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PBS Offers Ken Burns Films for 'American History Night'

PBS will make the Ken Burns documentary The Roosevelts: An Intimate History available to its stations beginning March 26. PBS is calling it “American History Night with Ken Burns.” The event happens on Thursdays. The documentarian’s The National Parks: America’s Best Idea and The War will follow The Roosevelts in the series.

PBS is looking to provide viewers more intriguing entertainment amid the coronavirus crisis. Earlier this month, it made the Burns documentary Baseball available for streaming on demand.

The American History Night programs will also be available for streaming on all station-branded PBS platforms.

“PBS and our member stations are committed to using our broad reach and local presence to help Americans find light and hope during these uncertain times,” said Paula Kerger, president and CEO of PBS. “Through his epic films, Ken Burns has shown us time and again how our country can accomplish great things in the face of tremendous adversity, and we look forward to sharing these extraordinary stories with our audiences in the coming months.”

The Roosevelts first aired in 2014. There are seven parts. Geoffrey C. Ward wrote the project. It airs Thursdays into June.

The National Parks, written by Dayton Duncan, airs Thursdays from June 11 to July 9.

The War, from Burns and Lynn Novick about World War II, will air Thursdays from July 23 to Sept. 4.

“These are very tough times, and as we hunker down in our homes, the world seems a different and scary place,” said Burns. “Many of us – most of us – have never experienced anything like this before, and we look to our past for examples of how we can get through hard times. I’ve explored, throughout our history, many stories of hardship, courage and, most of all, shared sacrifice. Ours has never been a perfect union. But we’ve been at our best when we’ve recognized our flaws and mistakes and struggled to correct them. We are at our best when we know in our hearts that the U.S. also means us — all of us.

Ken Burns film East Lake Meadows: A Public Housing Story airs on PBS March 24. The film explores racism and housing, focusing on a public housing project in Atlanta.

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.