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C-SPAN Restarts 'American Writers'

C-SPAN will resume its ambitious series on the greatest 20th century U.S. authors on March 31, after putting the show on hiatus following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

American Writers II: The 20th Century
will highlight writers who chronicled or influenced the course of U.S. history, said C-SPAN executive vice president and COO and series creator Susan Swain. The series — which will run each Sunday through July 7 — will launch with a focus on Harlem Renaissance writers Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes. Future two-hour episodes will examine F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck and William Faulkner.

Overall, the series covers writers from "America's Progressive Era" (1901-1929), through its "Social Transformation and Vietnam" (1961-1975).

American Writers II
continues a project the public-affairs network launched last March, which ran through Sept. 10.

"We elected to take the six months to do our primary job of covering public affairs, and now that six months have passed, we're allowing ourselves to get back to the study of history and more feature shows on our network," Swain said.

Unlike the episodes that already ran, the series will now air on Sunday afternoons instead of Mondays to allow community leaders and other interested viewers to attend the live shows, Swain said.

C-SPAN will repeat each episode the following Friday, along with ancillary programming about the writer's life and times featuring authors such as George Plimpton and Stanley Crouch; actors Danny Glover and Mariel Hemingway; and journalists Walter Cronkite, Christopher Hitchens and George Will.


American Writers
is the network's fourth major original, historical series. The previous series were American Presidents: Life Portraits
(1999), Alexis de Tocqueville Tour
(1997) and The Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858

Though C-SPAN is not rated, Swain said a recent Statistical Research viewership and demographics study commissioned by the network indicated that more than 20 million people watched some of its American Presidents
series. More than 6 million subscribers viewed at least 10 weeks of the 42-part series.

"We also get a lot of feedback from teachers and affiliates in particular," Swain said.

C-SPAN will also make the episodes available on the series's Web site (

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.