Comcast, Brokaw Lend Support To High-Tech D-Day Documentary

Comcast and NBCUniversal teamed with Smithsonian Enterprises to host the Washington, D.C., premiere on May 19 of a documentary about D-Day that has joined the rotation of the IMAX productions showcased at the National Air & Space Museum on the National Mall.

Comcast and NBCU are not directly involved with D-Day: Normandy 1944, but were lending support to a project narrated by iconic NBC newsman Tom Brokaw. His “Greatest Generation” books have helped to refocus attention on the success and sacrifice of World War II veterans.

This Friday (June 6) marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day, when allied forces stormed the beaches of France and turned the tide of the war in Europe.

Brokaw led a panel discussion before the airing, introduced by Comcast executive vice president David Cohen, who called him the crown jewel in the jewel that is NBC News.

Cohen also thanked the veterans in the audience and pointed out that Comcast had overdelivered on a promise from 2012 to hire 1,000 veterans over the ensuing three years.

He said the number is already more than 2,500, in areas ranging from the service center to the executive suite.

At a far more intimate screening in New York City in late March, two days after the film’s world premiere in Seattle, Brokaw confided he was skeptical at first about yet another D-Day doc, predicting grainy newsreel footage and overused black-and-white images.

After seeing a 20-minute sample of what Vuong had produced, with computer-generated flying aircraft and innovative animated cartography, all in full color IMAX 3D, “I was blown away,” he said.

“I think it’s the best introduction primer on what happened, because it gives you the big overview,” Brokaw said. “I learn something every time I look through the script, and I’ve read everything there is to know about” D-Day.

An NBC rep told The Wire on Friday that Brokaw “will be sailing to Normandy for the 70th anniversary and filing reports for our NBC News platforms.”

— John Eggerton and Kent Gibbons

Tesla Film Fans Hope His Patents Aid Fundraising

Cable operators are banking on WiFi as their principal mobile broadband play. But fans of Nikola Tesla, wireless communications pioneer, hope that all kinds of broadband, fixed and mobile, will help them fund a movie about the Serbian-American father of alternating current.

Tesla’s more than 700 patents, the movie’s producers said, included ones related to radio, cellular communications, and wireless data (the Internet, WiFi and email).

Using crowd-funding site Kickstarter, writer-producer D. Daniel Vujic is offering a number of premiums for donations to his paean to “the man who invented the 20th Century.”

IMDB calls Tesla “a fascinating depiction of Nikola Tesla’s life from his early adulthood to his eventual arrival [in] America examining his relationships and interactions with some of the most colorful and important people of the 20th Century, Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, Guglielmo Marconi, Albert Einstein, Charles “Lucky” Luciano, J.P. Morgan, Mark Twain, J. Edgar Hoover and Heinrich Himmler.”

It notes the film also “takes a fictional turn with the introduction of ‘Ed Watt’ from the 21st century, a 20-year-old computer hacker who accidentally stumbles upon Tesla’s greatest invention kept secret from the world.”

At press time $1,175 had been pledged toward a goal of $20,000. Premiums range from a certificate of appreciation signed by the producer ($15) to producer credit, the ability to cast anyone in a minor role, a TESLA car for a day and a producer’s chair.

The funding round opened May 15 and ends July 14.

— John Eggerton

‘Midway’ Grant Is Another Cox Tie To Historic Ship

Fittingly, the James M. Cox Foundation has provided a $1.5-million grant to the USS Midway Museum, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

It’s fitting partly because the museum, which will use the money to expand its STEM-oriented classroom programs and other educational uses, is in San Diego. The James M. Cox Foundation is named for the Cox Enterprises founder, and CEI’s cable company, Cox Communications, operates there and elsewhere in Southern California.

And it’s apt because the late Barbara Cox, daughter of James M. Cox and mother of Cox Enterprises chairman Jim Kennedy, christened the Midway in 1945. At that time, the Midway was the largest ship in the world and later became the longest-serving aircraft carrier in the 20th century. Today, it is the most visited ship museum in the world with more than 1 million annual visitors, according to Cox.

“The Midway and Cox became forever linked when my mother christened the ship almost 70 years ago,” Kennedy said in a release. “The Midway served with America’s greatest generation and is now educating future generations. Before founding our company, my grandfather was a teacher, so I know he’d be proud that this grant will help the Midway grow its educational programs.”

Cox Business built fiber to the Midway, and currently delivers critical infrastructure and broadband technology to the museum. Cox-owned Channel 4 San Diego also supports the museum by raising awareness, currently by airing a special half-hour show on the museum, Cox said.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.