documentary program on a major project each academic year. Tiller also teaches a course at the journalism school. Her recent FRONTLINEcredits include "Drug Wars," a critically acclaimed four-hour special on America's thirty-year war on drug abuse and drug crime, and "Blackout," a joint FRONTLINE/New York Times investigation of the California energy crisis and the role of energy traders like the Enron Corporation. Before joining FRONTLINE, Tiller was the executive director for the San Francisco-based Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR), where she managed editorial and administrative operations. In 1989 Tiller launched and supervised an independent documentary unit at CIR, which has co-produced fifteen investigative documentaries for FRONTLINE. Tiller has received two duPont-Columbia University Broadcast Journalism Awards, a George Polk Award for National Television Reporting, a World Affairs Council Award of Excellence for International Reporting, the National Education Writers' First Prize for Documentary Television and a National Emmy and the George Foster Peabody Award for "Drug Wars."
Sue Ellen McCann, KQED Executive in Charge for FRONTLINE/World
Sue Ellen McCann works primarily on current and public affairs programming at KQED. She serves as executive producer on the monthly KQED documentary series, Bay Window, for which she has overseen more than twenty productions, including "Presumed Guilty," "Raising a Ruckus," "GunShots," "No Turning Back" and "Celebrity and the City." Under her tenure, the series has won numerous awards, including four local Emmys and one national Emmy. Other KQED productions under her supervision have included a weekly public affairs show, This Week in Northern California, and the nationally airing technology and science show Springboard. After working on FRONTLINE documentaries for the Center for Investigative Reporting, Ms. McCann produced "Fair Play" as part of the Digital Divide series that aired in January 2000 on PBS. Sue Ellen holds a B.A. in Liberal Studies and a Master of Fine Arts.
Stephen Talbot, Series Editor
In a career of more than twenty years in public television, Talbot has produced, written and directed over thirty documentaries, including investigative stories, biographies, history specials and foreign reports. For the past decade, he has been a frequent contributor to the critically acclaimed PBS series, FRONTLINE, writing and producing nine documentaries, including "Justice for Sale" with Bill Moyers (1999), "Spying on Saddam" (1999) and "The Best Campaign Money Can Buy" (1992), which won a duPont Award from Columbia University. Talbot's other FRONTLINE documentaries—co-produced with the Center for Investigative Reporting in San Franciscoinclude "The Battle Over School Choice" (2000), "Why America Hates the Press" (1996), "The Long March of Newt Gingrich" (1996), "Rush Limbaugh’s America" (1995), "Public Lands, Private Profits" (1994) and "The Heartbeat of America" (1993). Talbot began his public television career as a staff reporter and producer at KQED Public Television in San Francisco, where he won two Peabody Awards for his national PBS documentaries "Broken Arrow" (1980) and "The Case of Dashiell Hammett" (1982). During his tenure at KQED in the 1980s, Talbot produced several documentaries about foreign affairs, including "The Gospel and Guatemala" (1984) with Elizabeth Farnsworth; "Namibia: Behind the Lines" (1981); "Saigon, U.S.A." (1983); "Getting Away with Murder" (1985); and "South Africa Under Siege" (1986). Talbot also reported and produced dozens of feature stories for The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. His production company, Talbot Productions, recently produced a one-hour documentary about Oakland mayor Jerry Brown entitled "The Celebrity and the City" (2001) for KQED's Bay Window series. He has also written and co-produced several PBS and KQED biographies of writers, including Ken Kesey, Carlos Fuentes and Maxine Hong Kingston.
Rocky Kistner, Producer
William "Rocky" Kistner is an independent producer and reporter based in Washington, D.C., and an associate of the Center for Investigative Reporting. Over the past twenty years, he has contributed to numerous network and public television news programs, including PBS's FRONTLINE, the Discovery Channel, CBS's 60 Minutes and ABC's 20/20. Kistner previously was a staff producer with ABC's Day One in Washington, D.C., and he had been a staff reporter for the Center for Investigative Reporting in San Francisco. He began his journalism career as a news editor with Professional Pilot magazine in Washington. His articles also have appeared in numerous national magazines and major newspapers. Kistner has contributed to programs that have received the George Polk Award for national television reporting, Investigative Reporters and Editors Awards for national television, and several Emmy News and Documentary nominations.
Rick Young, Producer
An Emmy-nominated producer, Rick Young has been involved in more than a dozen FRONTLINE documentaries over the past ten years. His most recent producing credits include "LAPD Blues" and a two-hour co-production with the BBC, "War in Europe." He was a staff writer with the Center for Investigative Reporting in the early 1990s and, before that, worked on a documentary series for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Prior to working on television documentaries, he spent six years as an investigator for the U.S. Congress.
"Channel Surfing the Himalayas"
Alexis Bloom, Producer
Alexis Bloom has worked on a variety of Asia-based projects over the last five years. She has lived and worked in northern India, and was the winner of the Rajiv Gandhi bursary, which is awarded by the Commonwealth Institute, at Cambridge University. Bloom began her career in print journalism in South Africa, writing about AIDS in Southern Africa for the Sunday Independent. She has also written for the Observer newspaper (United Kingdom), SKY magazine, and The New York Times. "Switch On Bhutan" is her first independent documentary film, although she has worked on two previous shows for PBS's FRONTLINE: "Drug Wars" and "Modern Meat." In May 2001, Bloom received her masters from the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley, where she was awarded the Marlon Riggs Documentary Award for "Switch on Bhutan." Bloom currently works as an associate producer for the PBS series Life 360.
Tshewang Dendup, Producer
Tshewang Dendup has worked for the Bhutan Broadcasting Service (BBS) since 1994. He began work as a radio reporter and producer, covering national news and hosting feature shows. In 1998 he became the news coordinator of the BBS, organizing radio operations in Thimphu. In 1999, when television was introduced into Bhutan, Tshewang presented some of the first programs on the newly inaugurated Bhutan Broadcasting Service. He received his masters degree from the University of California at Berkeley, and was awarded the Marlon Riggs Documentary Award for "Switch on Bhutan," his first independent documentary film.
"Living with Terror"
Joe Rubin, Producer
Joe Rubin is a video journalist/correspondent whose FRONTLINE/World film is also supported by the Pew Fellowships in International Journalism. Rubin produced the 2000 ABC Nightline documentary, "Serbia's Winter of Discontent: Standing Up to Slobodan Milosevic." His other television assignments have ranged from a story on closing the digital divide in Ghana for PBS's Livelyhood series, to assignments with National Geographic and New York Times Television. For three years, Rubin worked with WNYC-TV in New York as a public affairs producer. He produced several segments for the PBS series Heart of the City, a look at grassroots heroes hosted by the late John F. Kennedy, Jr. Rubin has taught video journalism in various seminars, and has delivered guest lectures at the University of California at Berkeley School of Journalism. Rubin has also reported for print and radio. His National Public Radio features have ranged from an exposé on abandoned U.S. army land mines and chemical weapons in Panama, to a story on shamans teaming up with doctors in the Ecuadorian Andes. He has written for numerous publications, including The New York Times, MotherJones.com and CMJ Music Magazine.